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Old 2nd January 2018, 09:32 AM   #121
angrysoba
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Funnily enough, one of the stories mentioned here - about a quilt - reminded me of a story that appears in a Houghton Mifflin Reading Book for elementary school children I teach on Saturdays. The story is called The Keeping Quilt, and a summary on Amazon states:

Quote:
"We will make a quilt to help us always remember home," Anna's mother said. "It will be like heaving the family in backhome Russia dance around us at night.
And so it was. From a basket of old clothes, Anna's babushka, Uncle Vladimir's shirt, Aunt Havalah's nightdress and an apron of Aunt Natasha's become The Keeping Quilt, passed along from mother to daughter for almost a century. For four generations the quilt is a Sabbath tablecloth, a wedding canopy, and a blanket that welcomes babies warmly into the world.
In strongly moving pictures that are as heartwarming as they are real, patricia Polacco tells the story of her own family, and the quilt that remains a symbol of their enduring love and faith.
As you can imagine, the 9 and 10 year olds that I teach are thoroughly enraptured by this story...


Haha! No, it is dull, just like almost all the stories in these anthologies. For the most part, they tend to be as "inoffensive" as possible, stripped of almost all drama, or humour, and have some kind of didactic message, usually about how the protagonist learns to love their culture's traditions.

So we have Grandma's Records:
Quote:
Every summer, Eric goes to live with his grandmother in El Barrio (Spanish Harlem) while his parents work. Through the long hot days, Grandma fills her apartment with the blaring horns and conga drums of Bomba y Plena, salsa, and merengue-the music she grew up with in Puerto Rico-sharing her memories and passions with Eric.

But Eric sees Grandma in a new light when she gets them tickets to hear their favorite band in concert. The music sounds so different than it does at home on their scratchy records. And then the lead singer serenades Grandma right in front of the whole audience!
And Poppa's New Pants:
Quote:
Poppa buys a new pair of "red gambler's plaid" pants that are six inches too long. Grandma Tiny, Big Mama, and Aunt Viney are too tired to alter them but in the night, each regrets her refusal to help him and gets up to hem the pants. Grandson George, sleeping in the kitchen because the visiting relatives have his room, is frightened by the ghostly apparitions who make snipping noises. In the morning the mystery is solved. Poppa has a pair of thrice altered pants that end at his knees.
The Talking Cloth:
Quote:
A picture book that tells a story about a black family as it provides an introduction to West African culture. Aunt Phoebe, a wise and seasoned traveler, tells her niece, Amber, about the adinkra cloth and how it is meant to be used. In this way, the woman helps the girl understand another culture and how their family is related to it. Mitchell's rich and colorful oil paintings realistically portray African carvings and cloths, particularly the adinkra cloth made by the Ashanti people of Ghana.
Dancing Rainbows:
Quote:
It's Feast Day at San Juan Pueblo, New Mexico, and the Tewa tribe of Pueblo Indians has gathered for a day of dancing, drums, feasting and prayer. Bringing readers behind the scenes, Mott's (A Day at the Races with Austin & Kyle Petty) deftly turned photo-essay introduces a Pueblo boy, Curt, and his grandfather, Andy, a tribe elder, as they prepare for the festivities. Details of Pueblo culture are interspersed: the horno, or outdoor oven, used for baking the 70 loaves of bread needed for Feast Day; the elaborate, feathered headdresses integral to the ritual dances; the symbolism in their costumes. Invoking Andy's lessons to Curt, the text gracefully stresses the tribe's traditional reverence for and spiritual connection to nature.

Yumni and Halomni's Trip:
Quote:
The author and illustrator who brought us Halmoni and the Picnic have teamed up again to give us a second story about Yunmi and Halmoni, which crosses cultural and generational boundaries as vividly and gracefully as the first. Yunmi and her grandmother, Halmoni, are going to Korea, where Halmoni lived before she moved to New York City. Yunmi enjoys seeing Korea for the first time and helping prepare the annual family picnic feast.
I'm sure all the stories are well-meaning, but God they are dull!

As a result, I also bring in Choose Your Own Adventure books, Julia Donaldson, David Walliams, Roald Dahl, and yes they can read Harry Potter from the library too. These students are not native speakers of English usually, so their reading level is usually lower than those in the US or the UK, and they also read Graded Readers and Oxford Reading Tree books.
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Old 2nd January 2018, 09:41 AM   #122
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
<snip>

As a result, I also bring in Choose Your Own Adventure books, Julia Donaldson, David Walliams, Roald Dahl, and yes they can read Harry Potter from the library too. These students are not native speakers of English usually, so their reading level is usually lower than those in the US or the UK, and they also read Graded Readers and Oxford Reading Tree books.

I can't imagine that baron would ever approve of the Harry Potter books. After all, they're modern. Filled with " Imagination! Adventure! Fantasy! Fun!" ...

... and also the occasional strong-willed, independent female.
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Old 2nd January 2018, 09:41 AM   #123
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
Funnily enough, one of the stories mentioned here - about a quilt - reminded me of a story that appears in a Houghton Mifflin Reading Book for elementary school children I teach on Saturdays. The story is called The Keeping Quilt, and a summary on Amazon states:



As you can imagine, the 9 and 10 year olds that I teach are thoroughly enraptured by this story...


Haha! No, it is dull, just like almost all the stories in these anthologies. For the most part, they tend to be as "inoffensive" as possible, stripped of almost all drama, or humour, and have some kind of didactic message, usually about how the protagonist learns to love their culture's traditions.

So we have Grandma's Records:


And Poppa's New Pants:


The Talking Cloth:


Dancing Rainbows:



Yumni and Halomni's Trip:


I'm sure all the stories are well-meaning, but God they are dull!

As a result, I also bring in Choose Your Own Adventure books, Julia Donaldson, David Walliams, Roald Dahl, and yes they can read Harry Potter from the library too. These students are not native speakers of English usually, so their reading level is usually lower than those in the US or the UK, and they also read Graded Readers and Oxford Reading Tree books.
And it's the dullness that is more dangerous than the sanitized messages, as it discourages children from reading for themselves, and children who don't read are off to a terrible start in life.



And my own recommendation for kids of between 10 years and 101 years is 'Railsea' by China Mieville. I wish to God this book had been around when I was young, what a story, brilliantly told. For the record Mieville is an inveterate far leftist but has the professionalism and the good grace not to use his fiction as a vehicle for preaching and lecturing.
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Old 2nd January 2018, 09:56 AM   #124
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Oh, honestly, how can a book about child abuse themes be PC and teaching kids how to think? That is such a load of ****, even my Republican Catholic parents who see liberal bogeymen under their beds at night would tell you to calm down. Books are about all sorts of different topics. Good schools try to provide a mix. That's the whole idea.

Also, children will always have stuff they read for fun versus stuff they read to write book reports about. They can't always just be reading about sci-fi adventures. It's a school's job to work some more "boring" scholastic material in there - historical, biographical, slice-of-life themes, whatever. That's how it goes.

Animorphs was in my school library, but I don't recall any teachers ever assigning it as required reading. Hatchet, on the other hand, was there and it got used for classes. (For the record, I remember hating that book as a kid. And it certainly wasn't because the author was too girly and PC. As I recall, the book was borderline frightening, and contained what I considered as a schoolkid to be grisly descriptions of wounds and illness.)

It doesn't change in high school, either. I had to suffer through crap like Wuthering Heights in between the political satire and war novels I actually liked by then. It was a mix. I'm pretty sure school isn't supposed to be fun all the time. If it is, I've been doing it wrong. The best books for school study are the types that introduce new topics or contain a lot of fodder for questions and class discussions (while remaining relatively age-appropriate, of course). That can cover a whole range of themes, and yes, women's issues will sometimes be among them. BFD.
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Old 2nd January 2018, 09:59 AM   #125
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Originally Posted by baron View Post
And it's the dullness that is more dangerous than the sanitized messages, as it discourages children from reading for themselves, and children who don't read are off to a terrible start in life.

Perhaps that is why angrysob made a point of stating that he provided his students with alternatives.

There is an almost embarrassing wealth of rich alternatives in the children's and YA literature available today.

It seems like you are focusing on a rather tiny subset to vent your spleen, while pretending that the vast majority doesn't exist at all.

Quote:


And my own recommendation for kids of between 10 years and 101 years is 'Railsea' by China Mieville. I wish to God this book had been around when I was young, what a story, brilliantly told. For the record Mieville is an inveterate far leftist but has the professionalism and the good grace not to use his fiction as a vehicle for preaching and lecturing.

Which would explain why the LA Times reviewer wrapped up their discussion of that book with the description; "[a] nearly-600-page Marxist runaway train.".

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Old 2nd January 2018, 09:59 AM   #126
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I remember being required to read a LOT of Holocaust-themed books in middle school. Where does that sort of thing fall on the gender spectrum? How about the PC-indoctrination spectrum?


ETA - Does anyone else remember a book called Whirligig from school? I recall that one being actually painful it was so boring and loaded with needless emotionalism. Who knows how I'd react if I read it now, but that was my impression at the time (circa 7th grade). I was probably every bit as angry about having to read dull, emotional fare as any of the boys in my peer group. But it was just part of school.

The way I saw it, the sooner I finished my reports on the lame books, the quicker I could move on to whatever I wanted to read.

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Old 2nd January 2018, 10:06 AM   #127
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
Neither would I - if it weren't for this context. It's a children's book, and I would recommend it to children. See the Amazon readers' comments!




For young adults. I don't know your age, but ...
Sorry if I wasn't clear. I know the books under discussion were children's / YA ones and I was answering with a view to what my mindset would have been when I was the target audience - which was a very long time ago (I'm in my fifties).

I would have read the hatchet one when I was a kid, if there was nothing else to read but it wouldn't have been top of my list - I only read the Willard Price adventure ones because a friend had them all and I used to plow through a few books a week. I wouldn't have been remotely interested in the quilt one. That is not me judging it as a piece of literature, the subject matter / genre simply won't have appealed then or now. There's a running joke in my house 'You won't be interested Dad, it hasn't got dragons or spaceships in it'.

Having said that, the books I really loved as a kid were the 'Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators' series. Blooming marvellous they were!
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Old 2nd January 2018, 10:08 AM   #128
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Originally Posted by isissxn View Post
I remember being required to read a LOT of Holocaust-themed books in middle school. Where does that sort of thing fall on the gender spectrum?
The DIARY of Anne Frank. What sort of boy wants to read a girl's diary?
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Old 2nd January 2018, 10:17 AM   #129
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Originally Posted by isissxn View Post
Oh, honestly, how can a book about child abuse themes be PC and teaching kids how to think?
You tell me. I made the point of deliberately separating the two concepts so maybe the person who made the allegation can help you out.

Originally Posted by isissxn View Post
That is such a load of ****, even my Republican Catholic parents who see liberal bogeymen under their beds at night would tell you to calm down. Books are about all sorts of different topics. Good schools try to provide a mix. That's the whole idea.
Good schools are good. Good teaching is good. I concur.

Originally Posted by isissxn View Post
Also, children will always have stuff they read for fun versus stuff they read to write book reports about. They can't always just be reading about sci-fi adventures. It's a school's job to work some more "boring" scholastic material in there - historical, biographical, slice-of-life themes, whatever. That's how it goes.

Animorphs was in my school library, but I don't recall any teachers ever assigning it as required reading. Hatchet, on the other hand, was there and it got used for classes. (For the record, I remember hating that book as a kid. And it certainly wasn't because the author was too girly and PC. As I recall, the book was borderline frightening, and contained what I considered as a schoolkid to be grisly descriptions of wounds and illness.)

It doesn't change in high school, either. I had to suffer through crap like Wuthering Heights in between the political satire and war novels I actually liked by then. It was a mix. I'm pretty sure school isn't supposed to be fun all the time. If it is, I've been doing it wrong. The best books for school study are the types that introduce new topics or contain a lot of fodder for questions and class discussions (while remaining relatively age-appropriate, of course). That can cover a whole range of themes, and yes, women's issues will sometimes be among them. BFD.
It depends what age you're talking about. For young kids reading should be solely about having fun, nothing else. And that goes for all learning at an early age. There's plenty of time later in the education process to learn about 'women's issues' (and I don't want to trigger anybody, but men's issues too) and sexual abuse. Also, it bears saying what a shame that so many parents have now abdicated their basic responsibilities to the educational system.
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Old 2nd January 2018, 10:44 AM   #130
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Originally Posted by baron View Post
<snip>

It depends what age you're talking about. For young kids reading should be solely about having fun, nothing else. And that goes for all learning at an early age. There's plenty of time later in the education process to learn about 'women's issues' (and I don't want to trigger anybody, but men's issues too) and sexual abuse. Also, it bears saying what a shame that so many parents have now abdicated their basic responsibilities to the educational system.

How young? Pre-school? I might agree, maybe even first grade. Probably not second.

Beyond that you are certainly creating a false dichotomy.
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Old 2nd January 2018, 10:55 AM   #131
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Originally Posted by baron View Post
And what message do you imagine this conveys? A hundred years ago women were generally regarded as second class citizens whose place was in the home and who should not even have a say in the democratic running of the country. Yet do you think the husbands and sons of these women did not care for them? Did they not grieve for them if they died? Of course they did, so thinking along this vein, do you believe that the story of this particular grandmother caring for her male relatives means she did not harbour views biased against males?

No, me neither.

Thanks for the lecture about the condition of women a hundred years ago. It's not relevant in the context, though.
Unlike you, I don't have to imagine. Unlike you, I've read the book! And the book makes it clear that the women love their husbands, fathers and sons, miss them when they are gone, grieve when they die, and resent the wars and dangerous occupations that kill them. This resentment is expressed in the grandmother's words that I quoted, and at the same time it expresses the despair and misery at losing not only a loved one, but also a provider; when there's nothing else to do but pull yourself together and move on.
By the way, you've come a loooong way from "blatantly anti-male" to "harbor views biased against males". Now all you have to do is acknowledge that these women love their husbands and other male relatives, and because they love them, they are angry at them for getting themselves killed, an impotent rage in the face of the inexorable finality of death. And in time, you may even be able to acknowledge that this attitude is the exact opposite of being "blatantly anti-male".

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Old 2nd January 2018, 11:12 AM   #132
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Originally Posted by Ethan Thane Athen View Post
Sorry if I wasn't clear. I know the books under discussion were children's / YA ones and I was answering with a view to what my mindset would have been when I was the target audience - which was a very long time ago (I'm in my fifties).

I would have read the hatchet one when I was a kid, if there was nothing else to read but it wouldn't have been top of my list - I only read the Willard Price adventure ones because a friend had them all and I used to plow through a few books a week. I wouldn't have been remotely interested in the quilt one. That is not me judging it as a piece of literature, the subject matter / genre simply won't have appealed then or now. There's a running joke in my house 'You won't be interested Dad, it hasn't got dragons or spaceships in it'.

Having said that, the books I really loved as a kid were the 'Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators' series. Blooming marvellous they were!

The Hatchet would have been right down my alley, The Quilt probaly only if I couldn't find anything else. I also soon turned to science fiction. There was not a lot of that in Danish back then, so I soon had to smuggle books like Brave New World,1984, Naked Lunch and Nova Express past officious librarians who didn't find them suited for my age group.
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"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 2nd January 2018, 11:18 AM   #133
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Originally Posted by isissxn View Post
The way I saw it, the sooner I finished my reports on the lame books, the quicker I could move on to whatever I wanted to read.

I once made the mistake of telling my teacher that I might have liked the book we were reading (something about vikings) if it hadn't been required reading!
That was a mistake I only made once!
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 2nd January 2018, 11:23 AM   #134
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Originally Posted by quadraginta View Post
Which would explain why the LA Times reviewer wrapped up their discussion of that book with the description; "[a] nearly-600-page Marxist runaway train.".


I've only read Perdido Street Station, but it never occurred to me that Mieville might be a Marxist.
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 2nd January 2018, 11:27 AM   #135
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Originally Posted by baron View Post

It depends what age you're talking about. For young kids reading should be solely about having fun, nothing else. And that goes for all learning at an early age. There's plenty of time later in the education process to learn about 'women's issues' (and I don't want to trigger anybody, but men's issues too) and sexual abuse. Also, it bears saying what a shame that so many parents have now abdicated their basic responsibilities to the educational system.
Well, I guess I was thinking of round about what we call middle school here. Age 11-13 is when more serious topics like racism, war, child abuse, and the like began appearing thematically in reading lists to which I was exposed as a kid. However, I'm largely having trouble remembering what we DID read before that. My reading for pleasure was way off in its own land around that time period too, so it's clouding my memory further. (I was reading Orwell and Camus and crap on my own time by then, along with some naughty Stephen King and Mario Puzo. Giant Russian doorstoppers of which I could barely make sense. I was just SO edgy.)

I'm not sure I agree that having a good mix of topics in school literature means the parents are abdicating their responsibilities. In my experience, stuff I read for school could often generate interesting conversations at home (and vis versa). I don't think having challenging topics like we're discussing in school reading should be about kids learning one certain point of view or another. I think it should just be another tool for introducing those sorts of topics to their minds, so THEY can learn to start processing them for themselves. (If that makes sense.) A book that panderingly and emotionally regurgitates some pop moral lesson offends me just as much, I think, as it offends you. And kids feel the same. They don't want to be pandered to. But I think they do need to be challenged.

For the record, baron, I think you misunderstood my use of "women's issues" in my post. Sorry I wasn't clear. I didn't mean it in the official, sociopolitical sense. I was typing carelessly. I simply meant "issues affecting female characters and/or women at large in whatever social setting a novel encompasses."

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Old 2nd January 2018, 11:36 AM   #136
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
Funnily enough, one of the stories mentioned here - about a quilt - reminded me of a story that appears in a Houghton Mifflin Reading Book for elementary school children I teach on Saturdays. The story is called The Keeping Quilt
(...)
I'm sure all the stories are well-meaning, but God they are dull!
(...)

Are you familiar with this one, What if? I bought it because I thought I might be able to use it in class, but it is intolerably boring. I can't imagine anybody actually using it.
The Quilt is much, much better than that.
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx

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Old 2nd January 2018, 11:41 AM   #137
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Originally Posted by philkensebben View Post
Day of the Triffids was very popular among girls in my school. Or were the triffids aggresive conifers rather than flowering plants?
I certainly worked my way through pretty much all of Wyndham's books when I was at school, and that was the proper adult editions, not simplified and abridged versions for kids. I also read a lot of books were either film tie-in, or were tie-in editions of earlier novels, such as Star Wars, The Deep, etc.

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Old 2nd January 2018, 11:46 AM   #138
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Originally Posted by Strawberry View Post
Afaik, educational standards among both sexes are falling, I don't know that there's a problem with boys in particular. The biggest indicator of educational success or failure would be socioeconomic background I would think, if you have evidence to the contrary, go ahead and post it.
Certainly the current trend in the UK is that girls are doing better than they did historically, whilst boys - particularly from a white working class background - are failing.
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Old 2nd January 2018, 12:01 PM   #139
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My younger daughter is not a big reader. She loved books up until something like the 4th grade. That's when the teachers started providing limited list of books to read and requiring certain books which were taught for the whole class.

The problem was that the books either didn't interest her or she found them plain unpleasant to read. I read most of these books so that I could help her struggle through them.

The ones I remember are:

The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Devil%27s_Arithmetic

Wringer by Jerry Spinelli. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wringer_(novel)

Chasing Vermeer by Brett Helquist https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chasing_Vermeer

Chasing Vermeer, she enjoyed. I think that was in the fourth grade. The other two were from fourth or fifth grade and were required reading for the whole class. She absolutely hated reading them, which turned reading into a chore for her. (Read the summary of Wringer....)

I get that they are trying to address social issues with their book selections, but you kind of have to be careful with that. In my opinion, the way you learn to read for content is by reading for enjoyment and the way you learn to write is by reading. It's important with young people to balance the content or message of reading assignments with the enjoyment of reading. If you turn reading into a chore, it discourages reading for enjoyment which has a negative effect on literacy.

I don't recall any particular books being assigned when I was in grade/middle school, but I do remember what I wrote book reports about. I read a lot of Hardy Boys books (and wrote book reports on them). I recall reading a biography of Bob Petit (a basketball player I'd never heard of). What I remember of that was his team winning the championship and the team owner buying him a car. I also remember reading a biography of A.J. Foyt.

I don't think the teachers really cared what books we read, as long as we read them. The book reports just needed enough information to convince the teacher that we had read the book. At that age, they weren't forcing us to read stuff we hated or get some sort of lesson out of it. They just wanted us to read.

The books my daughter read, I thought were equally unpleasant for boys and girls. In high school she was able to self-select a few things she liked: The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson, and 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher for example. Still, reading is not in her top ten things to do for enjoyment.

I suspect that if boys are behind girls in reading, it has more to do with video games and sports than book recommendations by teachers. My stepsons were always playing video games or sports with their friends. My daughter and her friends never did that. Sleepovers seemed to center on texting and social media. Imagine five girls sitting around the room with their phones out texting each other. True story. We started confiscating phones at sleepovers.
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Old 2nd January 2018, 12:08 PM   #140
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
It's a war story. Semi-autobiographical, apparently. And what happens in real wars is that men are sent to the front and the young boys stay behind with the women and probably get to know about them and their lives in a way that they otherwise wouldn't.
For British kids war stories were closer to home.
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Old 2nd January 2018, 12:22 PM   #141
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Originally Posted by bonzombiekitty View Post
The DIARY of Anne Frank. What sort of boy wants to read a girl's diary?
Depends on the girl and what she writes in the diary.
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Old 2nd January 2018, 12:25 PM   #142
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Originally Posted by banquetbear View Post
...cite please.
BBC News: Why do girls do better than boys at school?

BBC News: 'Girls outperform boys at school' despite inequality
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Old 2nd January 2018, 12:27 PM   #143
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Originally Posted by TomB View Post
My younger daughter is not a big reader. She loved books up until something like the 4th grade. That's when the teachers started providing limited list of books to read and requiring certain books which were taught for the whole class.

The problem was that the books either didn't interest her or she found them plain unpleasant to read. I read most of these books so that I could help her struggle through them.

The ones I remember are:

The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Devil%27s_Arithmetic

Wringer by Jerry Spinelli. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wringer_(novel)

Chasing Vermeer by Brett Helquist https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chasing_Vermeer

Chasing Vermeer, she enjoyed. I think that was in the fourth grade. The other two were from fourth or fifth grade and were required reading for the whole class. She absolutely hated reading them, which turned reading into a chore for her. (Read the summary of Wringer....)

I get that they are trying to address social issues with their book selections, but you kind of have to be careful with that. In my opinion, the way you learn to read for content is by reading for enjoyment and the way you learn to write is by reading. It's important with young people to balance the content or message of reading assignments with the enjoyment of reading. If you turn reading into a chore, it discourages reading for enjoyment which has a negative effect on literacy.

I don't recall any particular books being assigned when I was in grade/middle school, but I do remember what I wrote book reports about. I read a lot of Hardy Boys books (and wrote book reports on them). I recall reading a biography of Bob Petit (a basketball player I'd never heard of). What I remember of that was his team winning the championship and the team owner buying him a car. I also remember reading a biography of A.J. Foyt.

I don't think the teachers really cared what books we read, as long as we read them. The book reports just needed enough information to convince the teacher that we had read the book. At that age, they weren't forcing us to read stuff we hated or get some sort of lesson out of it. They just wanted us to read.

The books my daughter read, I thought were equally unpleasant for boys and girls. In high school she was able to self-select a few things she liked: The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson, and 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher for example. Still, reading is not in her top ten things to do for enjoyment.

I suspect that if boys are behind girls in reading, it has more to do with video games and sports than book recommendations by teachers. My stepsons were always playing video games or sports with their friends. My daughter and her friends never did that. Sleepovers seemed to center on texting and social media. Imagine five girls sitting around the room with their phones out texting each other. True story. We started confiscating phones at sleepovers.
I read The Devil's Arithmetic around ten years ago. It reminded me of why I like to see the bodies of dead Nazi's (and anything similar to them) - especially with fear forever etched in their faces.
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Old 2nd January 2018, 12:35 PM   #144
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Originally Posted by fuelair View Post
Well, they did hate salt!!!!!!!!
Not in the original book. The whole "sea water kills them" thing is just the culmination of the lighthouse vignettes that they had to crowbar into the (also not much like the book) narrative because once shot it barely filled an hour. In the book it's all spring-loaded Triffid Guns firing sheet steel projectiles, shotguns, and flamethrowers. It's the only language Triffids understand (Clack! Clack! Clack!).

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Old 2nd January 2018, 12:50 PM   #145
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Originally Posted by fuelair View Post
Depends on the girl and what she writes in the diary.
Well, Anne Frank did devote a section to musing about her period. (I quite liked that bit at age 11, actually. I'd never seen periods discussed frankly in anything I'd read before, with the exception of health textbooks and such. It hit home the fact that her story was real.)

But still, periods.
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Old 2nd January 2018, 12:53 PM   #146
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Originally Posted by isissxn View Post
Well, I guess I was thinking of round about what we call middle school here. Age 11-13 is when more serious topics like racism, war, child abuse, and the like began appearing thematically in reading lists to which I was exposed as a kid.
Really? We never had anything like that on the curriculum, ever. Even subjects such as the Holocaust were never mentioned. Personally I think these subjects should be introduced, at around 12 - 13, but not using English lit as a vehicle. History, social studies, personal relationships education, general discussion groups, sure, but insinuating these topics via the back door, like a vaccine on a sugar cube, is not the way to go because it will put kids off reading, and liking reading is by far the most important educational advantage a child can have.

Originally Posted by isissxn View Post
However, I'm largely having trouble remembering what we DID read before that. My reading for pleasure was way off in its own land around that time period too, so it's clouding my memory further. (I was reading Orwell and Camus and crap on my own time by then, along with some naughty Stephen King and Mario Puzo. Giant Russian doorstoppers of which I could barely make sense. I was just SO edgy.)
Personally I learned not a thing in English lit, nor in English language, for the duration of my time at school. The best set book I read was 'A Kestrel For A Knave' by Barry Hines. This, however, was a set book for my father's sixth form class, which I took from his shelf and read when I was seven. Meanwhile, in my own class, we took turns to read from an illustrated book the story of a frog who went on holiday with a fox, or some such unlikely scenario.

Originally Posted by isissxn View Post
I'm not sure I agree that having a good mix of topics in school literature means the parents are abdicating their responsibilities.
It doesn't, the latter assertion was meant as a stand-alone. An acquaintance came around the other day with his nine year old son. The kid, indicating my coffee table, said, "Wow, that's a lot of books!" Seven or eight were piled up, just ones I was reading at the time. Misinterpreting what he meant I said, "Yeah, I can't read just one at once, I always get sidetracked and end up with half a dozen on the go." He considered this, then said, "So... do you have more than that?" He's never read a book in his life. And this is becoming the norm. I suspect that fifty years ago it would have been unheard of.

Originally Posted by isissxn View Post
In my experience, stuff I read for school could often generate interesting conversations at home (and vis versa). I don't think having challenging topics like we're discussing in school reading should be about kids learning one certain point of view or another. I think it should just be another tool for introducing those sorts of topics to their minds, so THEY can learn to start processing them for themselves. (If that makes sense.) A book that panderingly and emotionally regurgitates some pop moral lesson offends me just as much, I think, as it offends you. And kids feel the same. They don't want to be pandered to. But I think they do need to be challenged.
As I say, I don't agree. If a kid is shown that reading is fun then he or she will naturally gravitate to books with diverse content. What is better, to force a child to read five books on weighty, relevant topics when she's 13, then have her not read another for the rest of her life because she's been put off reading, or have her read purely for enjoyment until she's a young adult, after which she will voluntarily read many thousands more books in her lifetime across a wide variety of subjects, because she wants to learn?

Originally Posted by isissxn View Post
For the record, baron, I think you misunderstood my use of "women's issues" in my post. Sorry I wasn't clear. I didn't mean it in the official, sociopolitical sense. I was typing carelessly. I simply meant "issues affecting female characters and/or women at large in whatever social setting a novel encompasses."
I'll let you off.
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Old 2nd January 2018, 12:57 PM   #147
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
I've only read Perdido Street Station, but it never occurred to me that Mieville might be a Marxist.
His political views are certainly grounded in actual Marxism, not the American definition of "anything left of the Republican Party."
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Old 2nd January 2018, 01:28 PM   #148
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Originally Posted by Information Analyst View Post
His political views are certainly grounded in actual Marxism, not the American definition of "anything left of the Republican Party."

I can see that, now that it has been pointed out to me. It just never occurred to me when I read Perdido Street Station fifteen years ago. The only thing that I considered back then was that, in spite of all the weirdness, his characters weren't motivated by the kind of high idealism that you usually find in fantasy.
I much prefer Farmer Giles of Ham to LotR! It's almost as if Tolkien had parodied himself.
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"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx

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Old 2nd January 2018, 03:50 PM   #149
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I passed some time with 5th/6th-graders recently by reading "The Hunger Games" to them. The idea of being 11 years old and providing for the family while adults are mired in depression seemed to resonate with them. Every couple of paragraphs I asked them questions to make sure they were still with me. I wouldn't use that book with younger children.

As a kid I spent a couple of summers with no electricity and my mother read to us from "Kidnapped" by Coleman lantern. Also some Edgar Allan Poe, thanks Mom! I'm surprised how it makes kids settle down, even older ones.

I had 3 older brothers and we were all interested in WWII.

So a bunch of idiots, when "The Hunger Games" movie came out, were idiotically shocked when a black actress was cast as Rue ... despite the description of dark brown skin from the book. It's only one sentence and they had apparently read right over it.

One problem with reading is that the craze for "metrics" means that reading-comprehension material is almost sadistically boring. You need to be able to ask standardized-test type questions, and you need a lot of versions lest kids start getting too interested in the story and remembering answers from test to test. The material has to all be at the same level so you can look for growth in useless rounds of "benchmark testing" that don't count for a grade and are administered so that educators can see how well they're teaching.

How reading is taught fell into place for me when decades after suffering through "Dick and Jane" stories I realized what they were for. It was part of an anti-phonics movement to get kids to remember "sight words" vs. sounding things out phonetically. Changing fashions in pedagogy inevitably mean kids are caught up in waves of reform where the baby is routinely thrown out with the bathwater. As a matter of fact sometimes they toss the baby while retaining the bathwater.
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Old 2nd January 2018, 04:13 PM   #150
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The concept "sight words" is new to me. I've never encountered it before. It's weird that it doesn't seem to exist in any other European languages. The Wikipedia article only has links to Arabic, Japanese and Chinese.
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"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 2nd January 2018, 04:44 PM   #151
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Originally Posted by Strawberry View Post
There has never, in the history of the universe, been a book about flowers which became a best seller among girls.
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikiped...Tiger-lily.jpg
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Old 2nd January 2018, 04:57 PM   #152
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
I've only read Perdido Street Station, but it never occurred to me that Mieville might be a Marxist.

Well, aside from the hint that he has been known to describe himself as a "Marxist-feminist", there's this (from his wiki bio);

Quote:
Miéville is active in left-wing politics in the UK and has previously been a member of the International Socialist Organization (US), and the short-lived International Socialist Network. He was formerly a member of the Socialist Workers Party and in 2013 became a founding member of Left Unity.[1] He stood for Regent's Park and Kensington North for the Socialist Alliance in the 2001 UK General election, gaining 1.2% of votes cast. He published his PhD thesis on Marxism and international law as a book.
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Old 2nd January 2018, 05:01 PM   #153
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
Funnily enough, one of the stories mentioned here - about a quilt - reminded me of a story that appears in a Houghton Mifflin Reading Book for elementary school children I teach on Saturdays. The story is called The Keeping Quilt, and a summary on Amazon states:



As you can imagine, the 9 and 10 year olds that I teach are thoroughly enraptured by this story...


Haha! No, it is dull, just like almost all the stories in these anthologies. For the most part, they tend to be as "inoffensive" as possible, stripped of almost all drama, or humour, and have some kind of didactic message, usually about how the protagonist learns to love their culture's traditions.

So we have Grandma's Records:


And Poppa's New Pants:


The Talking Cloth:


Dancing Rainbows:



Yumni and Halomni's Trip:


I'm sure all the stories are well-meaning, but God they are dull!

As a result, I also bring in Choose Your Own Adventure books, Julia Donaldson, David Walliams, Roald Dahl, and yes they can read Harry Potter from the library too. These students are not native speakers of English usually, so their reading level is usually lower than those in the US or the UK, and they also read Graded Readers and Oxford Reading Tree books.
I feel so deprived. I had to make do with Richmal Crompton, Rider Haggard, WE Johns, and Arthur Ransome.
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Old 2nd January 2018, 06:51 PM   #154
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When I was a kid it was clearly understood that you have to read crappy boring stuff for school, then you pick your own books to read for fun. No child has ever been limited to only reading what the school compels them to.
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Old 2nd January 2018, 07:09 PM   #155
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It's funny because they're boys and they'll grow up to be rapists anyway.


Go girlz!!!
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Old 2nd January 2018, 07:15 PM   #156
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Originally Posted by applecorped View Post
It's funny because they're boys and they'll grow up to be rapists anyway.


Go girlz!!!
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Old 2nd January 2018, 07:15 PM   #157
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Originally Posted by PhantomWolf View Post
Wow, you managed to write a post that is 100% incorrect, do you also write speeches for Trump?
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Old 2nd January 2018, 08:17 PM   #158
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Originally Posted by Information Analyst View Post
Not in the original book. The whole "sea water kills them" thing is just the culmination of the lighthouse vignettes that they had to crowbar into the (also not much like the book) narrative because once shot it barely filled an hour. In the book it's all spring-loaded Triffid Guns firing sheet steel projectiles, shotguns, and flamethrowers. It's the only language Triffids understand (Clack! Clack! Clack!).
Mea culpa - read the book long ago and saw the movie more often!!!
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Old 2nd January 2018, 08:29 PM   #159
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As to kid reading, I was a reader from very early on - did all the Dr. Seuss and books on mythologies along with Heinlein juveniles in the school library. (1st-3rd grade). When we moved to another part of Nashville, had a teacher who read Dickens to us (David Copperfield ) and others. Out of boredom in 4th or 5th grade I read World Book (about 2 months to go through all 24-26 volumes) and then 12 or so Horatio Alger books the teacher had in the room. Two books guaranteed the plots were all the same, but the characters were all interesting and all the bad guys (businessmen or their very naughty children) got their comeuppances.

More about the author and the books: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horatio_Alger

also: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_n...=Horatio+Alger

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Old 2nd January 2018, 08:40 PM   #160
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In 3rd grade I started reading Poe and unsanitized Greek mythology voraciously. They were not assigned for class.

I think it's funny that the OP argues boys are being left behind because the subjects of books are not on the list of 'acceptable guy interests' while seemingly ignoring that reading books for fun is in and of itself also absent from that list. The attitude that reading for fun is 'inherently girly' goes right along with 'adventure is inherently for boys'.
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