Pecan Pie

Social Anxiety from the South

Summer Reading

Reading is one of the great joys of my life. My grandmother instilled in me a wonderful appreciation for the written word at a very early age. I remember summers at her house well. The local library was only about a mile away and instead of driving such a frivolously minute distance we would walk. The blazing hot asphalt burning my heels through my Keds tennis shoes, sweat beading up on my brow while I imagined the adventures waiting for me just over the hill. Sometimes we would stop and pick the wild blackberries on the other side of the fence. My arms all scratched up from thorns, but the sweet taste so decadent in my four year old mouth.

I would skip in anticipation, occasionally tripping over my own small feet and skinning my dirty knees. Once there, I loaded up on as many books as we were allowed to check out. The walk home was always much longer than the one there.

Back at her house, I would beg Grandmother to read them all to may. Maybe a few times. Then the trip would start all over again the next day.

I started kindergarten reading very well. For a while, after my parents divorce, my mother and I lived with Grandmother.

One day, she asked me, “How do you like school?”

“I don’t, it’s boring.”

“Why is that?”

“I already know everything.” (Out of the mouths of babes, right?)

In middle school, I devoured the Georgia Book Award nominees list each year and read high school level works like Gone with the Wind, Silence of the Lambs and QB VII. I was fascinated with Holocaust literature and loved reading books about it.

When I reached high school, summer reading again had a wonderful meaning. It was a chance to be introduced to new classics that could entertain me and bring me an ‘A’ in class. I enjoyed the essays assigned where I could show off my knowledge of the work studied and my comprehension of it’s themes. I took Advanced Placement English with the same enthusiasm I had as a five year old with my first library card.

One day, my ex-husband and I were taking up ticket money at a sporting event for the middle school where he taught. The high school was there playing a game as well and we had the wonderful pleasure of speaking with the AP English teacher, who was taking money for her team. Since my ex-husband wanted to move up to high school eventually, this was an excellent opportunity for him to talk to someone teaching NOW where he wanted to be in the future.

Our worst fears, propagated by sixth graders who exceedingly cannot read, were confirmed. Apparently, Faulkner has been banned from the summer reading list. Not because a child was offended, but because a parent, probably a Bible thumping illiterate who wouldn’t know good literature if it was spelled out in the New Testament, complained. The language is offensive. This parent also pushed for her child to be accepted into the AP/honors program at the discouragement of her child’s teachers.

We are raising a generation of live in the moment non-learners. Learning only what will get them through that day. Even though the benefits of the whole lesson will take them on a path much easier than their counterparts in college (CLEP-ting or AP-ing out of 101 and 102 classes, higher SAT and ACT scores), they refuse to see past the here and now. Why? Because so many parents do not hold their children accountable. The language is offensive, Harry Potter is about witchcraft, hell, my ex-husband had a student’s parent complain about Tuck Everlasting because someone is murdered!

Life is offensive. Sometimes you hear language that makes your ears ring. People die everyday, kids learn more about murder on CSI than they every could from a middle school novel. What the novel does that the tv does not, is teach them about death. About life and consequences. Global life themes that Grand Theft Auto leaves behind in a haze of CGI smoke.

Our kids will live in a computer generated world, but the pain and joy they will know in life cannot be recreated online. It is our responsibility as parents to give them the tools to deal with the intangible lessons of life. I truly believe a love of reading is a way to do that.

Reading eliminates two very detrimental things in society.

Illiteracy.

Ignorance.

Written by thelittlepecan

April 14, 2007 at 4:12 pm

Posted in education

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