Saturday, April 8, 2017

Bridge to Terabithia (plus a few other thoughts)

This book! I read it as a child and it made big impact on me. Now that I have a child the age of the two main characters I couldn't wait to read it with her. E brought it home from school and we read it together. Special moments, snuggled on the couch together reading about two awkward 10-year olds who created a friendship with each other when there was nobody else that would give them the time of day.

Fantasy. Family. Faith. Fears. Failure. And ultimately, Friendship.

When we got to the chapter where Leslie Burke dies, I cried. I was reading it out loud at this point and my daughter was surprised, but I could see that the story was affecting her, too. The day after we finished reading it, E went to a friend's for a sleepover and they watched the movie created from this book. That was part of the plan - we just HAD to finish the book by Thursday night because she was going to the sleepover on Friday night.

On Saturday when I picked E up, I asked her about the movie. She said, "Well, I may have shed a tear!" Be still my heart - she takes after her mama!

Other Literature

I love being able to share literature that I enjoyed as a child or teen with my children. But some of the stories that my boys have been bringing home from Middle School, lately, don't interest me at all. They are the Dystopian genre and I think it is too much for some kids. I have recently told my 14-year old that if he is assigned something that he starts reading and decides it is not something he feels comfortable with, then he doesn't have to read it. Plain and simple, if he can give me a reason, then he does not have to read it. I think parents sometimes forget that we can do this!! My parents did it in school, and I wouldn't hesitate, either. I have put timers on for homework and shut screens off mid-sentence. If the assignment takes too long and your brain doesn't have enough time to rest before bed, then the assignment gets put on hold. Same with books, if it is not good for your brain or your mood, then don't read it.

Philippians 4:8-9

And now, brothers, as I close this letter, let me say this one more thing: Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about. Keep putting into practice all you learned from me and saw me doing, and the God of peace will be with you.
There are a couple books that I did not read in High School. Oh, I did the assignments and the teachers thought I read them, but I didn't read more than the first 5 or so pages and the last 5 pages because they were too much for me. One was Lord of the Flies. Later, once I became a teacher, I read the book The Giver. I hated it! This year my other son (13) had to read that. I wish I had had the conversation about the book with him before he read it. He could have had the option of reading something else. It really disturbed him and he said he wished he hadn't read it. It upset him while he was reading it and he had trouble sleeping. I didn't put it together until he had finished his book because a lot of the reading had happened at school. There are so many great books out there, that have a good message, in a positive setting, why not expose our young children to these instead.

From Google: Dystopian literature is a genre of fictional writing used to explore social and political structures in 'a dark, nightmare world.' The term dystopia is defined as a society characterized by poverty, squalor or oppression and the theme is most commonly used in science fiction and speculative fiction genres.

I say that there is plenty of time in a child's life for discovering the bad. Why escalate the rise of anxiety in our kids? Why feed them "a dark nightmare world" in literature when that is happening in parts of the world in real life, already. Books have the power to change you for the good, to transport you to a better place, to help you dream and to give you much hope. They have this power, but not all books use this power for good.

My oldest loved the book The Outsiders. He says he likes books that have a bit of suspense in them but that don't have such a far-fetched reality. I am going to explore some other novels for my teen boys to read. I think we are pretty much done with the dystopian phenomenon around here! (at least when it is what the majority of their assigned novels seem to be lately... and I realize that this is the curriculum, and often the teachers' hands are tied... but mine aren't!!).

Edit: Since posting this I have had the opportunity to have some discussions with other parents and teachers. Discussion is good! I have learned that this genre being introduced in MS is fairly new, and that it is typically a HS genre. I think that fits more and there is value in reading many different genres, but the kids have to be ready. From a parent's experience, kids' brains are not ready for this abstract thinking at 13 years old.  My boys (and I think they are pretty typical) are still mainly concrete thinkers at this age. This is not a put down to any teacher, it is a post about MY opinions and observations and I am talking about a specific genre and when it is appropriate for MY kids to read it. Each parent needs to do what is right for their own child. 

I would LOVE to know some suggestions from other parents of teen boys of good books for them to read.

Here's a link to try: Good Reads - Books for Teens