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Horror of horrors! or What are Kids reading?

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message 1: by Nathan (new)

Nathan (tenebrous) | 377 comments I recently found this on NPR's pop culture blog.

And a lot of the kids who like to read in their spare time are more likely to be reading the latest vampire novel than the classics, says Anita Silvey, author of 500 Great Books for Teens. Silvey teaches graduate students in a children's literature program, and at the beginning of the class, she asked her students — who grew up in the age of Harry Potter — about the books they like.
"Every single person in the class said, 'I don't like realism, I don't like historical fiction. What I like is fantasy, science fiction, horror and fairy tales.' "


I think civilization is in peril! We need to shut up and eat our vegetables.


message 2: by Kamil (new)

Kamil | 372 comments Nathan wrote: "I recently found this on NPR's pop culture blog.


And a lot of the kids who like to read in their spare time are more likely to be reading the latest vampire novel than the classics, says Anita ..."


It's a preilous moment, we are leaving but if we look at reality, it's quite cruel (Stubenville, do I need to say more?) and it's understandable why people would prefere fiction... if they wanted violence, injustice, cruelty and other delightfull stuff they would read A song of ice and fire


message 3: by Carolina (new)

Carolina Oh I read the same article today. On one side is nice to know they are reading, but it is sad to know that they are limiting themselves so much on what they could read. The problem is not that they only choose fiction, I mean The Odyssey is a classic, but is not non-fiction, the problem is that they are reading the same cookie-cutter type of fiction and consider absurd to go beyond their "safe zone".


message 4: by Janet (new)

Janet | 51 comments This article doesn't really make sense. Is it critiquing that schools are not making their coursework sufficiently challenging? Or are they lamenting the lack of intellectual challenge in what kids are reading on the side? I think the answer is "yes", and as usual doesn't offer any solutions or anything for this.

When I was a child, I read a ton. A pretty diverse mix of sci fi, fantasy, mystery, children's classics, and books about horses. As a teen, I probably read below my reading level because I simply didn't have the time to read as much between after school activities and homework, so I just read new releases from my favorite authors. Yes, I was 16 and still reading the Redwall series. Eventually after college I got back into reading and moved to the adult section, though now I still read mostly genre books. I don't think those years of not reading my potential destroyed my soul or whatever.

I think the fact that kids are reading at all is good. I also think forcing kids to read the classics in english class is important, but I think it's also nice if you can give kids a chance to select their own books as well. One of my favorite projects was independently reading Frankenstein, War of the Worlds, and 1984 for British literature in high school and presenting a short report on why those books were important. It's no Beowulf, but they still have literary merit and because i chose them, even if i hated them I could still take ownership of it.

Nothing will convince me reading Heart of Darkness was a good pick though, ugh.


message 5: by Kamil (new)

Kamil | 372 comments it's also important to ponder on the verb 'like' in the question; it's not about what they read but about what they like to read


message 6: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 314 comments Heart of Darkness is hard work.

Let me see I read Dracula, Frankenstein and Jekyll and Hyde, plus Phantom of the Opera and Wuthering Heights before 13. I also read books about animals, a bit of fantasy, ponies, all sorts.

We read a lot at school and a lot of the course work was DULL. I say let kids read what they like, at least the are reading. The classics don't suit everyone, especially not younger readers and those who are interested will read them anyway. Sure way to make someone hate a book - make them read it.


message 7: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 314 comments Kamil wrote: "it's also important to ponder on the verb 'like' in the question; it's not about what they read but about what they like to read"

Yes. I agree, getting people to read is never a bad thing.


message 8: by Carolina (new)

Carolina The problem the article is pointing out, at least in my opinion, is that in an urge to make the reading list more accessible and try to encourage kids to read more, the lists changed to be full of likeable books (as Kamil points out) pushing out more challenging ones. When all the books you are reading, independent of the amount of them, remain in the same category, is very rare that a person will feel the need or even a tiny itch to move away of what is comfortable and it ends up with people that will not read anything slightly challenging or different from what they've grown to like.
If all your life you have been eating lettuce and have never been introduce to a tomato, even if you see a tomato you will not be interested by it, let alone an eggplant. Sure, you will eat different types of lettuce, iceberg, roman, etc, but the fact remains that is lettuce...and now I'm hungry


message 9: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 314 comments I disagree, tastes change, especially between adolescense and adult hood. Can you tell me you read the same as you read 10 years ago? Heck my reading has broadened since I came to Goodreads and that was about a year ago.

Maybe that is just me;)


message 10: by Ariel (new)

Ariel Stirling | 80 comments I think it's easy to stick with reading what you already know you like. From my experience though, most people who really consider themselves "readers" do branch out from their comfort zones over time.
I have always preferred fantasy, but in high school I switched into romance and historical fiction., then as an adult I started in on more memoirs, comedies, and non-fiction. The only thing I studiously avoid in books is horror, and I'm just not a fan of mysteries at all.
My guess is that those college students prefer the light reading of fantasy and fiction for enjoyment because they're in COLLEGE, where they are forced to swallow entire textbooks nightly. But at least the fantasy books foster their enjoyment of reading and when they are no longer required to read non-fiction and classics on a regular basis they may begin reading those for enjoyment instead.


message 11: by Carolina (new)

Carolina I agree that tastes change, and it should. No I do not read the same things I read 10 years ago, although there are authors that I still come back to. What I think is a problem is when your taste remains stuck. Both Alexandra and Ariel are right that people who consider themselves readers branch out. I do not agree with making someone read against there will, but I believe they should be at least exposed to the possibility of certain books existing.
I see no problem with people in general liking more fiction than non-fiction (I am one of them) but I"m genuinely sad that my teen cousin only reads sugary fiction (Pretty Little liars for example) and when presented to anything else rapidly discards it because is "hard to read" "is too long", etc. I'm sure that most of the people in this book club are willing to reach further from their comfort zone, but again, I think the point of the article is not to be just happy with the amount people are reading but to check the quality of what they are reading


message 12: by Robert of Dale (new)

Robert of Dale (r_dale) | 185 comments Bah, it's just a bunch of hand wringing about nothing. The whole discussion about the reading habits of teens seems to be about justifying one's disapproval of the damned kids these days; Either it's about them not reading enough (or at all), or it's about them not reading the classics for fun instead. But I guarantee that in the days of yore, there were people worrying that teens weren't reading enough Plato or Aristotle or whatever was deemed the equivalent of their era's "classic" in the kids' spare time, opting instead for whatever crass popular fiction* was available in the day.

*What we call "The Classics" now.


message 13: by Carolina (new)

Carolina Robert of Dale wrote: "Bah, it's just a bunch of hand wringing about nothing. The whole discussion about the reading habits of teens seems to be about justifying one's disapproval of the damned kids these days; Either it..."

You might be right, certainly...I just hope the Twilight Saga and Pretty Little Liars doesn't become the classics of our era...


message 14: by Nathan (new)

Nathan (tenebrous) | 377 comments Robert of Dale wrote: "Bah, it's just a bunch of hand wringing about nothing. The whole discussion about the reading habits of teens seems to be about justifying one's disapproval of the damned kids these days; Either it..."

Now that you mention it, it reminds me of something. When the novel was coming into its own in Chinese literature (late 17th, early to mid 18th century) there were officals that wanted to ban them, espcially Dream of the Red Chamber because they felt people would read that, neglecting the Confucian Classics.


message 15: by Shaina (new)

Shaina (shainaeg) | 165 comments Part of my question, is whether more of these kids are reading than kids 10-20 years ago (kids who had similar access to TV and video games)? I also think that my generation and those younger (I turned 11, just like Harry, the year the first Harry Potter book came out) is the first for which Sci Fi and Fantasy are really mainstream picks.

I also think that the popularity of Harry Potter followed by Twilight and Hunger Games have gotten a lot of kids reading who really didn't like reading. I certainly knew kids who read school books and Harry Potter and that was it. If more kids are reading because of these popular books I think that's great, and maybe someday they'll branch out and maybe they won't, but they are reading.


message 16: by Julia (new)

Julia (dazerla) | 216 comments Robert of Dale wrote: "Bah, it's just a bunch of hand wringing about nothing. The whole discussion about the reading habits of teens seems to be about justifying one's disapproval of the damned kids these days; Either it..."

I agree, honestly, this reminds me of my English teacher in High School who didn't think that scifi/fantasy books had anything worthy to say. Looking back I wish I'd taken her challenge and had her read something along the lines of The Left Hand of Darkness.

The only thing new here is that it s blogged about and seen by the Internet instead of just her friends and colleagues. I think what is going on here is a disconnect between those who read books as English teachers or professors and those who are simply doing it for the pleasure of reading. At least some of the time.


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