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Old 07-16-2007, 08:04 PM   #1
sea2stars
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Harry Potter and the Death of Reading

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... predicts that the seventh and (supposedly) final volume, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," may be read by more adults than children.

I started to read for pleasure more towards the end of high school. I have yet to read any of the Potter books. Hrm... I think I'd much rather start over the Thomas Covenant series, to gear myself up for the newest book in that series.
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Old 07-17-2007, 04:21 AM   #2
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... predicts that the seventh and (supposedly) final volume, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," may be read by more adults than children.
Of course many of the teenagers who read the first book will be adults now!

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I started to read for pleasure more towards the end of high school. I have yet to read any of the Potter books
Your loss. They are fun to read. Not "great literature", but highly entertaining to read, and that's what it's all about, IMHO!
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Old 07-17-2007, 09:16 AM   #3
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Right Harry!
In this last episode Potter is a young adult and so are the readers who have followed him since.

As you say it is not great litterature but the writing is decent enough to give children a good view of what quality should be. So it is to someone who is learning English as I am.

What I like most of this series is that this author is treating kids as adults by not lowering her writing to a more accessible kind. Children have to work to understand by looking words up. It is no wonder teachers use these books in class as a learning tool. The infatuation towards this story is a much better way to keep kids interested in reading than forcing Shakespeare on them. How many adults have been forced this way never to read again?
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Old 07-17-2007, 11:05 AM   #4
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The books kids are made to read in school are so dreadfully dry and boring and to add insult to injury, the way they are taught make the kids dislike the books even if they might have enjoyed them otherwise. So what scools are doing is forcing kids to read books they don't enjoy. That can have the detrimental effect of turning them off to books.

In my case, before I got that far, I was already reading books I enjoyed. So I was able to keep doing so. But kids who get their first real experience with books from school tend to be turned off to reading. They find it dull and a chore because they dislike the books and the way the teacher makes them learn. I mean really, is memorizing "To be or not to be" really going to make kids want to read more? It's going to make them hate learning about Hamlet and take away what might be a passion for reading.

Teachers need to learn how to teach without turning off most kids to reading.
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Old 07-17-2007, 03:09 PM   #5
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I haven't read the Potter books but my wife has and she says as the series has gone on the later books have gotten more dark and violent and moved away from "kids books" like the first couple were.
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Old 07-17-2007, 03:21 PM   #6
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Rowling has gotten some pretty angry letters from parents ever since the 4th book, and has steadily refused to change her story from what she originally planned, even if it means the later books are not regarded as "children's" books. I respect that. There were some interesting interviews with her when Goblet of Fire came out. I think her daughter Jessica was eight at the time. Rowling was asked if her daughter would be reading the book. She answered yes, but that she planned to read the chapter in which a student dies (the most controversial) to her daughter, rather than letting her read it alone.

I like the books, though I certainly agree that there are other better written books out there. These books have encouraged many kids to read, and the nice thing is that I also see some changes taking place in the schools. My younger daughter's Language Arts teacher had quotes from the Harry Potter books in posters on her wall. The books both of my kids have been assigned to read at school have generally been fairly contemporary and relevant, and they've even enjoyed many of them (well, as much as my older daughter enjoys reading at all-- it's still a lot of work for her, since English is her second language). As the kids have gotten older, teachers have been able to introduce "classics" by relating them to contemporary works, in many cases. (Ok, I haven't actually heard of a teacher comparing Hamlet to Anakin Skywalker, but I bet someone is doing it.) All good, as far as I'm concerned.
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Old 07-17-2007, 03:46 PM   #7
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... the chapter in which a student dies (the most controversial) ....
That reminds me of some of the furor over Bridge to Terabithia.

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Ok, I haven't actually heard of a teacher comparing Hamlet to Anakin Skywalker, but I bet someone is doing it.
I don't think Hamlet ... main character in the 'Scottish Play', perhaps, but Hamlet I don't see.

I think this makes much better sense as an approach to reading, spend the first part of their school years getting them interested in reading, possibly through Junior High, but I'd think at least through 6th grade. Choose books that they want to read and will enjoy, then slowly teach them how to read them beyond the simple enjoyment phase, then by High School, they'll be in a better position to face the harder stuff, and they'll likely already have an enjoyment of reading.

But under no circumstances should 9th graders be made to read Lord of the Flies.
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Old 07-17-2007, 07:29 PM   #8
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Hrm.. now that I know that the Potter series actually evolves into something more, maybe I'll give it a go. Heh. After the I reread the Covenant series, the books on my floor and the books on my eb1150.

How about The Catcher in the Rye? I think I read that around 9th grade and it'll always be a favorite.
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Old 07-17-2007, 08:12 PM   #9
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I read Lord of the Flies in 7th grade, I think. But now I can't remember if it was a school assignment. I think so. I remember that I didn't "enjoy" it, but I did find it interesting.

Well, I almost compared the main character of Scottish play to Anakin, but I thought the prince of Denmark losing it after his father's death wasn't that far off. Probably Macbeth is a better choice, though.

But I liked Shakespeare pretty well, even as a kid. Possibly the assigned book I liked least was Kurt Vonnegut's Player Piano. That beat Moby Dick and even Death of a Salesman. I thought it had lots of interesting ideas, but it was just too down-beat for me. I wrote a paper contrasting it with Harlan Ellison's "Repent, Harlequin, said the Tick-Tock Man." I got an A. It helped that my English teacher at the time was well aware of who Harlan Ellison was.
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Old 07-17-2007, 10:18 PM   #10
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But I liked Shakespeare pretty well, even as a kid. Possibly the assigned book I liked least was Kurt Vonnegut's Player Piano. That beat Moby Dick and even Death of a Salesman. I thought it had lots of interesting ideas, but it was just too down-beat for me. I wrote a paper contrasting it with Harlan Ellison's "Repent, Harlequin, said the Tick-Tock Man." I got an A. It helped that my English teacher at the time was well aware of who Harlan Ellison was.
Ah, Neko. You are young enough to remember what you read in school! Did you read Shakespeare in English or in translation? Many of my Chinese friends here enjoy S in Chinese. I find his English murkly and laborious.
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Old 07-17-2007, 11:07 PM   #11
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I read Lord of the Flies in 7th grade, I think. But now I can't remember if it was a school assignment. I think so. I remember that I didn't "enjoy" it, but I did find it interesting.
My primary objection to it was that we were messed up enough in 9th grade without that thing. I may actually have been able to handle it better in 7th than 9th.

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Well, I almost compared the main character of Scottish play to Anakin, but I thought the prince of Denmark losing it after his father's death wasn't that far off. Probably ******* is a better choice, though.
Speak not the name!

I can see a bit of the comparison, to Hamlet, but not enough to give it much weight without some serious supporting arguments.

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But I liked Shakespeare pretty well, even as a kid. Possibly the assigned book I liked least was Kurt Vonnegut's Player Piano. That beat Moby Dick and even Death of a Salesman. I thought it had lots of interesting ideas, but it was just too down-beat for me. I wrote a paper contrasting it with Harlan Ellison's "Repent, Harlequin, said the Tick-Tock Man." I got an A. It helped that my English teacher at the time was well aware of who Harlan Ellison was.
This is hysterical! My wife (who -- for those who may not know -- is finishing up her PhD in Victorian Lit.) and I were discussing this discussion at dinner, and she said things that are very similar to what you're saying, nekokami (just swap the book titles ...) -- Academics! I shall tell you something close to what I told her: Yup, I can see that, but you probably weren't representative of your age group at the time. I wasn't either for that matter, I spend a lot of 6th grade reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's collected works.
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Old 07-18-2007, 04:57 AM   #12
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There is this rule in the education system here that force highschoolers to read 25 literature books (in the country's language of course) in order to graduate. And those books that are listed as literature are mostly boring psychotic postwar books written by depressed authors.
Right... that's the way to encourage kids to read. I have not read a single book in this language since then.
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Old 07-18-2007, 08:25 AM   #13
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@mogui, it was more than half my life ago. But I make it a point to remember what I've read.

@NatCH, I think you're right about 9th grade being a worse time to read LOTF than 7th. Sorry about typing "the name"... didn't think that was the same as speaking it. (And I've been reading too much Harry Potter lately... I bet Dumbledore would say the name out loud!)

I was not typical as a young reader (and still am not, for that matter). But my kids like Romeo and Juliet just fine. I think it helps a lot to see the plays performed first. In the case of R&J, we also took them to see West Side Story first, and then when they saw R&J, explained that they would probably see some similarities, because WSS had been somewhat based on R&J. It helped make things more relevant to them. My older daughter, aged 16, who only spoke Mandarin until she was 11, easily followed the plot despite the archaic language and cried at the end. (Then my mom had her watch an opera of R&J... my mom is an opera fiend. I understand that went fairly well, too.)

Actually, now that I think about it, possibly part of the reason I enjoyed Shakespeare early on was because my mom had a book called Twisted Tales from Shakespeare that was just amazingly funny and made me want to read the actual plays. I brought it in to school when we were all reading R&J and my English teacher read that entry out loud to the whole class. It was fairly popular all around.
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Old 07-18-2007, 08:41 AM   #14
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btw. the book has now been leaked completely
http://www.theage.com.au/news/web/ne...559825094.html

I've managed to get those pictures too, but I think i'll just skip it for now and really make use of my reader when it's out.
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Old 07-18-2007, 09:21 AM   #15
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Sorry about typing "the name"... didn't think that was the same as speaking it. (And I've been reading too much Harry Potter lately... I bet Dumbledore would say the name out loud!)
Yeah he would, but that's Dumbledore, innit? I'm not enough of a theater geek to really buy into the "curse on the play" thing, but I've picked up the habit of not saying it from ... actually, I don't really remember where. And with H.P. in the discussion, the intersection point just screamed out at me.

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I was not typical as a young reader (and still am not, for that matter). But my kids like Romeo and Juliet just fine. I think it helps a lot to see the plays performed first. In the case of R&J, we also took them to see West Side Story first, and then when they saw R&J, explained that they would probably see some similarities, because WSS had been somewhat based on R&J. It helped make things more relevant to them. My older daughter, aged 16, who only spoke Mandarin until she was 11, easily followed the plot despite the archaic language and cried at the end. (Then my mom had her watch an opera of R&J... my mom is an opera fiend. I understand that went fairly well, too.)

Actually, now that I think about it, possibly part of the reason I enjoyed Shakespeare early on was because my mom had a book called Twisted Tales from Shakespeare that was just amazingly funny and made me want to read the actual plays. I brought it in to school when we were all reading R&J and my English teacher read that entry out loud to the whole class. It was fairly popular all around.
You've just described what I think would be an excellent approach to introducing kids to such things, nekokami. At the very minimum, it would be nice to mix up, what did athlonkmf call them? "boring psychotic postwar books written by depressed authors." Quite right, let's mix some non-boring, non-psychotic (they can be post war, that's okay) into the list, so that kids don't get the idea that all literature must fit that description.

My old definition of "classic" was "something that keeps coming back, no matter how bad it is" -- I believe I was thinking mainly of Hemingway, who definitely fits the psychotic, postwar and depressed, though others may disagree on the boring. There's no accounting for taste, after all.
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