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Old 06-13-2013, 11:49 AM   #1
John F
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"What Kids Are Reading, In School And Out"

Heard this on NPR the other day:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/2...school-and-out
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Old 06-13-2013, 12:24 PM   #2
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No surprise. Most of the middle schoolers where I work are still on a first or second grade reading level. Some of them have even lower comprehension- to the point where they can read a passage out loud and then have no idea of what they just read.

Trouble is, that's exactly how most parents like it. Their precious little runts don't have to do any work, and get passing grades just for not demolishing the classroom or murdering the teacher. When the kids don't pass a fairly simple reading test, they demand the principal fire the teacher instead of asking if there's anything they can do to help the kid pass.

20 years before H. Beam Piper's Neobarbarians are rampaging around.
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Old 06-13-2013, 12:25 PM   #3
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Very good article, and I'm inclined to agree with most of it.

Last edited by mattcurtis; 06-13-2013 at 12:50 PM.
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Old 06-13-2013, 12:35 PM   #4
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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.
Yes, they read what's popular, just like they always have.

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"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.' "
One is shocked, simply shocked.
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Old 06-13-2013, 12:45 PM   #5
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Yes, they read what's popular, just like they always have.



One is shocked, simply shocked.
Doesn't change the fact that that needs to improve?
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Old 06-13-2013, 01:04 PM   #6
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Doesn't change the fact that that needs to improve?
It is asking quite a lot to get people - teenagers or adults - to stop reading what is popular and instead read what is not.
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Old 06-13-2013, 01:05 PM   #7
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I think the Reading has lost most of the luster it had (has been going downhill for at least 100 years). It is now to the point where instead of learning the three Rs in school, it will be reduced to just two.
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Old 06-13-2013, 01:15 PM   #8
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I don't think reading ever really had luster. The 'bookworm' character has always been an object of derision - even in books. People have always read the popular books, it's just that the popularity of many of these books faded into obscurity. Most of the books in the grocery store are popular, but will be forgotten before too long.
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Old 06-13-2013, 01:25 PM   #9
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Gotta read this; it has "monkey" in the link
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Old 06-13-2013, 01:37 PM   #10
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I agree. Back in the day when I was a kid, I know that I was labeled (derogatorily) a bookworm because I loved to read. I think that any of the "classics" that I did read, prior to high school, were all on my own. I suppose I was lucky in that the branch library that I got most of my books from didn't have separate rooms for the childrens' and adults' sections - the adult section was just at the back of the huge room, so I was able to freely wander into it and look at the books available. Because I was such an avid reader, the librarians there knew me and let me take out adult fiction on a kid's library card. My parents always encouraged me to read so I never got any grief from them, and they were always willing to fund my paperback book addiction.
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Old 06-13-2013, 01:42 PM   #11
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Kids have to read what they are told to read in school. Some of us resented it when it happened to be something that we didn't like. But I think that what kids choose to read outside of school should be completely up to them. It is a parent's responsibility to make sure the good stuff is accessible, but freedom of choice will prevent kids from turning to alternate entertainment sources, such as the tube.

I can't see it as being a bad thing that children chose to read The Hunger Games. Is "reading level" the sole determinant of the quality of a book? I read The Hunger Games as an adult. Am I doing great injustice to my intelligence to read a Grade Five level novel?
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Old 06-13-2013, 01:56 PM   #12
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Kinda sad that they're lowering the comprehension level.

I hated reading what was assigned to me when I was in high school. Works from Steinbeck, Hemingway, and Maugham were extremely boring. I would've preferred older classics from the 19th century and back.

I'll take the Harvard Classics any day
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Old 06-13-2013, 02:10 PM   #13
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Argh!

Some of their points are valid, but there are also so many things that are wrong with an article like this one. Take the comparison to literacy levels of high school students 100 years ago: it's not a valid comparison because a lot of people would not obtain an elementary school education, never mind a high school education. Literacy rates were much lower and I'm guessing that the level of literacy was much lower even after you excluded the functionally illiterate. We don't let struggling students drop out like that these days, so they are going to distort the statistics.

The other thing is that people read for different reasons: entertainment, information, interpretation, and likely other reasons. The literary types tend to be heavy on interpretation, which is fine. It's what they do. It's valuable. I'm not going to criticize them for that. Throw a journal article at them, at least one from mathematics or any of the sciences, and they would be illiterate. They would be like that kid who could sound out the words. Heck, they may even be able to read out equations in a recognizable way. But ask them what it means, and they'll have even less comprehension that that child they were criticizing. Almost the same thing can be said for genre literature. Ask that literary type to interpret genre literature, and they may as well answer in one word: trash. Yet their criticism is largely a product of their lack of understanding. For example: science fiction writers explore different themes and use literary devices in different ways, but that doesn't make the writing any less valid. Yet the people praising literature seem to feel that their niches are more important simply because they can understand it.

Yes, literacy levels are important. On the other hand, throwing a middle schooler a reading assessment test and stating what their reading level is based upon the result is misleading at best. Most of those assessments will produce very misleading results because they are targeting reading skills that a particular student may not have, while ignoring reading skills that they do have. It may show that a youth has a low vocabulary because it's looking at words found in traditional fictional writing, while ignoring words found in science (non-fiction) or fantasy. Children who read a lot of science books will probably be able to read better in the passive voice than the active voice, the latter being more commonly used in english courses, so of course they will appear to be failing when given the test. Of course the tests can indicate general issues in literacy, but how many of those issues arise because the tests are saying that the students lack the literacy skills that are being tested for and teachers are foisting inappropriate materials upon the students (thus encouraging them to tune out)?
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Old 06-13-2013, 03:47 PM   #14
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I hated reading what was assigned to me when I was in high school. Works from Steinbeck, Hemingway, and Maugham were extremely boring. I would've preferred older classics from the 19th century and back.
Sinclair Lewis' "Main Street" made me want to poke my eyes out when I had to read it in high school. That is one of the few books that I've ever attempted to read that just bored me to tears right from the first chapter, and one in which I had no liking for any of the characters.

Never did actually finish the thing. For my report on it I bought the Cliffs Notes version, skimmed that, read the first and a middle chapters of the book and pulled out all of my report quotes from that. I aced the report.
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Old 06-13-2013, 05:19 PM   #15
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"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.' "
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One is shocked, simply shocked.
As a sci-fi fan, I'm kinda happy. Seemed like the whole genre was dying until recently. I'm hoping the Hunger Games gave it the same kind of surge that fantasy did from Harry Potter.

Also, if these are the same kids that I see at work, then some of their wanting escapism is because reality is pretty bleak.
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