professornana (professornana) wrote,

Redefining Classics: The Right Way

Love this posting about what makes a book a classic. Food for thought. #11 should be everybody's definition.

This is just one of my responses to the CCS list os Exemplar Texts and to the convoluted three pronged approach to determining the appropriate placement of required reading. Honestly, we have to do math to determine suitability of book placement?

Since I have been in the business of teaching literature for children and YA readers for almost a quarter of a centry (how old am I?), I have been acutely aware of lists of classics. Often, they are simply the books that have been included on lists for decades (if not longer). Frequently, they are the same books my mother read in school and my kids and grandkids suffered through as well. Some books on lists of classics should have been weeded years ago and replaced with other titles, titles that still have much to offer to contemporary readers despite being published in the last 25 or 50 years. These new kids deserve a place at the grown up table having been relegated to the kids' table for many years.

Today, I responded to a comment on my original FB posting about Calvino's definitions of classics with the phrase "instant classic." As someone observed, instant does not always mean superior 9and often the converse is true). However, think of your experience reading Harry Potter. Were you not aware that you were reading a book that would become a classic? As I was discussing the books required in my children's literature class this morning, I was acutely aware that WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE is approaching its 50th birthday; A WRINKLE IN TIME holds up well for 50, too, right? So, whencan we count these as classics? Do we have to wait for a generation or 50 years to pass? Are there not books now that we know in our gut are classics, the new classics if we must use a label?

So, let's get the ball rolling. THE CHOCOLATE WAR is a classic (and it is only 40 years old). While I do not have a crystal ball, I can see this novel remaining vital and worthy and one "which constantly generates a pulviscular cloud of critical discourse around it, but which always shakes the particles off" to quote Calvino (and I intend to use the word "pulviscular" more often because I lurve it so).

Which books would YOU declare a classic?
Tags: classics
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