We read scriptures together every night. As they got older, they would take turns in the reading. What I liked was that we would discuss issues and beliefs as we read. That was a mainstay for us. Because I've done some reading in religion, theology and philosophy, I liked to bring in multiple perspectives to help them develop a broader world view.
I read a lot of different things aloud to them. We did Dr. Suess, Roald Dahl and Shel Silversten when they were younger. They loved all three of them. As they got older, we moved to things like "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" and "The Little Prince", which are two of my favorite books to use as a springboard for values-type discussions. I also read them SWTWC and MC. Every Halloween, I would read them a Poe story before sending them out for trick-or-treating.
Mostly, we decided NOT to have tv. We have a television and VCR and would use the tv like a trip to the movies. We ONLY watched movies on it. So they had plenty of time to read. I grew up in a home with books in every room. That is how our house is. I think when books are around, kids pick up "books" in their system. They have some idle time and pull one down and get sucked into reading. Before they know it, two hours have passed and they are in to a new world.
My older daughter (the Billy Collins fan) likes a lot of contemporary authors. One of her favorites is Chuck Palahniuk (who wrote "Fight Club"). I think she's read about everything he's ever written. She loves Lois Lowry's "The Giver". She loves Pride and Prejudice, but seems mostly interested in contemporary literature that has a sense of quality to it. She's 19 and in Idaho majoring in English.
My younger daughter and I share a love of the Lord of the Rings and the newer Harry Potter series. She's 15 and reads all kinds of fiction, literature, biography, memoirs. She is an inverate reader. She went with me last June to meet with Ray Bradbury in his home. She had a good time, but I think it will take her a few years to really grasp what an unusual opportunity that was. Mr. Bradbury was a wonderful host.
Hey, I really like the "book in every room" theory. The ideas exchanged on this message board never cease to amaze me. If you're not careful, you could actually learn something here.
I noticed you listed Gladwell's "The Tipping Point" on your in-progress reading list. It's fascinating food for thought, trying to consider the exact point that a change in group thought or public perception occurs. I loved the book. I read it twice.
How is Genius by Harold Bloom? I've flipped through one of his books and thought he was a fairly good critic. I saw his comment on Bradbury some time back and I disagree with his writing that Bradbury is a writer of "romance". Some of his stories are romantic but to blanket Bradbury's work with that word is absolutely wrong. Bloom does clarify that he means a traditional type of romance not the romance writing of today with Fabio on the cover. I'm still waiting for Mr Dark's book to straighten this matter out.
I had forgot Shel Silverstein! His books were by far the most popular when I was in elementary school. Some scoff at children's writers but they are very important to society. Well, except Madonna I didn't read anything by Dahl until recently and he has got to be one of the best short story writers I've read. I'd put him up there with Bradbury. Of course this is coming from a person who doesn't think O'Henry or Saki were that good.
Mr. Dark--I recently had a student's mother recommend The Secret Life of Bees for my book club. Since I have never read it I was wondering if you would recommend it for a middle school book club (seventh and eighth grade girls)? What you said and what the mother said both make it sound great, but I just wanted to see what you thought since you had brought it up. Thanks for any feedback from you or anyone else who has read the book. As for what I am reading--just finished rereading Fahrenheit 451 and loved it all over again. Am now reading The Cat Who Smelled a Rat (very lightweight but fun), The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (am teaching it to my seventh graders), and The Princess Diaries (our current book club selection and surprisingly funny).
[This message has been edited by lmskipper (edited 02-21-2004).]
Not too terribly long ago, I went through a period of re-reading all of the books I could remember from my late elementary school, early junior high years, in preparation for recommending them to my oldest daughter. (Island of the Blue Dolphin, My Side of the Mountain, etc.) I picked up some new things - Jacob Have I Loved, Sarah, Plain and Tall, Skylark, some others - and concluded that these books, and others, for young people are some of the most compelling fiction out there today. They contain simpled, clear writing, strong characters, good plots, uplifting themes, all of the things I look for in good, creative writing and much of which I find, sadly, lacking in adult contemporary literature.
You're right on that, Pete. Some of the titles become obscure when I think about what I read or was read to in elementary school except some of the greater ones. I do remember reading Sarah, Plain and Tall in middle school the same year I read A Day No Pigs Would Die. Haven't read My Side of the Mountain but remember pretty clearly watching the movie in school. First time I heard the name Thoreau. Modern fiction is really terrible. I've wasted some hours reading and praying these books would get better but they never do. I would have better spent my time talking to a group of juvenile delinquents.
[This message has been edited by Ought Not (edited 02-23-2004).]
Last book read: NIGHTMARE ABBEY by Thomas Love Peacock (I recently began reading Peacock...for the first time...after Ray described for me his excitement and enthusiam for Peacock's work. I'm glad I listened!)
Currently reading: THE INTRUDER, by Charles Beaumont
Next book to read: I have hundreds of unread books scattered about my house. When I am looking for my next book, I generally stick out my arm and start reading whichever book "jumps" into my hand!
Hello to all,
what about some of the French classics - where is Zola, Balzac or Flaubert in all this? Where are the Russian masters? What of the key British writers - very few equal the Swifts, the Shaws, or the Wildes. Finally, what about the Spaniards? Cervantes or Marquez anyone? Doesn't ayone think here that there should be a priority in reading books and novels - the classics first? Let me know everyone how You stand on this.
No problem with the classics. I thought the original question was about what we're currently reading.
True, that was the question. But why are so few people quoting the major authors? (essentially, I'm lamenting the state of today's readership: People are reading all of those nice and modern writers, without realizing that a lot of what they read is a direct imitation of the old bards).
Don't dismiss all Modern Fiction as being junk. There's been nice stuff in recent years by Lethem, Chabon, Enger, Peter Carey and others. Unfortunately, just like with music and films, crap sells and crap gets hyped. I discovered Peace Like a River because my daughter had to read it over the summer for an English project. I liked the jacket description and read the book myself and found it to be a very well-writen story with overtones of fantasy and spirituality (and I'm not a New Ager, so I don't automatically buy that stuff). Sometimes you just stumble on to something good...sometimes it finds you.
To Ought Not:
You are right in discounting the modern writers; some are simply not that great. I believe that the old masters were not better, for the distribution of good writers to bad writers was probably similar, however, the bad and mediocre ones simply did not withstand the test of time. Hence, it is very hard to find a good modern writer because there are so many junky ones out there. Ps - I missed that you actually wrote of both Balzac as well as Cervantes in your earlier post; kudos to you.
While accepting the reality that there are some bad/shallow/perverted writers out there, many of whom will not stand the test of time; I think there is some OUTSTANDING writing being done today. Some of the writers I really enjoy and admire are:
Ray Bradbury (of course)
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
E. Annie Proulx
Ernest J. Gaines
Philip K. Dick
This doesn't even begin to exhaust all the great stuff being written right now. My complaint isn't that there is a dearth of good writing; it's that I simply don't have time to keep up with it all.
This is no slam to the classics. I'm a fan, and regret that we are raising a generation that has not even read the American classics.
But, I disagree that there is no quality literature being produced today. I think we may be in a golden age of contemporary literature, myself.
I wish I had the talent to contribute!
Don't tell Oprah Winfrey about all the good books out there... You remember she closed the 'Oprah Book Club' because there just wasn't anything good out there.
(Of course the honest reason was that TV viewers were not as plenty during the Oprah Book Club telecasts, and they couldn't charge as much for TV advertisers. Oh, Tsk tsk!!)
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