Sunday, August 24, 2008

"Classic" Books

As my children prepare for their school year, they're both finishing up their required summer reading and writing papers. I'm not surprised my son has let this go until the last minute, but my daughter is such a voracious reader, I expected her to have her completed long ago. Though I actually know why she put it off.
The book she had to read, not to be named here, is BORING. It was written half a century ago by an author from a dysfunctional upbringing who grew up to be a bitter, cynical adult. He writes about the darker nature of man and all the nastier things people do to each other. The world he creates is sinister without even one character possessing any redeeming qualities. Such a glum outlook on the world does not make a book a work of literary art. Yet if you ever see which books school require students to read, they mostly fit into the description above.
Why do we do this to our children? One of the things I loved about Harry Potter was the entertainment it provided young people. It was fun to read. Fun! Interesting! Good won out over evil! And millions of youngsters read all those books cover to cover and often more than once. How can we expect children to love reading when the books we force them to read leave them with the impression that all people are inherently bad and the world is without hope? Why can't we ask them to read something that will have them begging for more to read?
This is a huge peeve of mine when it comes to schools and their reading lists. The books are dry, boring and seldom connect with students. If we must force the students to read such grim fare, can't we update their choices to something written in their lifetime?
At least as adults we can be selective in what we read. I try to make my characters as realistic yet entertaining as possible. I hope you'll check out my previews and blurbs. The Keepers of Sulbreth has many characters who are people doing the best they can against great odds. And in my books, no matter how grim it becomes, I promise the good guys will win. They may have to sacrifice and of course not all of them make it, but evil will not prevail.

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