Sunday, May 25, 2008

Reading To Impress

Many people read, but less than many actually read because they enjoy it. There are elitists out there, those that read to impress, and I'm not down with those people. Yes, I've tried to read a few of 'their' books, but by and large, it hasn't been a positive experience.

In 2007, the Library and Information Update did a survey and found that half of their respondents said that reading classics made one appear more intelligent, and that's why they did it. Also, more than half of the young adults, age 19-21, lied when asked to name their favorite books. The favorite books of read to impress name droppers were:

Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien
War and Peace – Tolstoy
Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus – John Gray
1984 – George Orwell
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling
Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
The Diary of Anne Frank

That's not to say that all of these books, or any of them, are bad. It just goes to show what the common thought is on what intelligent literature is. Lord of the Rings is one of my favorite stories of all time. 1984 has consistently rated among my favorite books ever, and of course, children the world over love Harry Potter. I've also read The Da Vinci Code and loved it, and I read portions of The Diary of Anne Frank to my students every year.

The point here is that if reading becomes seen as nothing more than a task someone undertakes in order to appear smart, then it is done in vain, and serves no purpose beyond appearance, much like getting plastic surgery or something like that. As teachers and/or literary theorists, it is our job to make reading real to kids, to help them find the true value in reading, and to enjoy the process.

Please take a look at the reading survey that is tied to this post, and my personal response. I have also provided a link to the survey itself in .pdf format on that post. CLICK HERE to go to that post, which also happens to be the post immediately prior to this one.


Gregg P said...

Some of the most classic book that I have found for youth include...

The Giver by Lois Lowery
Incident at Hawk's Hill by Alan W. Eckert
The Haymeadow by Gary Paulson
The Skull by Gary Paulson was great much into the story that kids can relate to...especially working around Native American students.