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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sometimes addiction is a good thing

I confess to not understanding the widespread hatred for Harry Potter and Twilight from people who have not actually read the books.

What is it about popular juvenile fiction that engenders such extreme emotion on the part of non-fans?

It all makes perfect sense if you actually read it - then you will know for sure if you love, like, dislike, hate or want to burn the books.

I've read all of the Harry Potter books, and enjoyed them all. JK Rowling is an excellent story-teller and spins a fine yarn that gets progressively darker and more convoluted as the characters age and delve deeper into the mysteries of the world she has built.

From the very little I’ve read of the Twilight books, Stephanie Meyer is a less technically accomplished writer and her story is a fairly shallow romance/urban fantasy story with a very specific target audience – young teenage girls. This is not a bad thing, it just isn’t the type of story I can get interested in reading. I certainly don’t hate it or look down on people who are fans.

What is truly great about both of these series, however, is that they have young people reading them - in very large droves. Almost anything that gets kids reading is a good thing, IMO. Once kids get hooked on reading, they will branch out and read in a much broader area.

You shouldn't stress over whether the characters in the book are good role models for your kids. Your children are actually capable of understanding the difference between pretend and reality – no matter how much they pretend to be Hermione or Edward or Superman or Ariel or whatever, they know that it is pretend and that they aren’t really a witch or vampire or alien or mermaid.

Get your kids reading – even if what they are reading isn’t what you yourself prefer. Reading is the key to the world – a person who reads well and comprehends what he reads can learn anything. And the most important lesson he will learn is to think for himself, to dig into something that is worth knowing, and to always be trying to learn more and more.

Here are some books and series for kids and juveniles that are worth reading – you may not like them yourself and may even strongly disagree with some of the messages that are presented, but your kids may well learn to love reading through these books:

Bobbsey Twins by Laura Lee Hope (pseudonym for many BT authors)
Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene (pseudonym for many ND authors)
Encyclopedia Brown by Donald Sobol
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein
Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein
His Dark Materiels by Phillip Pullman
Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket (pseudonym for Daniel Handler)
The Hardy Boys by Franklin W. Dixon (pseudonym for many HB authors)
Podkayne of Mars by Robert Heinlein
Tunnel in the Sky by Robert Heinlein
Lucky Starr series by Paul French (pseudonym for Isaac Asimov)
Norby Chronicles by Isaac and Janet Asimov

This is just a short list off the top of my head, and it includes only fiction in the genres of mystery, fantasy and science fiction. These came first to mind, I suppose, because they are well-known and already very popular with young readers. While there are hundreds of thousands of fine books (both fiction and non-fiction) for young readers, I think that these kinds of stories are the best gateways because they grab the kids and bring them into the adventures and lives of the characters and make them want more and more.

Sometimes, addiction is a good thing.


Website Design said...

I personally like the Twilight series a lot.Thank you for the list.Look forward to more such posts.