Monday, July 26, 2010

We could use some new classics

Don't you think?

I'm sure there are hoardes of bibliophiles out there who will stock up on the rotten tomatoes to lob at my blog after this post, but here goes anyway.

When will we stop torturing kids with the 'classics' of literature and let them read some newer, and hopefully more interesting stuff?

My daughter's summer reading assignment was Catcher in the Rye, which she just slogged her way through. She confessed she hated the book, and she felt much the same way about the books she had to read last summer too. I forget those titles, but they were similar intruments of brain cell destruction. [No offense to Salinger fans, but I have yet to meet anyone who actually enjoyed Catcher.]

It really bothers me, not that these old standards have managed to endure for all these years, but that at a time when there are so many things vying for our kids' attention, schools still insist on a diet of maudlin, depressing, confusing literature. I'm not saying that none of these books have any merit, but when the majority of kids hate what they're reading, how are we going to ever hope to turn out a new generation of book lovers?

I was lucky that despite having been made to read Atlas Shrugged in high school, which I recall as eight million pages of boring after boring after boring, I still loved to read. I adored Gone with the Wind and War and Peace and Little Women. I was the kid who spent all my allowance on books. I'm also lucky that my daughter likes to read, and spends a good deal of her own allowance on books [though a lot of them are manga].But not every kid out there has a taste for reading, and why should they these days when TV, video games and iPods command the lion's share of their brain power?

I'm not suggesting we make Harry Potter and [heaven for fend, Twilight] mandatory reading, but I'm sure there are some fun and interesting books out there that teenagers and pre-teens can learn more from than how to buy Cliffs Notes.

Anyone have any suggestions?

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