Saturday, 15 March 2008

The Blog Post that Evolved From a Comment

I started writing this as a reply to Julie's and Duckie's comments about the lamentability of trash writing for small boys...

I know, it's the literature snob in me.... something about "surely you don't have get right down to the level of the 7 year old to get them to be interested". But then I can't remember what I was reading at 7, probably patronising little books about Dick and Jane. And was (and still am) a girl. I don't remember "learning to read". I vaguely remember the Ladybird series of readers. The ones D gets from school are better from the patronising point of view, but no more interesting. Very basic reference/non-fiction type books, or things with ultra simple story lines. Therein lies the challenge, how to keep the reader's interest while aiming at the correct reading level. Things happen in the Captain Underpants books, and that is good. I'm not sure how great his comprehension is though. I quizzed him occasionally on the events of the book as he was going, and got an "I can't remember". But If I asked him "why do you think they did/said that?" I got a better result, so he's clearly getting something out of it.

There's a way in which it's peer pressure that's got him to read them too. Some of his peer group (I hesitate to refer to these ones as 'friends') have them read to them at home, and are right into the toilet humour mentality, so it's part of D'Arcy trying to fit in with the 'in' crowd. Similarly we got the Scholastic Book Club forms the other day. The house rule is that D can get something from the club, but it has to be primarily a book (the Beloved and I refer to it as 'plastic crap club') and what he wanted was a set of Yu-Gi-Oh books. He knew to play his cards right this time. Last book club he got nothing, as when we sat down to look at the catalogue we had a fight which ended with D'Arcy saying "why does it always have to be fucking books?!?!?" and me chucking the catalogue in the recycling. So this time, he said "I know I need to only look at the books" and argued well for these. He's become very interested in cartoon-based trading cards. We use Pokemon cards as an incentive scheme for solo sleeping, but even they aren't totally reliable so he ends up on the floor in our room fairly often, and his card collection isn't growing as he'd like it to.

9 comments:

Julie said...

I remember very well what I was reading at age 7: Nancy Drew books. Those books are hardly paragons of great writing but at least they are grammatically correct, and I know they expanded my vocabulary quite a bit. The problem I have with Captain Underpants is not so much that they cater to a 7yo boy mentality but that they contain deliberate spelling & grammar errors.

On the other hand, anything that gets kids (7yo boys especially) interested in reading is fine with me.

Mummy/Crit said...

Yeah, the 'informal'spelling stuff was grating a bit on me. I didn't start with Nancy Drew until I was about 10 or 11, which is when most of my memorable reading happened I think. I should ask my mum... there is a photo of me reading at my dad's house, but again I'm about the same age. In it I am reading a book called 'The Superlative Horse' which was a Chinese tale, and a bit below my reading level, but it was all I had at his house.

Ampersand Duck said...

I'm glad to hear someone else bitching about the book club forms. We also have a rule that he can only order books, and the subclause is that they can't be tv or movie merchandising. Makes choices very slim...

Ampersand Duck said...

mind you, he does end up buying the Star Wars books, because he has a very persuasive argument about his Star Wars collection (thank you The Collectors!)

Mummy/Crit said...

Plastic Crap Club is our nemesis... I don't know if it's possible to do anything about it.

ThirdCat said...

"why does it have to be fucking books"...sorry, but that has really made me laugh

with book club, about twice a year, I say "all right, you can choose one, and I'll choose one" and yes, it has to be a fucking book

tashi is still a hit here (he's annoying, but he knows his grammar)

Jay said...

Oh gosh, I remember captain underpants - I used to read it to the kid I babysat....I do wonder how he's getting on. I was more a baby sitter's club girl myself.

Mummy/Crit said...

3C D'Arcy has always been a one for the language. Somewhere in my archives there is a very early post about the staff at childcare concernedly approaching me and D's dad saying "we've noticed that D'Arcy seems to be saying "fucking hell" a lot... I'll look out for Tashi I think.

Jay yeah, it would be interesting to see how kids raised on Captain Underpants turn out. Let me know if you find him!!

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