Not quoting any of them here.
One thing that really got me, as in it actually upsets
me, is looking at picture books and seeing a review that the person in question didn't like it because although they found the book cute, funny, well-written, nicely illustrated, or this and that, they didn't like it because it's not up to their educational standards.
They say something along the lines of how books for their
kids all have to have some sort of redeeming value - if they don't actively teach new vocabulary then they have to have a moral, if they don't teach geography than there should be some math in there.
I have two things to say here.
The first is that these people are often blind to the literacy-building potential of the books they're criticizing - they don't see the repetition, the clever wordplay, the onomatopoeia as helping language skills, which is entirely to their loss. (And they never, *ever* see use of non-standard language as a good thing, but that's beside the point.)
The second, more important point is this:
I don't think these people really enjoy reading.
Certainly, they can't see any point in reading for its own sake if they feel they have to choose books based on their dubious educational value
Oh, I'm not saying that you shouldn't
read books that have some form of lesson, or that it shouldn't be a factor in which books you pick out from the library. I just don't think it should be the defining
It actually reminds me of a comment I got in the 8th grade. (That was with the English teacher who thought her interpretation of Julius Caesar was the only possible one, and didn't even realize "it was his destiny" was intended as a joke
I read all the time. She knew I read all the time. The whole class knew I read all the time. The whole *school* must have known, because random strangers sure kept asking me why I read all the time! I was easily identified by my nose in a book at all times.
If it weren't for my reluctance to do any work, I would clearly have had some of the best grades in her class. I certainly did well enough on the tests, with no effort or preparation whatsoever.
One day I'm entering or leaving class, and she noticed the book I was reading. Sixth Grade Secrets.
I really liked that book. Still do, in fact. I mean, it's Louis Sacher
And she stopped me and asked me why I was reading a book that was "too easy" for me.
I was confused and upset by the question then, but it took me a while to figure out why
. Now I know, though.
I remember my IEP. By the 4th grade - four years before this incident - I tested as having a college reading level.
While I doubt the woman knew exactly how well I read, she must have surely had some clue. It wasn't exactly a secret
. And yet, she thought that I should treat reading as... as some kind of race, trying to improve myself. It wasn't enough to read well, or to enjoy reading. No, I had to read progressively harder books, simply because they're, what, difficult?
. How pointlessly, utterly absurd
to say to a child!
This is why many children don't enjoy reading. It's not something they're naturally good at, they don't get that much practice at it either, and when they do read it's treated as a chore, something to do for its redeeming social value, not something to do because it's fun
. Heaven forbid you buy a book for your child simply because you enjoy it - no, it has to do double duty and teach
him something or it should just stay right there on the shelf!
And there's nothing wrong with learning from books. I read to learn easily as much as I read just for fun. It's just that, especially with children, the emphasis really ought to be on the fact that books are entertaining. Who cares if they educate? Your kids can spend their whole lives being educated
, but that's not exactly going to make a lifelong reader out of them.
Now, I'm certain that the books these well-meaning adults ultimately choose for their children are also fun to read. At least I hope so. But I'm still irked at the suggestion that their priorities are superior because they
only pick educational
books for their kids. That's not a way to approach reading. Not a way to live your life. Just... not.