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And whatever connections I can make between these chapters of my life.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

What We Read Then/ What They're Reading Now

I ran across this post on the Horn Book blog recently. The mere mention of To Kill a Mockingbird caught my attention. Check this wikipedia source- it was published in 1960. Perhaps I read it as a Young Adult. But I know when I reread it recently, it sounded to me a lot like a book written for adults even if it's now mostly read by teenagers, and younger.

When I was in high school, there was a corner of our library--the corner nearest the street windows and the library check-out desk, that was labeled the Mississippi Collection. Mrs. Walker, my wonderful librarian there, frequently sent me in that direction to read Margaret Alexander and Eudora Welty and Wirt Williams. And many more, now forgotten. I gravitated toward historical fiction- maybe because my American history teacher gave us AN ENTIRE EXTRA POINT on our grade for each book completed and reported on. Man, was I ever a brownnoser in that department.

I digress...

But I also read a lot of trash, including my mother's hidden copy of Peyton Place (when I was in about 7th grade) and my senior high school English teacher's recommendation of a banned book: Forever Amber.

So what are high school kids reading now? Lots of "crossover" books. Edgy YA. The winners of the Printz Award? I just hope the words reading and high school kids continue to be used in the same sentence.

Here's what Horn Book editor Roger Sutton says about his own experience reading Mockingbird:
While having much to say about racism, societal strictures, and justice, what Mockingbird is mostly about is the difference between the way children and adults look at the world. At nine, I felt too allied with Scout to have any distance from her, and what flew over her head flew over mine as well. Does that mean I read the book at the “wrong” age? Nah — it only means that great books speak across time, both our own and the world’s.

Amen to that, wouldn't you say?

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