professornana (professornana) wrote,
professornana
professornana

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Critical "I"

How is this for a headline: Against Walter Dean Myers and the dumbing down of literature: 'Those kids' can read Homer? Who is the author? The same person who wrote an op-ed piece about "balanced literacy" this week for the same New York Times. This article coms from 2 hers ago: http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/pageviews/walter-dean-myers-dumbing-literature-kids-read-homer-blog-entry-1.1637371. I have seen this argument against contemporary literature before, many times before. YA literature is a dumbing down of literature. It cannot possibly measure up to classic literature, right?

Nazaryan is critical of Myers and his works. He also says in the opening line that he knows Myers because his kids read Myers' books. I am still trying to figure out whether Nazaryan actually met Myers or if he is assuming he knew Myers because he read his book. If we had met Myers, I have to hope that his tone might be more respectful. It should be reverential. If anyone has read any of the tributes that have poured out since Myers' death, perhaps Mr. Nazaryan would be over to perhaps read some more of Myers' work and perhaps, dare I say, read it more critically? If he were to deign to do so, he might see the complexity, the demand, the depth is indeed there. Moreover, it is present in a way that makes it accessible to contemporary readers.

This quote is particularly galling, "Myers’ books on the other hand, are painfully mundane, with simple moral lessons built into predictable situations: the projects, prison, redemption."

Nazaryan goes inn to talk about the power of words. However, the only words that seem to count have to originate with Virgil and the "classics." The cannot come from a contemporary author as those words do not elevate (his words not mine). I find this condescending at best. Any author can wield power with words. Myers wielded considerable power in MONSTER and FALLEN ANGELS and PATROL and so many other books. So do those authors who came along because f Myers such as Christopher Paul Curtis.

I think the world of literature, not just YA or children's literature, would be somehow worse were it not for Myers and his books. Read JAZZ (and give the audiobook a listen). Read aloud the prologue to MONSTER. Check out SCORPIONS. Here is an author who knew the value of books and reading. To dismiss his work as that stuff that does not elevate the reader is WRONG, DEAD WRONG.
Tags: dismissive, patronizing
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