When Books Were..Over My Head.

I still get publishers’ materials about the latest education books. And I can’t stop myself from looking–and alas, getting discouraged. Heinemann! I used to love-ya. Trust Heinemann…and implement the Como Core with confidence.” I hate the idea of “implementing” books. One book “Explicitly links instruction to the standards for nonfiction.” We’re moving away, incidentally, from fiction. Some of these may be great…well, good…well, as good as they can be, given…that you’d never pick any of them up for a good read.

I browse in Rogers Bookstore–my neighborhood (Hillsdale) used-book barn as often as I can. I used to go there weekly to bring a box back to school–especially beautiful–yes physically. These were books that were too expensive to buy but give the young a literal feel for what we now call “hard copy”. Many of the books I brought to school were over the kids heads. But I had sent my youth browsing amongst books (and conversations) that were over my head. It’s the way little children learn to talk, build a vocabulary, make sense of their world–by making sense over time of a world that’s rarely “at their level”. I’m not advocating that we shouldn’t attend to also speaking and physically even getting down to “their level”. But we sometimes forget that the young have a lot of access to adult talk and adult images. But most of it is either on TV or passing on the street (in ads on buses, for example). But they can learn a lot by being part of the world we want them to yearn for. I used to listen to the conversation at the dinner table (generally over my head), and on occasion I might even throw a few words in. Proudly but hesitantly. We had a common K-12 library at Central Park East–and encouraged 3rd graders and 11th graders to browse freely among the books. It hurts to see a world in which textbooks–that no one would read if they weren’t obliged to or weren’t prepping for a test–are among the few hard-cover books left.

But, I agree. In a generation (if I had that kind of time) I’d fondle my kindle et al with similar joy and textbooks will all be red on-line too. (Will browsing be possible in this format?)

p.s. Full Disclosure–I love being read to when I drive!

2 Responses

  1. Deb, most of my summer reading was teen novels! I’m not sure how I got started, other than a weariness with the fiction choices at the loca library. There are some very good options out their for teens.

    Give credit to J.K. Rowling, I’d guess. The ones I read had much in common with her Harry Potter formula. Percy Jackson and the Olympians was the one most readers might recognize.

    But Lisa Bergen’s “Waterfall” and “Cascade” were the last. Imagine! I went back for seconds on a teen girl novel! There’s enough history–it’s not extremely deep–or at least historical setting to hold interest. And, for me, there’s a curiosity about what popular writers are communicating to their young readers on modern issues and timeless values.

    All five or the series had in common that they weave in historical figures or places. (Or at least the historically timeless characters of the Greek gods). And they include modern American teens reaching out of their dull classroom lives to do something real.

    “The Alchemist” and “Mister Monday” rounded out the set. All of these are the first in a series.

    Great options for teens.

  2. One more thing. We can’t emphasize enough how teens (and adults!) need to understand that 15 minutes a day will have them finishing books regularly. So many people find a book daunting. But 15 minutes a day will take a reader miles!

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