Monday, December 10, 2007

Some of my best friends are books, Halstead

The Able and Talented coordinator sent me a copy of this book (subtitled Guiding Gifted Readers from Preschool to High School), so I felt compelled to read it.

I am the mother of three identified A&T students. I was a bright student myself. So I have trouble taking the advice of this book. I fall into the category of bad librarians doing a disservice for these students: "Some say "It doesn't matter what they read, as long as they're reading." But if we apply this attitude to children who have the potential to become serious readers acquainted with books of substance and literary value, then we do our children a disservice."

Huh. Considering how utterly boring many of the books mentioned in this tome are, I would argue that guiding their reading in this way would do them a disservice. Also, this volume is very light on newer books. Really, there have been other books written since Harriet the Spy.

The reason I react so viscerally to this issue is that I was given the luxury of choosing my own reading material, and it was all over the map. Yes, I read Caddie Woodlawn and The Phantom Tollbooth. But I also read Beanie Malone and a lot of dreadful schlock. Halstead is very big on reading as a way to cope with life. If that is the case, gifted readers SHOULD be reading what their peers are reading, especially the dreadful schlock. It gives them something to connect with.

My 8th grade daughter, who read every Animorph book she could find, is now on an Alcott binge. My 6th grader is reading The Lost Years of Merlin. My 4th grade reluctant reader finished Things Not Seen, and is complaining her way through some nonfiction because she is "supposed" to read it. They will all survive.


  1. My elder son is labled A&T, though he's chosen this year not to participate in the "pull-out" programs at school (he doesn't like missing classes).

    He DEVOURS books, and while I occasionally FORCE him to read something over the summer (oh, I'm so mean; A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is just horrible to have to read, I know, I know), I also generally let him read what he wants to read. Thus, he's read the Redwall series repeatedly (probably at least 5 times through... at least).

    I agree: "guiding" (forcing) kids to read books they'll find boring isn't a good option. Yeah, he read A Tree... and once he was into it, I heard no mumbling or complaints at all -- he LIKED it. But I wouldn't make him read something I felt "too lofty" for him. I've mentioned he should read "Dracula" -- the original, but perhaps he should listen to the unabridged audio book -- it was wonderful and would be more likely to draw him into the story. So many "good books" are, in fact, quite dry for kids to read.

    My favorite book list site(s):




    (no spaces/returns -- it wasn't letting me put the url in as one line)

    I try to read these myself... and then, should I find something interesting, I'll leave it around the house in hopes one of the boys (probably the elder) will pick it up. Sometimes it works...


    Thanks again for all your insights to YA books!


  2. Hi, Ms. Yingling

    Jumped over here from Jen Robinson's blog. I just posted a piece on a similar topic at my own blog, off one that Alix Flinn did.

    I agree with the point you make, that gifted kids should read the same things their peers are reading. Mental acumen is not the same as emotional experience.

    I also agree that so many of those pieces of Great Lit-Ra-Chure are soooo boring! I don't think I'm a bad librarian for giving a kid Alex Rider instead of The Brothers Karamazov, because odds are he'll actually read Alex Rider. If we only give kids Brussels sprouts, (and tell them they should like it) they're not going to want to eat. Let 'em eat cake.