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25 February 2014 @ 09:38 am
Wordless  
Sunday's topic for the monthly #Titletalk was wordless picture books. Hundreds (probably thousands) of tweets flew by in the hour we were together. All sorts of ideas and activities and titles emerged. That is what I love about this chat, hosted by Colby Sharp and Donalyn Miller: everyone comes together and shares ideas, builds upon the ideas of others, piggybacks, lists, questions, etc. It is online PD at its interactive best. I was going to blog aout that topic today. But I think the better plan is to give you this link: http://titletalk.wikispaces.com/2014-2-23+Wordless+Picture+Books. This will take you to the archive of that chat. I have something else that has left me wordless, er, speechless.

This post: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/lynn-shepherd/jk-rowling-should-stop-writing_b_4829648.html entitled IF J.K. ROWLING CARES ABOUT WRITING, SHE SHOULD STOP DOING IT has left me gape-mouthed, slack-jawed, head-shking, and not a little ANGRY. When the second paragraph of your post is the following, perhaps you ought to start again at the beginning. "I didn't much mind Rowling when she was Pottering about. I've never read a word (or seen a minute) so I can't comment on whether the books were good, bad or indifferent. I did think it a shame that adults were reading them (rather than just reading them to their children, which is another thing altogether), mainly because there's so many other books out there that are surely more stimulating for grown-up minds. "

SO much is wrong here. Let's begin with the author's admission she has not read the Harry Potter books. That does not prevent her from decrying the fact that adults read them or are reading them. Nor does it keep her from commenting that they should be reading something a bit more stiumlating (50 Shades of Gray, perhaps?). And herein lies the fatal flaw at the heart of anyone who challenges books: I do not read them, but I can still assess them for you (especially as you seem to be unable to do so yourselves, poor souls, bless your hearts).

I see adults reading children's and YA books (witness last night's #Titletalk, right?). I love seeing this. I love the fact that the writing in juvenile lit is so rich that its audience is ever expanding. I love that picture books can have an adult audience. I love that YA attracts adults as well. I would never dismiss a book or genre or age range as somehow not appropriate. Yet our educational reformers have no such qualms. Look at the heavy emphasis on numbers: lexiles and levels and page counts. How different are they from the author of the HuffPo post? There is, at the heart, the essence of some sort of snobbishness. You can almost hear the contempt ozze as they refer to THOSE books. I have seen too often lately, this focus not on the fact that there are terrific pieces of literature being written for kids today but on the fact that the reading levels of "popular" (and we know that is a snobbish code word, right?) are so awfully low that it is no wonder our kdis are not college and career ready.

So, I wonder:

1. Does SILAS MARNER prepare a kid better for college and career than LOOKING FOR ALASKA?

2. Is 1984 or BRAVE NEW WORLD better than HUNGER GAMES or THE KNOFE OF NEVER LETTING GO at getting kids to consider dystopian literature?

3. Which better prepares kids for a career: HAMLET or SOMETHING ROTTEN (and which might they actually read and comprehend?)

OK, I am being facetious, I know. But I am so awfully tired of those who are critical of books without having really delved into the books themselves. Before they utter another word, they need to read some.
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