Monday, July 25, 2011

I Am Not Into Fantasy

I haven't read the Twilight Series. [GASP!] I know, I know. I must be in the minority of the Female Population, especially the Female Mormon Population. That being said, I haven't ever read any of the Harry Potter books either. I haven't watched any of the movies for either as well.

When my oldest was in third grade, the teacher was a Harry Potter fan and really pushed the kids to get into the books. I got him the first 2. I tried to read them to him and with him. I couldn't hardly get through the first chapter without wanting to gouge my eyes out. It's not that the writing was bad; it wasn't. It's just that I do not particularly care for Fantasy books. Once my mother decided to read "The Hobbit" to us. I recall the seven of us children sprawled out on the living room floor with our blankets and pillows and her reading. I remember that while the other kids seemed mesmerized by the story all I could wonder was when we'd be allowed to get up and go play.

I am not a "hater". Just because others like something I don't, I don't go around poo-pooing their book/movie choices. (Incidentally, it bothers me when people do that about food. If I say I like something and someone else says "Eww! Gross!" that bugs. I don't go crappin' all over their food.) I remember my mother teaching us that the proper thing to say is "I don't really care for that" instead. Such a good Mommy. Ok - back to the point. If you like or even love Fantasy, especially the books I've mentioned, I don't think you're weird or anything like that. I realize we all have different tastes.

That being said, what I do not understand is why the SCHOOLS don't seem to get that. I understand the whole encouraging kids to read. I think it's great. What I really don't care for, however, is that there are approved reading lists from which the books are chosen. I get it, that the lists are there so kids will read something age-appropriate and even a bit challenging and not just take the easy way out and read below their age level. I mean, just about any 5th grader can read a 100 picture books in a week, right? Haha. However - here is the problem I have with the reading lists. They don't include enough of the books my kids enjoy reading.

We are a family of humor, or cynicism, irony, sarcasm, witticism, etc. There should be more books like that in the school library or on the "approved reading" lists. The choices on the list for the upper grades usually tend to be the Fantasy, sci-fi or non-fiction works. I remember having the same issue when I was in high school -- finding a book (from the list) that could keep my attention long enough so I could write a book report on it. I guess that was when I sort of stopped reading for fun.

I spoke to the librarian at my kids' school and she told me that if I wanted to donate any books, she would gladly accept them and buy the tests for them. Well, I did donate one or two, but I am not made of money. My daughter had a teacher at the time who used to hand out a blank calendar at the beginning of each month. On it they had to write each day how long they read. She did not put an emphasis on WHAT they were reading. She explained to the parents in the beginning of the year that as long as they were reading, she would count it. "If reading becomes too much of a chore, kids won't do it," she explained. She said she expected a minimum of 15 minutes a day and at the end of the month for each completed calendar they turned in they got a $6 Barnes & Noble gift card. How cool is that? Not that I expect every teacher to buy and hand out gift cards, but the whole concept of reading to ENJOY it was cool! Needless to say, my daughter read so much that she'd often earn 2 gift cards per month. The past few years my daughter has struggled to meet her "reading goals" because once again, she has to read off the list and many of the books do not hold her attention.

Anyway -- through all of that rambling, there was a point in there somewhere; I promise. To end this little rant of mine, I am going to share some of the books my kids and I have had at the top of our list.

When the first book came out, I saw a review for it and just knew LittleDuckling would love it. He was in 5th or 6th grade at the time. He read it in just a few hours and asked for more. Luckily, Jeff Kinney cranked a few more out, and another is still on the way. PrettyPrettyPrincess enjoys these too. Even though LittleDuckling is a little bit old for these anymore, he still enjoyed the movie and will still thumb through the books from time to time.
When my oldest was in 6th grade, he hated nearly every book on the "Approved Reading" list. He loved the book "Holes" so much I thought he might like "Dogs Don't Tell Jokes" too. He was an instant Louis Sachar fan and my daughter read Sachar's "Wayside School" books when she was in 3rd grade and loved it.
I don't know if Feiffer has any other books out, but this was one that FunnyMan loved when he was in 6th grade as well. He loved it so much that we bought an extra copy to put in our school's library.
Although we generally don't read a lot of fantasy, I bought the first book in the Vladimir Tod series for FunnyMan when he was in 8th grade, because I thought he'd enjoy the sarcasm in it. Heather Brewer's series include "Eighth Grade Bites", "Ninth Grade Slays", "Tenth Grade Bleeds", "Eleventh Grade Burns" and finally "Twelfth Grade Kills". I think he outgrew the series by his Sophomore year, but PrettyPrettyPrincess picked them up when she started 5th grade and begged for the final installment when it came out last Fall.
This final author is one of my favorites. David Sedaris. (Many of you may know his sister, actor & comedian Amy Sedaris.) Well, they are both writers. David is witty and clever and I especially love when he sneaks in little memoirs of his childhood. I told FunnyMan it was time for him to start reading Sedaris too.

When I am in the mood for a romance novel, Nicholas Sparks is my little indulgence. Mostly because there is usually a twist to his stories and it isn't "smut" romance. Another book recommendation would be "The Help". If you missed my review you can find it {{HERE}}

My next read is "The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance. A Memoir" by Elna Baker. I'll let you know how it goes.

What sort of books do you love or not love? What's next on your summer list of reading?


Cassie the Sassie Lassie said...

I think part of the reason that elementary schools (in particular) push that fantasy stuff is for the kids to expand their imagination, however I see your side, too. I LOVED the hp series. HATED twilight. kristen stewart cannot act worth BEANS!! Plus, she's a little potty/sailor mouth. (from what I've heard of other fellow actors)

Unforunately, what happens with some of these people is the fame: they get greedy, which is what happened to JK and Stephanie (can you blame them? No, I guess not). But a little bit of control would be nice. Nic sparks is okay: my fave is his 'The Last Song', even though it was practically written for miley cyrus... what a brat.

S Club Mama said...

I love Twilight, I loved the Harry Potter movies, need to read the books, loved The Hunger Games trilogy (not sci-fi ... maybe fantasy but it's not unrealistic. There are only people in it; check it out seriously good). Loved The Help (can't wait for the movie). I read a lot of Christian fiction, too.

KiennaP said...

Yeah, I am not a fantasy person. (Thought The Vladimir Tod series I LOVED because of the humor, and the deep and dark secrets in it and all) I don't like Harry Potter, I tried reading the first book for a report, but I wasn't able to finish it. I can't stand the fantasy. I don't like Fable Haven, or leven thumps or anything of those sorts. I like to stick to the whole Fiction and Non-fiction books. But I hate the fact that we have to take AR tests. I hate those things. And I am a slow reader. The kids in my class just read the words and memorize like that. I have to read it in my mind as I were to out loud. With all of the pauses and stuff.

Puphigirl said...

I have not read any of the Harry Potter and have only seen some of the movies peripherally on tv.

I do like Sci-Fi. I love mystery too. Some of my favorite authors are Orson Scott Card, Mary Higgins Clark, Alexander McCall Smith (I think I just like authors with 3 names) Lois Lowry, Lois Duncan, Madeline L'Engle, Jack Weyland, Jan Karon, and Gary Paulsen. I've read just about every book they've written.

I seem to pick an author, read their books and series and move on to another author frequently checking back to see if the old faves have anything new out.

For book club I've loved The Help, The Thirteenth Tale, and Prayers for Sale.

okeydokeyifine said...

I DO NOT enjoy reading. That being said, I do understand the importance of it,and even the enjoyment others receive from reading. I HAD to read a book in school and happened upon a comedy entitled A SENSE OF MAGIC. It made me literally laugh out loud. I was shushed because I was in home room and we were supposed to be quiet. As an adult, I reread it and still enjoyed it. It would be a book I would purchase, were it available. I also love Beverly Cleary books. I read those to the children and enjoyed them myself.
So Kudos to you readers out there!

Ruthykins said...

well, I love reading. I love the Twilight books and am reading them again right now. When I was in school we read a few fantasy books, but I remember some other ones that were about regular kids. Peppermints in the Parlor was one of my favorites. I also liked The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. In high school I loved To Kill a Mockingbird. As an adult I've found many mystery or spy novels that I've really enjoyed, all realistic. I like realism, romance, mystery, intrigue, sci-fi, and adventure, but my favorite is fantasy.

Amy said...

for the love of everything good and yummy and wonderful in the world............please read the twilight books!!!! you'll love really there that good!!!