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love4books
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Registered: ‎09-18-2007
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Lack of Love for Reading in High School

 After reading plaidfroggie's message in the favorite books when you were a kid thread I began thinking of my own reading in school vs. my child's today.

  I remember loving to read as a kid and really wanting to pass that on to my daughter.  Lucky for me all of my reading to her as a baby paid off and she loves to read (much more than even I did as a child). 

  I still enjoy reading however, like Plaidfroggie mentioned I do not like reading many of the classics as we had to in Jr. High and High School picking apart each chapter in great lengths.  I am not sure if it was the picking apart the book and writing styles or the fact that I may not have actually had an interest in reading the particular types of books we were required to.

  Only a few of my daughter's elementary teachers really encouraged reading.  I have volunteered a lot in the school and find it very sad to see the few number of children who really enjoy reading.  I have had a lot of concern during my daughters elementary years as they have never had to do any type of book report or review and the teachers that have read to them in class do not talk to them about protagonists, plots, etc. 

  Our middle school grades have changed from 5th and 6th graders to 6th through 8th grade.  The setting is exactly like high school changing either 6 or 8 classes a day.  I have done reading on the school website and it sounds as if term papers and research papers are going to be a big part of even 6th grade.  Since my daughter's class hasn't had to pick out the basics of any type of reading I figure the struggles will begin quicker for her then they did for me.

  I find books much more enjoyable and get a lot more out of them if I don't have to pick them all apart.  I have probably missed out on liking (or remembering for that matter) great books because I was worried more about trying to understand what to pick apart for the paper that needed to be written about it.  Like Plaidfroggie, I have thought about going back and reading a couple of books that were required in highschool that others think are wonderful such as The Tale of Two Cities or The Great Gatsby however my mind just turns back to the time in school and thinking they were so totally boring that I decide to stick with the types that I continue to enjoy reading.

  Literature was much the same for me. Constantly a struggle to determine what the author actually meant.  LOL, I couldn't wait to get out of Shakespeare only I found myself having problems with whoever was after that in the text book.  I am not sure how I managed to pass that class as I can not remember to this day anything we read other than Shakespeare.

   I am not sure but maybe the fact that elementary teachers do not constantly pick apart books is the reason why young children enjoy reading more.  I am sure it also helps that children are encouraged to read what interests them at a young age.  As they get older they don't get to choose what to read about anymore they have to read what the teacher picks out.  I always thought it would be better if students could pick out their own books to read and analyze. They would at least be able to pick out something that interests them.

 

love4books

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melissas
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Re: Lack of Love for Reading in High School

Funny you should cite the example of The Great Gatsby. If I were pressed to choose the required reading book I disliked the most, I would choose that one. But I can't help but wonder if that was affected by the fact that we spent an entire 6-week grading period talking about nothing but Gatsby in my AP Language class. In fact, if I were to unknowingly read a description of the book at this moment, I would probably think that it sounds pretty good!
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Permacav50
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Re: Lack of Love for Reading in High School

Lol, yeah The Great Gatsby was required reading when I was in high school too and I can't say it was a book I enjoyed either. However my review may be corrupted from watching the movie in class after we were done reading the book. My god the cast members in the movie were so irritating I almost jabbed my pencil into my ears so I could go deaf and not have to listen to their voices anymore. Funnily enough I was not the only person to say this exact thing and even other generations have shared this view. 

On the other hand I did enjoy several of the required reading books from high school. Some of the ones I recall are Lord of the Flies, Of Mice and Men, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, The Cay plus several short stories.

 

   

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ConnieAnnKirk
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Re: Lack of Love for Reading in High School

I've heard this comment before about readers getting turned off by literary analysis.  It's kind of an age-old problem, I guess.  Educators believe it's important to learn to think and analyze by using literature as an example of how to do that, but then readers say the analysis "ruins" the book for them by "picking books apart."

 

If you'd like to talk more about this question here, please feel free!  It certainly must be true that there are parents here who lost their love of books in the upper grades and unfortunately never picked it back up again.  I wonder how that affects their willingness or not to share books with their children? 

~ConnieAnnKirk




[CAK's books , website.]
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plaidfroggie
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Re: Lack of Love for Reading in High School

Oops I guess I should have started a new thread for this topic, sorry I asked my question in the wrong place.  I did manage to maintain a love of reading, though I can't deal with authors that we were forced to read.  Actually when I consider the fact that I didn't mind Shakespeare's sonnets as much as his plays I realize that I must mention in my case reading a format that is plainly supposed to be acted out was the problem for me with all plays.  However because of changes in the language I didn't like that to read something I needed to have notes at the bottom of the page.  Reading about the biting of thumb being an insult I realized only when we watched a movie version our equivalent is flipping the bird.

 

My English teachers except for sophomore year of high school were fairly open minded, however I had talked about poetry and other writing things without a grading scale and vocabulary words like epiphany with my grandmother.  However by putting a letter grade on how many times you saw alliteration, etc it creates a stress that detracts from the material.  The two books I will never consider re-reading are "The Sound and the Fury", and "Cry the Beloved Country."  Truthfully they were mind numbingly excrutiating for me.

 

I made a deal with myself I would never read another play including Shakespeare unless I have seen it performed live first.  For me I will watch a play if I am interested, but not read one.  I have a feeling that reading plays ruined them for me in the way that reading books turned into movies ruins a good book only in reverse.  I want to be enchanted if I go to a live performance, I don't want to flashback to a high school discussion that tore apart every aspect of something that an English major probably wrote a thesis on decades after an author died and now it is part of a high school curriculum.

 

The author I would most like to give another chance is Charles Dickens.  I will sometimes think that the storyline of Oliver Twist sounds so much more interseting than Great Expectations that they made us read that I get tempted since I did try A Christmas Carol.  Then I look at the length and one of the things that frightens me is the question I asked in freshman high school English about why some of the things were in the book Great Expectations and my instructor informing me "well he got paid by the word".  I can see where he would have wandered around as much as possible since that was how he was paid and it still didn't ease the confusion I felt as someone from a different country that knows very little English history that my problem was complete ignorance of the struggles in England.  Then we read The Scarlet Letter and I despised it.  I realized I had heard a great deal about the Puritans and it didn't make me like that book just because I knew the history behind the struggle.  Great Expectations had parts to it that felt to me like the author needed to split off another book.  I read many long books and have never had that feeling before or since.

 

I will start thinking about how much I liked Jack London when I read him independently after exposure in middle school.  Then I remember how much I enjoyed Robert Frost poetry until we had to write papers and read so many of his poems in that "tainted" high school atmosphere that I regret I will never be able to read them as openly as I would like to be able to again.  The same goes for some of the other authors like Mark Twain.  In middle school I was enchanted by Tom Sawyer.  I was very interested in Huckleberry Finn until we read it for class.  Now though I start to consider more of his writing I find myself hesitating because the fun is gone.  I tried and failed with The Prince and the Pauper and some things but I just can't recapture the "voice" that I enjoyed by the authors prior to my droning high school teachers substituting theirs.

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melissas
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Re: Lack of Love for Reading in High School

I've been thinking about this even more, and I don't necessarily think that the analysis itself (of a literary work) will "ruin" it. I think it truly depends on how the teacher makes you think about it. An example comparing two of my former teachers:

 

1) The Great Gatsby in 11th grade, as mentioned in my previous post, was a book we spent an entire grading period on.  We wrote several papers regarding different themes and daily discussions took place. A dozen years later, all I can remember about the book are these fragments: east versus west, eyes on the billboard, green light, fake books on shelves, and Daisy. I can't tell you anything that happened, or how these things relate to the book, but I know we talked for each of those topics for hours.

 

2) The Canterbury Tales, a work of equal significance, was studied during my senior year for maybe two to three weeks. Our teacher had us analyze and present the book in one-man performance pieces. I can distinctly remember the costume I wore when I interpreted the knight's tale. I had so much fun, and found it so interesting that it still sticks with me today. Needless to say, I would re-read this one in a heartbeat.

 

I don't want to blame my dislike for any books on the fact that I had to analyze them. I honestly believe that the teacher's approach affects that more than anything else.

 

 By the way, I've loved to read my whole life, high school is no exception. There are just those few books that stick out in my mind as insufferable for the aforementioned reasons.

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kate12345
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Re: Lack of Love for Reading in High School

Hey I accidentally clicked into this, but thought I would give my opinion anyways. First off I'm a high school senior and I love reading, even the books given to me at school. I was shocked when you said you hated the Great Gatsby, most people at my school will say its the only one they actually read and liked it. Anyways I like when teachers pick things apart in a book. Expecially when its older literature because it helps you bridge the generation gap and talk about things that maybe you didn't get. The lack of love for reading in my opinion is a lack of effort and just being lazy.

 

Also has anyone read The Once and Future king and does it get less boring? haha

Kate : )
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melissas
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Re: Lack of Love for Reading in High School

I can see why you would think that, and I'm sure for some people it's true.

 

I always loved to analyze literature when I was in school, too; I found hidden meanings and social commentary fascinating. Any dislike I've harbored for particular books was never because I was lazy or not putting any effort into it. In fact, I was such a hard-working student, I graduated at the top of my class with a 4.3 GPA. I think some of it was boredom, though. When you discuss something you aren't interested in, or even if you are interested and you discuss it too much, you're likely to be apathetic. Also, literature is a creative endeavor, and I think that when teachers use creative methods to break down a work, they're more likely to succeed in nurturing a love of reading...and literary analysis.

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love4books
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Re: Lack of Love for Reading in High School

Like Melissa, laziness wasn't the issue when it came to school and reading. I have been thinking more about this and would have to agree that to some extent if teachers would have made it more interesting they may not have been as bad. I can't say for sure though since the 3 different teachers I had all the same type of teaching methods. I have been going back through some of the different titles of books that I was required to read in school to see if any of them appealing to me as an adult. After reading up on some of the incerpts I found that I would probably find only one that would be of any interest to me to read as an adult and that would be The Scarlet Letter. I have thought about the different books in school that I had to read that I enjoyed and only came up with a couple. The Call of the Wild and The Diary of Anne Frank. I liked Anne Frank so much that I have purchased that one to read with my daughter this year. I don't remember much about The Call of the Wild other then I found it terrible sad and felt bad for the dog. I think that for me these two books I related to much easier because I love animals and because I never cared much for history yet being able to learn about Hitler through a girls eye close to the same age as myself was very interesting. Maybe because this was her personal diary we could sense her feelings much easier. It would be interesting to see what other high school students thought of their mandatory readings and why they feel that way. Since my daughter isn't in highschool yet I can only observe what I see in younger children and reading. I find it incredibly sad that so many do not like to read or still can't read at an age time where there are so many books that can inspire them in so many different ways. love4books
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ConnieAnnKirk
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Re: Lack of Love for Reading in High School

Do all of you think the rise of young adult literature over the last several years is meeting a need for teen readers who are too old for children's lit. but not quite ready for classics or older, contemporary fiction?  Will YA lit. help bridge that gap for some readers and keep them reading until they're ready to move on to the popular adult fiction of the day?

~ConnieAnnKirk




[CAK's books , website.]
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emeraldisle
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Re: Lack of Love for Reading in High School

I think YA fiction can keep some interested who otherwise would have stopped reading.  BUT, I don't think that kids hate reading; it's just that  there is so much competition for their time that reading gets pushed down the priority list. Sports. dating, music, videos, TV, video games, movies, friendships, online activities....all take up a lot of time and mental energy! That puts a lot of pressure on poor English teachers to keep kids interested in reading...along with the fact that many kids don't see their parents reading at home. (which is another whole issue, ie. why don't many adults read?)  

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melissas
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Re: Lack of Love for Reading in High School

I absolutely think that all the new YA books out there are bridging the gap between children's literature and classics/adult literature. There is so much more out there than there was when I was a teen, books that cover every interest a teenager may have. Then, there is the peer influence factor. It only takes one student at school glorifying a book to get a whole class reading it...and the effect snowballs with other (typically similar) titles. Also, interestingly enough, I'm not so sure that YA is something to keep readers occupied until they're ready for more sophisticated titles—I think that YA is so wonderfully written and hugely appealing that people will continue reading it well into adulthood. It's no longer just a bridge, but a real genre that all ages can be attracted to. I say this not only based on my personal tastes (at least 50% of the books I read are YA), but also based on almost 10 years working in the bookstore. It never ceases to amaze me how many women my age (30ish) go to the Teen section to find books for themselves.

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JL_Garner
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Re: Lack of Love for Reading in High School

 


emeraldisle wrote:

 

I think YA fiction can keep some interested who otherwise would have stopped reading.  BUT, I don't think that kids hate reading; it's just that  there is so much competition for their time that reading gets pushed down the priority list. Sports. dating, music, videos, TV, video games, movies, friendships, online activities....all take up a lot of time and mental energy! That puts a lot of pressure on poor English teachers to keep kids interested in reading...along with the fact that many kids don't see their parents reading at home. (which is another whole issue, ie. why don't many adults read?)


 

Many adults don't read for the same reason many teens don't read. Just take your list and substitute "work" for "school."

 

 


melissas wrote:

 

I absolutely think that all the new YA books out there are bridging the gap between children's literature and classics/adult literature. There is so much more out there than there was when I was a teen, books that cover every interest a teenager may have. Then, there is the peer influence factor. It only takes one student at school glorifying a book to get a whole class reading it...and the effect snowballs with other (typically similar) titles. Also, interestingly enough, I'm not so sure that YA is something to keep readers occupied until they're ready for more sophisticated titles—I think that YA is so wonderfully written and hugely appealing that people will continue reading it well into adulthood. It's no longer just a bridge, but a real genre that all ages can be attracted to. I say this not only based on my personal tastes (at least 50% of the books I read are YA), but also based on almost 10 years working in the bookstore. It never ceases to amaze me how many women my age (30ish) go to the Teen section to find books for themselves.


 

I think the only thing that's disappointing about YA as a genre is that it's still decidedly tilted towards girls, and except for a few authors who write for boys (Walter Dean Myers, Gary Paulsen) or have universal appeal (Jerry Spinelli, David Levithan), the genre seems like it's currently dominated by "mean girls" series (The Clique, Gossip Girl, Private, etc.) or vampire romances (Twilight, Vampire Kisses, Vampire Diaries, etc., ad nauseam). Mind you, I've enjoyed reading some of it (especially Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants), but I have a difficult time trying to recommend books for teenage boys who are reluctant readers.

 

Getting back to the original topic, The Great Gatsby is probably the only novel from any of my high school literature classes that I revisited afterward. I mostly enjoyed it the first time around (though we did pick its bones for every last bit of meaning), so that wasn't too hard to stomach. Faulkner I will never read again unless I'm feeling depressed and want to make myself more depressed. About the only title from that time that I want to revisit but haven't yet is John Knowles' A Separate Peace.

 

Shakespeare I've always loved; whenever we read Shakespeare, I saw it as an excuse to break out my collection of bad accents (imagine the French ambassador from Act I, Scene II of Henry V being played like the French Taunter from Monty Python and the Holy Grail). I maintain that I was born 60 years too late to find my true calling: a radio actor. :smileywink:

 

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melissas
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Re: Lack of Love for Reading in High School


JL_Garner wrote:

 

I think the only thing that's disappointing about YA as a genre is that it's still decidedly tilted towards girls, and except for a few authors who write for boys (Walter Dean Myers, Gary Paulsen) or have universal appeal (Jerry Spinelli, David Levithan), the genre seems like it's currently dominated by "mean girls" series (The Clique, Gossip Girl, Private, etc.) or vampire romances (Twilight, Vampire Kisses, Vampire Diaries, etc., ad nauseam). Mind you, I've enjoyed reading some of it (especially Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants), but I have a difficult time trying to recommend books for teenage boys who are reluctant readers. 


 

Sad, but true. I find that I have this conversation regularly with customers. I end up recommending books from a slightly younger age group because there are still plenty of books in the Young Readers section that appeal to boys. For example, a teenaged boy could get into the Ranger's Apprentice series, The Bartimaeus Trilogy, or The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series to name a few. However, for some more advanced readers this could be insulting. Some day soon I hope talented authors out there realize that more boys are turning to reading and begin to balance the market (and make my job easier!).

 

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ConnieAnnKirk
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Young Adult Fiction


melissas wrote:

I absolutely think that all the new YA books out there are bridging the gap between children's literature and classics/adult literature. There is so much more out there than there was when I was a teen, books that cover every interest a teenager may have. Then, there is the peer influence factor. It only takes one student at school glorifying a book to get a whole class reading it...and the effect snowballs with other (typically similar) titles. Also, interestingly enough, I'm not so sure that YA is something to keep readers occupied until they're ready for more sophisticated titles—I think that YA is so wonderfully written and hugely appealing that people will continue reading it well into adulthood. It's no longer just a bridge, but a real genre that all ages can be attracted to. I say this not only based on my personal tastes (at least 50% of the books I read are YA), but also based on almost 10 years working in the bookstore. It never ceases to amaze me how many women my age (30ish) go to the Teen section to find books for themselves.


 

I think you make a good point, melissas.  It kind of downgrades YA to say it's simply a "bridge" to more adult level reading, when so much of it is good on its own.  There seems to be an explosion in YA lately.  I wonder what it addresses for the adult that adults find interesting in it, you know?  Is it that those 30-something readers miss the drama of that period of their lives?  Are the edgier titles addressing more events that happen in real families?  Could it be length--some YA are still shorter than adult novels (but many are longer!). 

 

What do you all think?

~ConnieAnnKirk




[CAK's books , website.]
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JL_Garner
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Re: Young Adult Fiction

I must not be paying close enough attention; Twilight was the first time I'd seen a Juvie/YA title apart from Harry Potter with cross-generational appeal, both at my store and at my library, but even then, it didn't really seem to cross over until about a year ago. I mean, I've got 70-year-old ladies at my library nagging me about the waiting list for Breaking Dawn! :smileyvery-happy:

 

I too am curious as to what it is that these ladies are finding in YA that they aren't finding in regular adult fiction.

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TiggerBear
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Re: Young Adult Fiction

 


JL_Garner wrote:

I must not be paying close enough attention; Twilight was the first time I'd seen a Juvie/YA title apart from Harry Potter with cross-generational appeal, both at my store and at my library, but even then, it didn't really seem to cross over until about a year ago. I mean, I've got 70-year-old ladies at my library nagging me about the waiting list for Breaking Dawn! :smileyvery-happy:

 

I too am curious as to what it is that these ladies are finding in YA that they aren't finding in regular adult fiction.


 

 

Hmm

Vampires - yes there are so many vampire books out , but this series being popular makes it easier for some

Ever lasting love in an over the top style ie R & J 

Life with fewer real life problems

nostalga

 

 

Mostly though popular, any book getting that much press with have nearly everyone buying a copy just to see what all the hullabaloo is about.

 

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melissas
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Re: Lack of Love for Reading in High School

There are so many good reasons to read YA literature. Here's my personal list:

 

* I would like to seriously consider being a Teen (or Young Readers) buyer  for the company, so I like to expose myself to as much as possible where this is concerned.

* Having left my teens ages ago, I find that I like to revisit the roads I did not choose to travel way back when.

* Drama! Either an overabundance of it (boys, friends, more boys) or a lack of the drama I currently have in my life (how will I ever save enough money to buy a house?!?)

* Teens seem to face more social issues than we did when I was growing up. Of course, there were always a few girls who got pregnant before graduation, and boys who got together to smoke, but these concerns are more widespread today.  I find it fascinating to see the problems they are confronted with and how they react to them.

* I am a Fantasy fan, and I find that Teen fantasy isn't as hardcore as adult Fantasy (which I sometimes find hard to get into). It's easier to get my fix in Teens.

* I refuse to grow up, so I identify with young people.

 

I think about covers all of my reasons. What drives everyone else to read YA?