Sunday, January 11, 2009

Literature choices

Even as I begin typing, I can imagine some of the pain and displeasure this post will cause some of my fellow homeschool friends, but here I go...

When I was in college, the professors were completely child-centered in their philosophy... to the extent of making it impossible for a teacher to have a life and do everything they thought you should do in the classroom. For example, according to the interests of the student, the teacher should design a completely individual plan spanning across several subjects. So, some students might be reading and studying about horses while others are reading and learning about robots. Some might be snacking on pretzels (need to eat while learning), others might be hanging upside down on the couch in the reading nook, and others might be wearing large headphones for silence while others are wearing them with music.

I thought there were many great things about this... but I saw the joke of it all actually happening with a classroom of 30 children. Part of the appeal of homeschooling was that I might be able to do things like this with my own children.

Another thing that was harped on in college was, "get the kids reading, no matter what it takes!"

This was a little bit bigger of a pill for me to swallow... I just didn't know about all of those little series' books like Goosebumps and such... what happened to quality literature?

As we began homeschooling, I had read lots of books that convinced me I was right in not swallowing the "junk food literature" pill. Our first child learned to read with great ease and getting her to bury her nose in a book... a good quality book... was not a challenge.

THEN.... our next child, sweet Sarah, had a very difficult time learning to read. I think she has a mild case of dyslexia, and on top of that is not as academically motivated as her sister. After trying so many things to get her to enjoy reading independently (amidst many shed tears, frustrating moments, and much more), I saw Sarah sitting and laughing out loud, totally engaged in a book at the library one day.

We were with some homeschooling friends, and the little boy had showed her a book he was reading. She was reading over his shoulder... READING!!! This was progress!! I was dumbfounded, and ready to check out the book.... hey, I was ready to buy the whole set!

But there was a moment of crisis... The book? Way worse than Goosebumps... (I guess, I've never read them...)


Yep, you read it correctly. More specifically, it was Captain Underpants and the Bionic Booger Boy!

I had to weigh the good vs. evil... Good: Sarah was reading (did I mention this was MAJOR!)... Evil: Ok, judging from the title, you may probably surmise that it is a book solely based on potty humor... not exactly the dream of a classical educator

I finally caved in... Ok, so what really happened was I started reading it too and got so tickled that I agreed to let her check it out.

The result? It worked; she decided that reading wasn't so bad after all! (And, the Captain Underpants craze was relatively short-lived!)

I am still not a fan of junk literature, and I definitely require the kids to get their fill of good, quality reading. However, I have made allowances for light reading in free time.

Yesterday, Will begged to check out a Captain Underpants book at the library. Once again, I conceded. Yesterday afternoon, I got another treat. Will and Josh stayed together on the couch giggling for about an hour while Will sounded out the book, line by line. This time, it was not Captain Underpants and the Bionic Booger Boy... Oh, no... this time it was Captain Underpants and the Invasion of the Incredibly Naughty Cafeteria Ladies from Outer Space (and the Subsequent Assult of the Equally Evil Lunchroom Zombie Nerds).

Hey, at least the word "subsequent" is in the title!

Tonight, Will possibly broke his toe by getting it stuck in a treadmill. To make him feel better, he and Scott are snuggled up in a chair reading Captain Underpants together... I am not sure who is enjoying it more! :)

Never fear... Back to the Book of Romans and Adam of the Road tomorrow!


Anonymous said...

Hey, if weren't for Calvin and Hobbes, I don't know if Nathan would know how to read now. He sure wouldn't care anything about it. Chuck

Anonymous said...

Y'know, that 'junk literature' thing sounds good in theory (I'm full of theories. My current one states that my future children will not be allowed to watch movies made from great books until they've read the book.). But one Riley child got his start on Hank the Cowdog (your kids would probably love those too. He has now read all of the works of Shakespeare--in fact he's read some of the comedies aloud to a younger child. Take comfort; the 'junk' stage doesn't last forever :) .

Anita said...

This is a hard one for some of us homeschool parents. Jeff went through a stage where all he wanted them to read were biographies or autobiographies. But I use tons of historical fiction in our school, then what about the "classics", and Shakespear and....

OK, so we were at the library and my kids have tons of bios at home and just want some fun reading. I give them the ok and they checkout Hank the Cowdog, The Boxcar Children and Geronimo Stilton. At my house, even with bios, I have to take the books away from them. Good problem to have!!

Anonymous said...

Please, please, please don't let them tell my kids about this! I guess we're chronological snobs but we pretty much avoid contemporary childrens books. It was a HUGE stretch to read Hank the Cowdog ;o)

Heather Brandon said...

Hey Heather, have a similar story.
Hannah was like Sarah, so we cut her teeth on Garfield, Marmaduke, & Calvin & Hobbes. ANYTHING to get her to sit down & read a book. She hated reading before this. After a year or so on comics, she moved into the Chronicles Of Narnia.
Instead of Captain Underpants if you really don't like his termilogies, we found these little books, Farmer Brown's Barnyard, Duck for President, Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type, & Click, Clack, Quackity-Quack,
all by Doreen Cronin, absolutely HILARIOUS! As a matter of fact, I've found some new titles on ebay I've never read & I WANT to get them for MYSELF!

amy said...

How is that toe?? We have been thinking about Will today! And as far as JUNK lit, I personally do not care for it, but there are times that I am just glad they are reading something!?!?!

Nathan's blog said...

captain Underpants and the Bionic Booger Boy. That sounds weird....... Captain underpants to the rescue..........You will never defeat the bionic booger boy. And the other one comment.

Hannah said...

I never have liked reading, Still don't. Every now and then I will sit down (on my own...SHOCKER) and read a book. I mostly like Biographies. I also like mystery books...kinda...only if it keeps me curious on what might happen to so n' so next or something like that. Those kind of books keep me on the couch all day. But over all I like biographies. I think it's interesting to read about other people's life...unless I'm forced to read it, then I don't like it. To like it I have to read it on my own. The only book I was forced to read (because of school) that I really liked was Hiding Place. Love that book! It's actually my favorite.

Hannah Baggett