Lit nerds shaming (just what the world needed)

bookwarRuth Graham’s new article on why adults should be ashamed to read YA literature seems to have brought all the literary snobs out of the wood work. You know the type, your friend who only read Joyce in public or lament much to loud and publicly about poetry that rhymes. Of course this tends to be an issue, that comes to surface again and again and again. It isn’t enough to read, you have to read the right work.

When I was a child, the devil was Goosebumps. How could kids waste their time on this, there was no literary value…blah blah blah blah blah.

I was one of those kids wasting my time reading these poorly written crap, which they were, no moral, no plot development and frankly about half way through the book, I could tell you how it was going to end. But to my third grade self, there was nothing more exciting than getting my next book-order in with my new Goosebumps book.

Mind you, before those books I HATED reading. I’d only read what was required in school. And eventually I became bored with them and moved on to the classics (Fahrenheit 451, Tom Sawyer, etc).

Here is something to think about (from 2013): 32 million adults in the U.S. can’t read. That’s 14 percent of the population. 21 percent of adults in the U.S. read below a 5th grade level, and 19 percent of high school graduates can’t read:million adults in the U.S. can’t read. That’s 14 percent of the population. 21 percent of adults in the U.S. read below a 5th grade level, and 19 percent of high school graduates can’t read.

We do not need to be shaming people on their literary choices. Yes, there are more engaging and mind boggling works than YA (though some are pretty darn powerful like 13 Reason’s Why), but frankly as long as something keeps you reading, that is something.

And let’s talk about some of the classics, with a plot break down:

Old man and the sea: Old man goes fishing. Has a lot of regret. Finally catches his giant fish. Sharks eat it. He is defeated. Dreams of lions (dies).

The Catcher in the Rye: A whiny boy whines for way too long.

Need I go on? (Don’t get me started on Pamela.)

In all, Graham’s article seems to forget:

Reading is a personal choice and what is engaging or deep to someone is completely person.

Frankly, I challenge all of you to go reread Dr. Seuss’s work, there’s some deep social complementary in it.

And there is an art in simplicity in the ability to expound deep thoughts to younger audiences.

So go out, read what you want. Be it a magazine, a best seller or a classic and don’t let anyone give you crap for it.

 

Drunk on children’s lit

Children’s and YA books are just plain strange. I was reminded of that this week, when I saw that Johnny Depp will be starring in a sequel to Alice in Wonderland, a movie I will not be seeing. Don’t get me wrong, I love Johnny Depp. He is a beautiful and talented piece of “man-candy,” and I even devoted most of my highschool free time (cuz my friends and I were the cool kids…) to watching every movie Johnny Depp ever starred in. FIY: He’s been in a lot of movies, and half of them are god-awful. Image

However, as I said, I won’t be seeing this movie. Not because my love of Johnny has waned or that I think the movie will be awful, but rather, because Alice in Wonderland scares the living daylights out of me. Or rather should I say scares the living-nights of out me.

This trippy, old foray into children’s literature, has since age 9, given me the same horrifyingly odd recurring nightmare (Involving Santa getting kidnapped, an evil replacement and bombs at my grade school, amongst other things.) Reading the book. Seeing a movie version. Doesn’t matter. Any in-depth mention of the story, triggers this nightmare.

I think, sometimes, for as protective as people are of children that certain books have slipped through the cracks to become classics and become a standard for children even if the story is horrifying. I don’t think this is a bad thing, just funny, considering how hard many people have tried to clean-up children’s stories. (Oh Grimm’s and Hans Christian Andersen sadly, most of your stories didn’t make the cut, but, of course, in the end, most of us find out Ariel offs herself and Cinderella’s step sister’s get their eyes pecked out by birds….).

Which is why, this week, on the news of this movie, I found this article from Barnes N Nobles especially amusing, 5 children books that makes me feel that I’m drunk. Alice in Wonderland is my drunk book, an odd, trippy sort of story which upon reflection, almost seems unwarranted for children but has still become a favorite. (My runner up is Cat in the Hat.)

What your favorite trippy children’s story?