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Monday, March 05, 2007

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LiLi123

Tamara,
I disgree with you here. I believe that we should trust the kids' ability of judging such reading materials. For example, Rules is a good book to exposes a ugly, abusive, irresponsible mother role. If we never expose such part of life to them, unfortunately it is out there, they would expect red carpet and roses waiting for them in the future of their life. By the time they walk into the world, it will be a shock, then they may have to go through depression, despir, etc. However,I am definitely with you about the suicide issue, which might stir some proble. But other than that, I strongly suggest young kids learn more about real life from the indirect experience--reading.

Joe Fox

Tamara, I agree with you. There is a fine line for me as well. It really depends on how big the problems are in these "problem novels," and how they are treated. A book like Rules might be great for a victim of abuse, but far more than some other child might be willing or able to handle. (using Rules just as an example...because I somehow have avoided these problem books so far in book club) It really depends on the situation, age level etc. Violence is violence, having it written out in a book doesn't make it any less impacting.

Tamara Jolie

Yes, it is an issue of age-appropriateness. I would see no harm in a high school student reading just about anything. But a middle school student?

My daughter witnessed an incident of abuse at her friend's house last October, so believe me, I know that she will find ugliness in her life. She was shocked and upset, but responding to shock and upset is also a part of life. We can't anticipate everything. At age 10, how much will it "prepare" Mikayla (like Feinberg's son), to be writing about real world abuse victims that whose corpes appear to be happy that they are dead, since death was their only way of escaping the horrors of abuse?? Yikes.

Amanda

I think you raise an important point, Tamara. It isn't always easy to determine what is or isn't appropriate for young people, as it takes a rather crucial judgement call on our part as teachers (and certainly for parents). And certainly maturity levels aren't consistent among adolescents, so we can't even assume that something is "appropriate" for, let's say, a group of sophomores. And then again, if we think that appropriateness is a non-issue and that all students can benefit from examining the tough issues faced by "problem" novels, we will inevitably have to face parents, administrators, and colleagues that question or even challenge our inclusion of texts like these in our classrooms.

I still can't help but wonder how valuable some of these "problem" novels are. Do some of them rely so heavily on the tragedy/wow factor that some controversial issues inadvertently raise that they don't even need to be quality texts? Afterall, we are a society that thrives on Dr. Phil, Dr. Keith, and other questionable "doctors" who are hellbent on plastering people's problems on television. What are some of the best "problem" novels? The "problem novel" and the issues associated with it could have been a cool seminar topic!

Amanda

I think you raise an important point, Tamara. It isn't always easy to determine what is or isn't appropriate for young people, as it takes a rather crucial judgement call on our part as teachers (and certainly for parents). And certainly maturity levels aren't consistent among adolescents, so we can't even assume that something is "appropriate" for, let's say, a group of sophomores. And then again, if we think that appropriateness is a non-issue and that all students can benefit from examining the tough issues faced by "problem" novels, we will inevitably have to face parents, administrators, and colleagues that question or even challenge our inclusion of texts like these in our classrooms.

I still can't help but wonder how valuable some of these "problem" novels are. Do some of them rely so heavily on the tragedy/wow factor that some controversial issues inadvertently raise that they don't even need to be quality texts? Afterall, we are a society that thrives on Dr. Phil, Dr. Keith, and other questionable "doctors" who are hellbent on plastering people's problems on television. What are some of the best "problem" novels? The "problem novel" and the issues associated with it could have been a cool seminar topic!

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