THIS Reads: Mama, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Twihards

by thiszine

BY SWEETMAN

Are you wondering what to give the tween or teenager in your life? Think books. Reading is a gift that never stops giving. Give books, real books, not anything electronic – kids today suffer from waaaaaaaaaay too much electronic crap cluttering up their brains. The act of reading sustains the brain’s ability to solve logic problems and operate on a higher level of processing and reasoning. And there’s nothing like the physical reminder of a thoughtfully given book.

I am not well-versed in books for babies, toddlers or young children although I’ve had two babies (then toddlers then young children). It’s been my limited experience that “popular” and “educational” are somewhat less satisfying for both parents and children. I always leaned toward the classics and books about trucks because I have two sons. Whatever you give to a toddler or non-reading child, make sure it’s something that you’ll love reading over and over and over again, too.

For school age to young adult, here’s what not to give: any of the Twilight books. I know they have a legion of followers breathlessly fainting into the pages because Edward is so amazing and Bella is so amazing and the Twilight books are so amazing and there you have it: indoctrination to repetitively bad writing. Let the tween or teen borrow Twilight from a friend or the library and let’s stop shoving money into Ms. Meyer’s overflowing coffers. There are far better things to read:

C.S. Lewis, Chronicles of Narnia
A classic masterpiece, Lewis’s seven book series takes the reader into the fantastic world of Narnia. Four children – Peter, Susan, Edward and Lucy Pevensie – find the magical world of Narnia through a wardrobe in Professor Digory Kirke’s mansion. In Narnia they join forces with the noble Aslan to save the wintry world from the evil White Witch. Readable chapter books for even the youngest children, The Chronicles of Narnia series has widely influenced and guided the talents of many influential authors, musicians, directors and artists since they were published in the 1950s.

J.K. Rowling, The Harry Potter Series
We can’t thank J.K. Rowling enough because she didn’t just ignite the spark of love for reading in young people: she set the house on fire. The Harry Potter Series, seven epic novels about Harry Potter, Hogwarts School for Wizardry and Witchcraft, and the battle of good versus evil, have become instant coming-of-age classics. J.K. Rowling masterfully narrates an epic and, at times, very dark tale full of memorable characters in a magical wizarding world. These books are excellent on many levels and the writing is superb. I confess I was reluctant – no disdainful – of the books when they first came out because I had no interest in the magical world of wizardry. Fantasy was not my genre but my sister gave a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stones to my youngest son for his 5th birthday. It was a gift that I believed was a curse because I had to read it out loud to him. However, before the first chapter ended I was hooked and waited as anxiously as all the other Harry Potter fans for the next installment. I read each word of all seven books to my youngest son, a literary experience like no other in my life.

Lemony Snicket, A Series of Unfortunate Events
Thirteen quick-paced, sharp and witty books chronicle the adventures of Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire, beginning with the fiery deaths of their parents and propelling them through a number of unfortunate events as they are pursued by their distant relative, the evil Count Olaf. The books in A Series of Unfortunate Events are cautionary tales with dark Grimm undertones but they are clever and engaging. It’s a series that is sure to develop and secure a young reader into a life of good reading.

In tomorrow’s THIS Reads, Sweetman discusses more beloved children’s books by Roald Dahl and E.B. White.

photo: Stephanie Skidmore

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6 Responses to “THIS Reads: Mama, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Twihards”

  1. Let me preface this by saying that I’m not a fan of the Twilight series, and that I think Meyer is a fourth rate J.K. Rowling. That being said: this whole phenomenon isn’t really that bad of a thing. You say “indoctrination to repetitively bad writing,” but at least it’s writing. The mere fact that these books are getting people to read is pretty good even if the writing itself is crap. Your statement seems to have the implicit assumption that these readers will always adore poorly written drivel just because their love for reading started with such a terrible book series. How many of us who are twenty years and older found their love for reading in the pages of an R.L. Stine book, or sub-par novel adaptations of movies? Bad writing exists everywhere. The only reason that Twilight gets so much crap is because this counter-cultural movement against its popularity has become arguably just as popular as the series itself–it has become hip to hate the book series.

    And I’m not defending the book on the grounds that it has superb content or is worth reading, but instead that–as you briefly mention in your Harry Potter section–the book series has people reading. The people who find that they really like the act of reading a novel will ultimately, in all probability, move on to bigger, better novels perhaps starting with Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower and moving on to Hemingway, Faulkner, Joyce, Zora Neale Hurston, Plath, and Woolf.

    Let us not dismiss the few positive consequences of this book’s popularity just because it’s popular to do so.

    • Excellent points! Thank you for your insightful comments. Of course “badly written” books can spark the love for reading. My intent was to offer selections as a giver of books, a very limited selection at that, yet what a beautiful, life-long gift to give. Band-wagon mentalityaside, I dislike the Twilight series not only for the fourth-rate writing, but for the disturbing romanticism of damaging relationsips–but that’s a whole differnet subject. Thank you again, you’ve made some brilliant observations.

  2. Your blog is great! The same applies to your post about what to give/suggest kids to read… Books for children must not just include breath-taking adventures, scary/good/evil/kind characters/creatures etc. There should also be good thoughts, wisdom, events that could make any kid think over his/her actions and strive to become a better peson as well. A good book for children must also be of the kind that adults could read and think over too, and those you mentioned are exactly the books that fit in this category. Such books could have a great influence on kids’ minds. I remember when I told my Tale Of The Rock Pieces to the two sons of a friend of mine they started to take care of their health much more than their friends at their age, even today when they are youngsters they don’t smoke, don’t drink strong drinks, do exercises every day and still remember my story. They still claim that this story of mine helped them to treat well their bodies and to remember many intersting facts about animals…
    I’m a big fan of Harry Potter and Chronicles of Narnia’s series, they helped me to write some of my books too and I have a special addiction to the 1st Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling wrote it almost at the same time when I wrote my 1st Tale Of The Rock Pieces :). Best wishes to all Harry Potter and good children’s books’ fans! Great blog! Keep the good work going!

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