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Back to Oct. Ed Reporter

Education Reporter
NUMBER 225 THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS OCTOBER 2004

Beware of Depressing Reading
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Some of the depressing or inappropriate books on school supplementary reading lists this year include:
  • Slain rapper and convicted sexual abuser Tupac Shakur's posthumous book of "poems" with titles like "Dedicated 2 Me" and "Dedicated 2 My Heart"

  • Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech, a novel about a daughter's search for her missing mother who suffered deep depression after a miscarriage and hysterectomy and was later killed in a bus accident

  • Belle Prater's Boy by Ruth White, about a missing father who died by shooting himself in the face

  • Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo, about a girl whose mother drank too much and abandoned her, leaving her to rebuild her life with the help of a dog.

'Everybody dies'

Young adult "problem novels" assigned to her 12-year-old son prompted Barbara Feinberg to write Welcome to Lizard Motel, which contrasts the imaginative books she enjoyed in her youth to the award-winning books favored by English teachers now, in which "everybody dies."

Paula Fox's Monkey Island (about an abandoned 11-year-old living on the street) and Karen Hesse's Phoenix Rising (about a girl whose father ran off, whose mother and grandfather are dead and whose neighbors are poisoned by radiation from a nearby power plant accident) "are as bleak as a gas station parking lot at 4 a.m.," according to a New York Times review of Lizard Motel. Newbery Award winners "are notoriously glum." (8-22-04)

Across the pond, Britain's leading literary award for children's books faces a revolt by young readers who say they would prefer good old-fashioned stories to the controversial fare selected by the Carnegie Medal's selection committee of librarians. Children's reading circles set up to stimulate interest in the prize have panned the following recent winners:

  • The Other Side of Truth by Beverley Naidoo, about a Nigerian brother and sister seeking asylum in Britain

  • Postcards from No Man's Land by Aidan Chambers, a tale of euthanasia and sexual awakening

  • Junk by Melvin Burgess, chronicling a descent into addiction.

"Grown-ups usually choose the most 'adult' books out of the selection," complained a 13-year-old critic in a survey conducted by The Sunday Telegraph (5-26-02).


 
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Eagle Forum • PO Box 618 • Alton, IL 62002 phone: 618-462-5415 fax: 618-462-8909 eagle@eagleforum.org