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    A very interesting NY Times article about changing how schools teach literature:

    What say you?


    Another article in this series: Online, R U Really Reading?


    I’ve started both of the articles and they seem interesting. The teenage girl of the second article just seems like a typical female internet user or something; one of those people who hates reading and loves the internet. But, um, yeah. I haven’t finished them and I should probably be asleep right now, so I’ll check them out later.

    • CommentTimeAug 30th 2009

    OK, on the first article… I just don’t agree. Maybe for 11th or 12th graders, but 7th/8th graders?! Come on, what 7th/8th grader is actually going to read good literature?! And perhaps some people think that we don’t need to read the classics, but… I’ve only recently seriously started reading classics of my own volition. But I never would have realized that old books are pretty good unless someone forced me to read some first.

    On the second… they’re basically saying that anyone who is online or plays videogames or watches a lot of TV doesn’t like reading, which is a stupid generalization, because I’m online almost constantly and play videogames, and yet I read the Iliad and a Tale of Two Cities for personal enjoyment. I’m glad, though, that they’re recognizing fanfiction/reading online as a form of reading, though… because it really is reading! (the girl’s fanfic plots sound retarded, though. Very Sue-ish, and she spelling “dying” wrong)


    Agree with you on the first article. During the eighth grade, Twilight was offered as a book choice for our literary circles. Granted, this was before I knew how bad it was, but still…(I chose The Book Thief, and absolutely loved it) Twilight should be read during a student’s free time. I wouldn’t want to spend tax dollars so tween girls can squee over Edward during Language Arts class.

    About the second article- I like to read NYTimes articles online…as evidenced by citing the above two articles. However, I’ve never been able to read fanfiction. I tried to write one once, and it was terrible. The majority that I’ve heard about are badly spelled with horrible grammar and Mary Sue noncanon characters. This might be an unfair stereotype, but I’d rather read the actual work that fanfic based on it. It’s reading, sure, but how much benefit do you really get out of it?

    • CommentAuthorUn-Dante'd
    • CommentTimeAug 31st 2009

    Reading is reading.
    There is a certain mystique of reading a book like Inkspell by lamplight at midnight, with the soft light mixing with the shadows, but as long as she’s reading it shouldn’t be a problem, right? The classics DO have value, and I’m sure when Nadia matures and takes her degree in English, she will read them. It’s like saying “only adults read newspapers”. The author seems to be talking down on Nadia and all teenagers when she basically says that reading on the internet isn’t as wholesome as reading a book. I think that this article is pretty biased.
    Reading a book and reading on the internet may seem different, but at least Nadia isn’t obsessed with Sailor Moon and is actually reading and exercising her creativity muscle.

    • CommentTimeAug 31st 2009

    On fanfiction:
    Never ever ever read it on… there’s really no quality control there, so it’s all terrible. If there’s a particular fandom you enjoy, find a private site specifically geared toward it, because they often will have moderators who check every submission. Granted, this doesn’t mean they’re all going to be fabulous, but at least they’ll have a minimum length and probably won’t have as terrible of grammar/spelling as FF.Net. Also, if there’s a forum, you could ask the oldies for recommendations. [/suggestion]


    Reading is Reading

    This is true. However, I do love analyzing lovely books in class. It makes the whole experience so much richer, especially in a book like To Kill A Mockingbird. How can a fanfic possibly compare?

    • CommentTimeAug 31st 2009 edited

    It can’t really… fanfiction is reading, but… not really proper reading. You aren’t going to get the themes, characters, or great writing in fanfiction.

    • CommentAuthorUn-Dante'd
    • CommentTimeAug 31st 2009

    It doesn’t. But not everybody gets to analyze books in class, only those with English teachers who actually give a damn. We just analyzed To Kill a Mockingbird in school last year, and I found it quite good, but if we broke it down as an eBook, I can’t tell the difference. What I’m getting at is at least she’s reading, and she’ll be exposed to the classics throughout the course of her education. When she’s mature, she will wonder “What was that book that they mentioned about?” and read it. Right now I’m reading Dante’s The Divine Comedy because I heard it mentioned in Jodi Piccoult’s book The Tenth Circle. Or I’ll hear it from word-of-mouth.


    True- the value of a book is in the words and not the print.

    But really, if you’re on a forum like II, and just talking about Footwear, or Minor Quibbles, does that count as ‘reading’? You’re reading, as in you take in the words, but it doesn’t really expand your vocabulary (ok, it might here, because we’re a writing site and most people here are pretty literate) or comprehension. Then again, you can read stuff like Twilight and Gossip Girl and it doesn’t have much of a benefit either.

    I guess it’s kind of an impasse, and depends on whether the person wants to read good literature. If they want to, they’ll find a way. If they don’t, they’ll just ignore their English teachers.

    (Oh, and about Nadia. If she’s writing, she obviously has to be doing some sort of reading, or something that inspires her. Which is good. Writing fanfiction is probably going to be more intellectually stimulating than watching Hannah Montana on TV. And if she’s really interested in writing, she’ll end up reading the classics eventually, or some sort of good literature to see what someone else did right.)

    • CommentAuthorUn-Dante'd
    • CommentTimeAug 31st 2009

    That’s what I’m getting at. She’ll follow the path to Enlightenment. Cue the choir.


    That is, if all goes well. Cue the thunder, lightning, and ominous chanting.

    • CommentAuthorUn-Dante'd
    • CommentTimeAug 31st 2009


    • CommentTimeAug 31st 2009


    • CommentAuthorUn-Dante'd
    • CommentTimeAug 31st 2009

    I want Starcraft :(


    If no one has anything valuable to add…well add it now if you do, because I’ll be closing this thread by tomorrow. If I remember.

    • CommentAuthorRocky
    • CommentTimeAug 31st 2009 edited
    I'd rather kids have to read books they find boring, as opposed to having them develop a lifelong love of idiotic literature.

    ^^ Well, I want them to love reading…but forcing them to read what I think is ‘good’ might not be the best way to bring that about.

    • CommentAuthorRocky
    • CommentTimeAug 31st 2009
    True, but given the sort of quality of entertainment available on an instantaneous level, it doesn't hurt.

    I liked what the teacher told that kid who was reading Maximum Flight. "...if you are going to write a book review of substance, you are going to have to find substance in the book.”

    Ideally, kids should read it at home.

    OR they should have what my school has- Sustained Silent Reading. Every Tues. and Thurs., you get a half-hour to read whatever the heck you want to read.


    I would agree with kids choosing books they like, but most kids choose things that aren’t particularly stimulating, which is fine sometimes. I loved To Kill a Mockingbird, but I probably wouldn’t have read it if it weren’t assigned because I didn’t really know what it was about. It was nothing like what I expected. So, since kids mostly choose easy, pop books, they should be assigned good literature. There are several things that I’ve had to read that I really didn’t like, but there are also some that I did. However, I do think that kids should be encouraged to read what they like in edition to what is assigned.

    “I would have N3V3R thought of or about something like that on my own.”

    WTF!? “N3V3ER” has the same number of characters as “never.” Why did she do this? And was this writing for an assignment? Ugh, I weep for humanity. “How do you spell ‘never,’ dear?” “N-three-V-three-R.”

    • CommentAuthorRocky
    • CommentTimeAug 31st 2009 edited
    I agree. Were it not for assigned reading, I would've never discovered the awesome that is _Leiningen vs. the Ants_.

    to give students in grades 6, 7 and 8 more control over what they read.

    The usage of the word “control” here bothers me. It makes me think that any books that these children have chosen in the past have been slapped out of their hands and replaced with copies of Tom Sawyer. There’s this thing called “free time” where you can read whatever you want with complete control over it. I know that that is not how that sentence was meant to be taken, but it annoyed me all the same.

    and is the best way to prepare students for standardized tests.

    gags I hate that the educational system’s only purpose now is “to prepare students for standardized tests.” No wonder these kids don’t like reading… or school (I also hate the latter). The reason for teaching classics should have nothing to do with tests. It should be to expose them to things other than current New York Times best sellers.

    Letting students choose their own books, they say, can help to build a lifelong love of reading.

    This can be true, but if all they read is Captain Underpants, how much is “loving reading” really helping them. It’s okay to like those kinds of things if you also enjoy, or at least try to enjoy, more complicated books.

    “Kids will pick things that are trendy and popular. But that’s what you should do in your free time.”

    Thank you, voice of reason!

    /end rant… for now.


    Captain Underpants is beyond stupid.

    I think the best system is what my 8th grade teacher employed (nix the Twilight, of course, but other than that, it was a pretty good system): for each unit (historical fiction, sci-fi, etc. etc.) offer a variety of different books, all of high quality, and let the kids choose which of the books they want to read based on what the story’s about.


    Captain Underpants is beyond stupid.

    Never read them, and I don’t plan to.

    offer a variety of different books, all of high quality, and let the kids choose which of the books they want to read based on what the story’s about.

    That’s a good system. We had to pick books off of an AP list. Some were okay, while others were…

    That’s the thing about classics though. They can sound really cool but be incredibly boring, or they can sound really boring but be incredibly cool.

    • CommentTimeAug 31st 2009
    Rocky: That was possibly the best short story I have ever read. I actually felt terror.

    Okay, now I need to read this story.

    • CommentTimeSep 1st 2009

    Best short story I ever read: The Most Dangerous Game. I love that story!

    @SWQ – I agree with that system- that way, you do allow kids to choose things they’re interested in, while still making sure it’s a decent book. My English teacher last year had a similar system for book reports (except they weren’t all interesting books, they were all boring books), but if you found a different book that still fit his “theme” for the marking period, he let you read it, too. Which is how I managed to snag Alice in Wonderland, whoo!

    • CommentTimeSep 1st 2009

    “I keep trying to get you to read things other than James Patterson,” Ms. Atwell said, tapping the book’s cover. “But if you are going to write a book review of substance, you are going to have to find substance in the book.”

    I laughed. So hard.

    It doesn’t sound like a bad idea, but I why not do both? Have them choose one book for themselves, and then study Mockingbird as well? The classics are classics for a reason.


    Never ever ever read it on… there’s really no quality control there, so it’s all terrible.

    I just want to say that, while the majority of it is shit, there’s always that gem in the heap of shit on that site taht does deal with mature themes, etc. So yeah.


    I also love The Most Dangerous Game.


    About fanfiction: I write it. I mostly don’t finish it, but I do write it. To me, fanfic is to novel-writing as the practices are to the championships: you have a lot of them, they may be terrible, but they are good practice and might occasionally be fun. However, they are nowhere near as important as the championships.

    And yeah, I am an obsessive-compulsive reader and I’m on the Internet all the time. So while I think online reading isn’t as good as book reading (with a few exceptions), it’s not like I’m the only one. This site is an example of that!


    I’m afraid to blaspheme my favorite fandoms with my awful fanfiction.

    But The Most Dangerous Game is a good one.