I originally started this blog to encourage people—both young people and adults—to read books and to talk about books. Originally, I had planned to become an English teacher, and viewed this blog as an opportunity to share my points of view about literature with students and parents. Hence, a lot of early reviews are for children’s books and YA books. I’ve rewritten most of this page as a result.
For example, this page originally included this passage:
However, I also realized that this as good a place to discuss issues students and teachers face in the English/Language Arts classroom — apart from the books themselves. Which books do we want to read, have to read, ought to read? Why is there this distinction? How big is that distinction? How does technology affect our approach to literature? Does it create a new access to literature, or does it reduce literature to a product to be consumed? What of larger pedagogical issues? Is there value in having an entire middle school class read the same text (and answer the same questions about it)? Is student choice the way to increase literacy?
I also want to examine both classic and current children’s and young adult literature in a critical light. My purpose is not to recommend books, although I do that with enthusiasm when a book merits it. Nor is my purpose to discourage readers from reading certain books, but to point the deficiencies in these works and and to make them aware of these deficiencies. This is especially true in the case of multicultural books, which are often received gladly, but with an uncritical eye, by teachers, parents, and students. In order to do that, we need to move away from examining only the formalist elements of a text, such as theme and symbolism, but to also use other critical theories, such as post-colonialism, Marxism, feminism, and gender studies (to name but a few), to open up news ways of looking at and understanding books.
That’s a lot of ground to cover, which explains why I am sometimes slow to update this blog. (Besides this blog I am involved in a lot of other things.)
While those items are still a major focus of this blog, I am also using this blog to talk more and more about issues concering writing and publishing—without those two things, after all, we wouldn’t have books to read or discuss.
Also, even though I am not an English teacher, I do work as a writing coach and freelance editor, and a lot of that work is really teaching. But still…busy, busy, busy.
This is also from the original version of this page:
But my main purpose was, and remains, to encourage people of all ages to read great literature of all sorts, and to share their thoughts and opinions on it. I was recently going through my library and came across Madeline L’Engle’s “Time Quartet” (the one that stars with A Wrinkle in Time) and I was immediately envious of all those who will read them for the first time as well as my future self who reread them again (for the fourth—or is it the fifth?—time) in the near future. After all, part of the joy of living with literature is encountering new books and making new friends with them, as well as rereading old favorites and greeting them like the old friends that they are—and at the same time being surprised and delighted by how much both of us have changed during our time apart.
Because I don’t want to ruin that first experience with a book, if I’m about to give away the ending or a major plot twist, you’ll see the following:
So if you haven’t read the book, and you want to, you better stop right there and dive into that book.
I still get jealous of people who have the opportunity to read such great books for the first time. But to have a thorough discussion about some books does require spoilers. If you haven’t read the book in question already, and are planning to, keep an eye out for those spoilers. Giving out spoilers without a heads-up is disrespectful to both authors and readers.
Comments are welcome. I rarely shut down comments on posts, but I do moderate comments. My official comment policy is here.
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Updated 21 January 2018.
Published on: 9 April 2011
Lasted edited on: 17 September 2023