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PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2016 5:17 pm 
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So Kian loved the first book in English this year ("Ender's Game") and hates the second ("The Book Thief"). As in refuses to read past page fifty. The teacher alerted us to this fact while I was out of the country, and my wife dutifully assured him we'd do something about it.

I took a somewhat different approach when I replied to both of them (note--Laura knew I was going to do something like this, though probably not with a bibliography):


I do feel constrained to add: while I understand the pedagogical challenges of dealing with a room of 12- and 13- year olds, not to mention dealing with the pressures of standardized testing, I fear assigned novel reading in required classes at this age ensures a certain percentage of the kids will simply hate reading. Kian has been and remains an enthusiastic reader when he can choose, but being forced to read something one actively dislikes doesn't so much expand horizons as deepen resentment. When I taught Freshman Comp at Wash. U. back in the day, I could tell which kids had gone through that particular wringer, and some probably never read voluntarily again.

I believe the best book for a kid to read is the one they will finish on their own. All the book jacket blurbs and awards in the world mean nothing if a kid's not hooked by the end of the first chapter. They have to read for content in all of the other classes--why not let them read for joy when it comes to fiction?

It's not just me:

Anecdotal:

https://pernillesripp.com/2013/03/13/th ... e-reading/

http://writerunboxed.com/2014/04/08/how ... e-reading/

https://www.edutopia.org/blog/projects- ... th-holland

http://www.brilliant-insane.com/2014/08 ... ading.html

Academic:

http://rpdp.net/admin/images/uploads/16 ... eaders.pdf

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/do ... 1&type=pdf

http://www.yalsa.ala.org/jrlya/2015/02/ ... ng-adults/

http://www.ncmle.org/journal/PDF/Dec11/VanSlyke.pdf


Honestly, I don't think I engaged with an at-home reading assignment until my senior year of high school--in an elective class--and I ended up with a Masters in English Lit...and with a mess of published short stories, not-quiet-published novels (I'm between agents) and prize-winning screenplays (working on getting those produced) to my name. Somehow I sustained my desire to read despite being forced through The Outsiders and The Scarlet Letter and other dreary mainstays of middle- and high-school reading lists. I hope Kian can as well.

In the meantime, yes, we'll see that he does what he needs to do to get by. But I don't hide my feelings on the topic from him.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2016 5:40 pm 
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:clap: :clap:

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2016 11:16 pm 
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I was glad to hear the teacher agreed with me... and as it turns out they revised the curriculum to no longer include assigned books for SIXTH grade this year, and will get to seventh grade...next year. And possibly eighth. :roll:

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2016 11:33 am 
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I completely agree with you. Assigned novels should not appear until elective classes in high school.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 03, 2016 2:36 am 
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I agree. There are people with a great command of English who aren't really into reading novels, period. Even people who are into reading novels will have those they like and dislike. In Grade 12 English at my school we were assigned Pride and Prejudice. I loved it; I'm one of the many people who think of it as one of the greatest-ever English novels. It was probably what first put me on to reading classic literature. But there are people who are great readers of books in many genres who just don't like it (including people on this board). There were many such people among my classmates, and many more who just didn't like novels. I can't imagine what a torment slogging through P&P must have been for them; certainly I'd understand it if they never opened another classic novel again.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 03, 2016 3:13 am 
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I know plenty of people who are highly intelligent readers who can't get through an Austen novel. It's not a moral failing. But I'm extremely grateful not to be one of them. Oh, man. What a loss that would have been to my life--like never hearing any Bach.

Not liking whom is also not a moral failing.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 03, 2016 4:02 am 
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I'm one of those people who could not get through Pride and Prejudice...in spite of several attempts. However, had it been assigned reading, I would have slogged my way through it and perhaps, through class discussion and dialogue, gained an appreciation of it.

I think having assigned novels is not a bad thing, even in the younger grades. If the whole class reads the same book, it makes for much more interesting discussion and activities. It won't kill anyone to read a book or two that isn't their cup of tea. How else will they get exposed to certain genres of literature? It would be like a music class that let the kids just listen to whatever they "liked" instead of exposing them to a variety of musical styles and time periods.



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PostPosted: Sat Dec 03, 2016 10:55 pm 
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of Vinyamar
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What Jewel said.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 03, 2016 11:09 pm 
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Listening to a song, though, is much less of an investment of time and effort than reading a novel.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 03, 2016 11:14 pm 
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More time investment is a good thing. The world is full of kids who are instant gratification junkies.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 04, 2016 12:05 am 
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not something I would recommend
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But what's the point if the result is half the kids end up feeling like reading is a tedious chore?

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 04, 2016 8:03 pm 
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There should also be books that are fun to read. My daughter is studying English in University and her current assignment is to compare and contrast Joyce's Portrait of the Artists as a Young Man with a Ross O'Carroll Kelly book. The latter is a modern popular comedy author in Ireland.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 04, 2016 9:29 pm 
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It's also hard to predict what will get through to a kid. In high school lit I found that I really enjoyed the widely dreaded and reviled Ethan Frome—it was so vividly written, and tragic in an austere, un-weepy way. I'd never read anything like it. It opened some doors for me.

At least, that's my memory of it. I never read it again. I just went and looked and there are several free versions on Kindle, so I nabbed one.

ETA: Just to prove I was also a normal teenager, I disliked The Scarlet Letter every bit as much as all three of my kids did.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 2016 4:53 am 
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not something I would recommend
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We didn't have to read Shakespeare on our own but we read two plays - Tempest and MacBeth - in our classes. Well, basically had them read to us by the teacher since Shakespeare pretty much needs an interpreter. I was amazed at how much I loved both (so good!) considering the enormous language barrier. But I always wondered how my fellow class mates felt about it. I never asked but it made me wonder whether most kids left thinking Shakespeare was cool or awful.

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