Posts tagged ‘harry potter’

December 2, 2010

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

September 27, 2010

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Censorship

by thiszine

BY URSULA K. RAPHAEL

If you’ve paid attention to recent news, you’ve probably heard about Terry Jones, the preacher who proposed burning the Qur’an. Alas, book censorship is still alive and well in the United States, the country that totes freedom of speech as our national mantra. Not only is it ridiculous, but it’s a shameful waste of millions of trees. Unfortunately, there are people who are so desperate to protect others from what they consider “harmful reading material,” they are probably recruiting computer hackers to create viruses to stop the downloading of “dangerous ideas” to Kindles everywhere.

Number one on the banned/challenged book list of 2000-2009, compiled by the American Library Association, is *drum roll please* the Harry Potter series. This series has been accused of promoting witchcraft/atheism, encouraging children to misbehave and make bad decisions, and being just plain frightening. (I’m not sure if trying to fly on a broom falls under “witchcraft” or “making a bad decision.”)

I personally thought the Harry Potter books were a fantastic collection of mythology and folklore interwoven into a story of an abused boy who makes something of himself despite not having a loving family environment and having to ward off attacks on his life every year. But, I was probably reading too far into the storyline and overlooked the details enticing children to the dark side with promises of owl-delivered invitations to a wizarding school.

I will be the first to admit that Harry and his friends do lie, break rules, and disrespect authority figures, but so do most school children (which is why I homeschool). I would also like to point out that if fictional characters always told the truth, followed the rules, and showed more respect for others, stories would be pretty boring, probably not go anywhere, and miss the point of creative writing.

The complaint that makes me laugh the most is the accusation that the Harry Potter series is too scary for children. Honestly, I think the news is the scariest thing I’ve read on any given date. At least when they read the books the kids can tell themselves “it’s just a story.” Of course, any sensible parent would read what their kids read, be aware of what is age-appropriate and realize that, in our world, children are no strangers to suffering and death.

My personal experience with the Harry Potter books includes reading the series, watching the movies, and collecting some of the memorabilia (which includes a sorting hat). I have thrown Harry Potter themed parties for organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters. I had craft tables where the kids could make their own wands with unicorn hair, dragon scales, and phoenix feathers. We sorted participants in the four houses of Hogwarts (by drawing names out of my sorting hat), gave prizes for trivia questions about the books, and shared a Harry Potter birthday cake. In return, our guests were asked to bring new books (any children’s books) that were donated to children of families who could not afford the luxury of reading material.

Some people would say that a kid reading anything without discretion or standards is not an accomplishment, but I say that kids reading books and sharing that love of reading with less fortunate children is something to be proud of.

March 24, 2010

YA Literature For Grown-ups

by thiszine

Recently, a Los Angeles Times article mentioned that more adults are reading YA (young adult) novels than in previous years and sales of YA books are one of the few bright spots in a floundering publishing industry. Over at Flavorwire, the editors picked their selection of the ten best YA books for adults.

Adults loving YA literature is nothing new, of course, as the number of adult Harry Potter fans shows. However, outside of massively successful children’s and YA literature that is deemed acceptable for older audiences despite its younger targets, literature for the young is often received with disdain by “serious” readers.

Well, “serious” readers have no fun in life and probably spend their time drinking unsweetened tea and munching on rice cakes. The dividing line between adult and YA literature is a wavy, inconstant one and, despite the supposedly recent trend, not new. While there are plenty of trashy and terribly written young adult books, there are an equal if not larger number of trashy and terribly written adult books. However, just as The Catcher in the Rye is beloved by teenagers and adults alike, so The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime or The Book Thief can transcend the too often limiting label of “young adult” that prevents excellent books by fine writers from falling into adult hands.

A smart bookstore will have YA books adults can enjoy and adult novels that adolescents can enjoy in both sections of their store. Further, a smart bookstore will have a well-read staff that isn’t limited by the demarcation lines of publishing house imprints. The same goes for smart libraries and librarians. Reading is for pleasure, not shame. Much of what prevents adult readers from seeking out and reading books otherwise categorized as “young adult” is the belief that if “it’s intended for someone younger than me, it must be beneath me.” Adult readers need to get over this limiting and fallacious belief because, not only is it silly, but it also shows a lack of sophistication about writing and books.

This is one of the reasons why this actively encourages book reviews about YA books. We understand that, while not all YA literature is superb and not all of it will engage or interest adult readers, there are plenty of YA titles that adults can and should enjoy without feeling ashamed, idiotic, or a less serious reader.

In this Issue #2, Rachel Heston Davis reviews Alison Croggon’s The Naming. In future issues, we look forward to bring our readers thoughtful reviews of adult and young adult literature. We feel it’s important to recognize writers outside of whatever publishing house imprints their books come from and without much regard to the average age of the target audience.

February 19, 2010

Uh-Oh! Deceased Author’s Estate Is Not J/K

by thiszine

The Associated Press writes of (yet another!) lawsuit against Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling and her publisher, Bloomsbury. Allegedly, Rowling stole the idea for Harry Potter from the work of the late Adrian Jacobs. At the time of the AP article, Rowling had no comment.

July 29, 2009

Link-o-Rama

by thiszine

At The Renegade Writer, read a recent post from a writer’s agent on how to pitch your book to an agent. It’s a helpful little bit of advice.

 

Jennifer Lawler, the same agent who maintains The Renegade Writer blog also keeps a personal blog. She talks about how writers don’t need to have crazy experiences to write. They just need, like anyone else with a job, to practice their craft. So if you’re not a wild adventurer taking notes as you bungee jump from the Golden Gate, don’t worry!

 

Over at Reality Check’s blog, there’s a nice little write up about the Harry Potter sex obsession as the little wizard meister grows up and, naturally, begins to take a fancy to something other than casting spells.

 

Finally, Daily Kos writes up a list of the 15 Must Haves for Third Wave Feminism. It’s worth taking a look at.

 

That’s it for this round. Want to pass a link along? Send it to us at thiszine@gmail.com. Be sure to put “Link-o-Rama” in the subject line (spammers like to send naughty links filled with all kinds of things and this is a measure of protection for us. Think of your subject line as a kind of prophylactic for our inbox.)