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24 October 2012 @ 08:50 am
firing the canon  
I spent a few hours yesterday reading my friend Joan Kindig's new professional book from Stenhouse (www.stenhouse.com) entitled CHOOSING TO READ.  Here is the cover:

kindig

I will talk about the book later in a separate blog post on my Blogger site (www.ls5385blog.blogspot.com) but one sentence hit me immediately.  Joan included a definition of the word canon in her introduction to the book thusly, "an officially recognized set of sacred books."  Wow, those books on the literary canon are sacred?  To whom, I wondered.  Not to me.  Not to kids.  I suspect they are sacred to a few who have not read much written since the old dead white men canon wedged itself into the ELA curriculum.  So, here is what I propose:  let us all in our classrooms and schools and districts and libraries compile a list of contemporary books we find to be sacred and create our own literary canon. 

Here are a few sacred books I would add:

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE
THE WATSONS GO TO BIRMINGHAM, 1963
DOGSONG


Actually, I do not want to create a canon.  To me, canons are exclusive.  It is tough for new books to enter and there seems to be NO way that some books can be eliminated either. Go back and look at the past winners of an award that has been around for a long time such as the Newbery.  Take a look at the winners and honor books from the 20s and 30s and 40s and even later and see how many of those books still speak to kids today.  So, maybe not a canon.  But I do make a list each and every semester of sacred books I will require my students to read in children's and YA lit classes. My canon changes; some books stay and others remain.  Another canon? My list of best books that I keep each year and share in workshops.  I am certain that if I go back 10 years there will be books that have gone out of print or books I might not even recall too much about.  That canon shifts as well.

The one canon I fear (besides the literature textbook one)?  The CCSS Exemplar texts.  I fear that, too, will become a canon.  You should, too.
 
 
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RebelLibrarian: READ Iconrebellibrarian on October 24th, 2012 03:34 pm (UTC)
Hm. I always think of canon in terms of comics and book series where there's a lot of unofficial stories floating about.

It comes up in my geeky world with things like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and Star Wars stories. No matter how wildly popular a story may be it has to be part of the officially recognized set of books/movies/tv shows - and that set is considered sacred to those fans.

The one I'm having an interesting time watching has to do with the My Little Pony universe. There's a character in a recent version of the show that appears to have crossed eyes, and fans have been calling her "Derpy Hooves" or "Herp Derp." The problem is that in some people's opinion that's an insult along the lines of the R word and a lot of old school pony fans are terribly insulted at this change in the character.

There's even a good possibility that the crossed eyes were a mistake in animation that the fans have jumped on... and this is where it connects to canon - if the initial character did not have crossed eyes, why should it continue to be shown that way, especially if it's insulting to those with developmental disabilities. I have one friend who is even repainting the eyes on the memorabilia she buys with this character.

I don't think I've ever seen individual books being grouped into a canon the way you have here.

Edited at 2012-10-24 03:42 pm (UTC)
Ana Maria PerezAna Maria Perez on October 24th, 2012 06:13 pm (UTC)
Very well said, Dr. L. I look for your lists each semster, to guide me in my book selections for the library!