Saturday, September 27, 2008

the good word

One of the things I see happening increasingly in schools is the use of what are called "Reading Logs." These are timecard-like thingies where kids are supposed to keep track of the daily reading they do at home.

I'm sure no kids ever cheat their way through these things.

Again, this is just one more of those things where kids are supposed to be learning how to be more effective readers on their own, away from the school. Because God knows, at school the teachers are too busy with having kids make macaroni dioramas and such.

As Mark Twain would say, Hello Central!

Kids are supposed to be learning in school. They shouldn't be learning school stuff at home. I'm a teacher and a father, too, and I am here to tell you that right now: let kids do kid stuff at home (because they're going to, anyway) and teach them at school. Do not expect them to learn anything at home unless you don't care about the end results.


That's how we got here, California.

Now fix it.

I'm going to end up today with a few words sent to me on this subject by my good friend, author Lewis Buzbee (Steinbeck's Ghost):

But you were wondering why don't teen boys read. Here's my answer, and a thorny one. Teen boys don't read because their fathers don't read. It's just a fact that it's mostly women who read and buy books--it's a feminine trait in our society. Men don't. Except for a few of us geeky types. But on the whole, men stop reading at a certain point, by which I mean, reading for pleasure. And if boys don't see their fathers reading, they won't read. No modeling.

It's a simple equation for reading--most of the time--if the parents read, the kids will read. Parents making kids read when they don't read is fruitless.

Well, that's one--rather depressing--take on it. From a bookseller's point of view.

So... I'm going to be calling out all guy writers to be the fathers of our reading and non-reading boys in the world. We can get them back to where they were, say, when I was a kid and, believe it or not, all my guy friends read, and we all talked about books, too, and shared them, passed them around when we were finished.

What do my kids (at home and at school, by the way) see me doing every day? Reading for pleasure. This week, I finished reading Andrew Davidson's The Gargoyle and Bill Konigsberg's Out of the Pocket... which reminds me, I've got to send Bill a note.

Even though I write YA fiction, I probably read more adult fiction than anything else. People who know me, online and otherwise, know that I don't like to give reviews of other writers' work, but I love to tell other authors directly what I think of their stuff. I'm not sure what's next up on the reading list for me.

Okay. This is day 34 of blogging every day for a month. October will be something new... just three days away.


-- A. S.