Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Importance of Re-Reading

When I was in elementary school, I had to read The Giver for school. It was a good book, Lois Lowry's style is easy for a child to read, and the plot was interesting, as were the characters. Later in life my mum bought me a copy of Gathering Blue, Lowry's companion book to The Giver, which was also good. This year I found the third book in the companion series, Messenger and wanted to read it, but it had been years since I'd read The Giver, so I re-read it. Looking at this book from where I am in life, years later than when I had first read it, I find it to be completely different. It's incredibly dark, something I only got a glimpse of when I was young. The community Jonas lives in is a perfect communism, absolute mannequinism as well. When we first read this book, we had yet to be taught what a communism was, we would have never made that oh-so-clear connection.

Things change as you age, you gain more experience to draw on, more connections to be made, and even a better understanding of the vocabulary and topics in a book. Maybe you missed something when you first read a book a few years ago, something that you'll understand now. Maybe you'll love a book you didn't much care for before, maybe you'll see a classic in a new light. Rereading isn't repeating, it's a new way of looking at things, and as a reader, and certainly as a writer*, this is important.

*Why is it important for writers? Because we can get a glimpse at what our readers will think when they read our book--the different ways it can be viewed. Some people will get the message, some won't. Some will like it, some won't. It depends on the reader--but who knows, maybe they'll re-read it later in life and finally understand what you want.

Are We Pushing Kids Too Much?

Ronald Reagan, did you know his favorite food was jelly beans? A third grader named Joe does. For a presentation on former US President Reagan, Joe had to research everything about Reagan's life, or so it seemed; certainly this 9 year old knows more than most adults do about this man--or any past president. He needed to find out about his childhood, his time spent in the movies, and his time spent in and out of office, and then present it to his fellow third graders. Everyone in his class did this with a different president, and the really famous ones like Washington weren't allowed. Earlier this year the class did an in-depth report on national parks which included knowing the location, square footage, history, and animal habits, more even. A word on a recent spelling test was "picturesque," which Joe's 16 year old sister had a hard time even pronouncing. I must point out, this class is a "gifted" class, but that should mean they're learning at a 4th grade level, not at a 12th grade one. I know for a fact that average high school seniors do not have projects like this.

When these kids are being prepared for universities before they even make it to middle school, we have to ask ourselves: are we pushing kids too much to achieve in school? Are we expecting too much? Should 5th graders really be smarter than us--should they have a show proving it? And how much stress are we giving these children, pressuring them to get good marks and achieve now so they can do well in life later on?

Let kids be kids, because once you're grown there's no turning back time.

Friday, March 02, 2007

February 2007 Reading List

Messenger by Lois Lowry; 169 pages; 28 Jan-13 Feb; library
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer; 498 pages; 13 Feb-18 Feb; library
New Moon by Stephenie Meyer; 576 pages; 18 Feb-21 Feb; borrowed from Jess M
Magic Knight: Rayearth I Vol 1; CLAMP; 192 pages; 22 Feb; borrowed from Noel R
Magic Knight: Rayearth I Vol 2; CLAMP; 208 pages; 22 Feb; borrowed from Noel R

5 books by 3 authors with a total of 1643 pages, not bad for February, eh?

Notes of interest:
  • I tied for first place in my qualifying exam for the IL state SkillsUSA photoshop competition

  • For those in the area, the Homer Library is hosting a digital art contest, a YouTube contest, and a free HTML class that I will be co-teaching.

  • I'm going to be competing in 4 contests this year: homepage design, web design, photoshop, and get this...suitcase. It's the biggest joke to our team, so we decided to enter this year

  • My new books, if anyone cares what I'm buying: Lady Friday by Garth Nix, Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carrol, and Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare. I also just recieved the boxed set of Harry Potter I ordered through Scholastic last month.

  • Lady Friday, the 5th book in the Keys to the Kingdom series by Garth Nix is out! Everyone go read it, it's brilliant!

  • X-Factor #16 is also out, all fans of X-Factor, Multiple Man, or just comics in general should read it--my favorite series with my favorite character!
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