Nadia Louise (intertribal) wrote,

People of the Book

I get really tired of the argument that it's all right for kids' books to be social-norm-enforcing, poorly-made crap because "at least it gets kids reading."  Reading what?  Grown-up crap?  Ah, but it doesn't matter what they read, right, cuz it's all just about a word exercise - there's nothing contained in the story itself.  Oh no.  No message, direct or indirect or subliminal.  No moral of the story.  No push-nod toward a particular course of action, a particular sort of person, a particular status quo.  Nope, books are empty.  In one ear, out the other.  It's just the act of picking up a bound bundle of paper and looking at words and stringing them together to form a sentence.  Just like addition and subtraction.  A skill, if you'd like.  Girl A only reads Sweet Valley High books and she's intellectually better off than Girl B who doesn't read at all, just watches movies.


I know you want your kid to read.  But just because your kid doesn't like to read doesn't mean you should give them shit to read.  How does that make any goddamn sense?  You're basically saying your precious little pudding has no ability to understand complexity (or other people, or difficult situations...) and shouldn't even try.  And sure, parents should not "monitor" what their kids read or scan their Barnes & Noble purchases.  But should they have conversations about the books their kids are reading?  Yes.  Should they encourage their kids to challenge themselves?  Big Fucking YES.  

Disclaimer: I'm sure it can and has worked, the "gateway drug" method.  And there's nothing wrong with reading SVH or what-have-you.  I was into Goosebumps myself.  (I'll credit Goosebumps for getting me knee-deep in horror, but not reading.)  The problem is that "at least it gets kids reading" is used as a justification-of-shit defense that also functions as a your-critique-is-inherently-invalid card.  Somebody says, "Wow, this book presents a really bad image of people from other countries."  And somebody replies, "At least it gets kids reading!"  And the conversation ends.  (I would love to see this argument applied to The Turner Diaries or The Anarchist Cookbook).  Kind of like "support the troops!" and "it's for charity." 

Double Disclaimer: I never had to be coaxed to read when I was in elementary school (I was given easy-reading versions of Victorian children's lit), and I rarely did out-of-school reading in high school, but I always had hard books to read for class (I absolutely did not know what all words meant as I read them, and I almost threw The Sound And The Fury, The Crossing, Dubliners, Billy Budd, Orlando, Zorba the Greek, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, and the entire works of Shakespeare into the fires of hell after reading their opening segments.  But you don't have to understand what each word/stylistic trick means to read and enjoy the story.  I'd like the story, so I'd read it again, and understand more.  I probably understood only 60% of the words in Blood Meridian.  So I never understood the whole "circle the words you don't know" approach to English class either.  Makes a little more sense in foreign language class, but not much).  My cousin's kid was one of those non-readers who only played video games, so the family pushed Harry Potter onto him, guns blazing.  He was okay with Harry Potter, mostly because of the movies.  Never moved onto anything else.
Tags: another brick in the wall, dumbasses, kids aren't alright, words like violence
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