How did you develop a love for reading?
Ask George Saunders, Barry Hannah, or Andrea Barrett. For each of these writers, their love for reading was realized in a K-12 classroom. For Maya Angelou, it’s thanks in part to Miss Kirwin, a “brilliant teacher” at the George Washington High School in San Francisco. For John McPhee, it’s thanks in part to Olive McKee, an English teacher he had for three years. Of course, you don’t have to look to lauded authors. Most readers, writers, and book-lovers can point you to a moment in their educational journeys where a love for reading was inspired in them by a passionate K-12 teacher.
However, the ability of schools and teachers to foster a love for reading in students is under assault in today’s educational climate. We live in a time of high-stakes accountability, where quantifiable metrics, namely standardized test scores, are used to judge students, teachers, and schools. Now, we are faced with the Common Core, new standards in Math and English Language Arts that are sweeping the nation. Incentivized by billions in federal grant dollars, 45 states are adopting the Common Core, with some states rolling out their implementations over the last two school years and other states waiting until next school year.
Hemingway’s writing desk in Key West
She says what I have done so far isn’t in the least what I was wanted to do. I am asked to tell the story of the Diamond, and, instead of that, I have been telling the story of my own self. Curious, and quite beyond me to account for. I wonder whether the gentlemen who make a business and a living out of writing books, ever find their own selves getting in the way of their subjects, like me?
— Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone
In honor of Banned Books Week, LARB wants to know: Out of all the books that have been banned or challenged in the 21st century, from To Kill a Mockingbird to the Twilight Saga, which of those controversial tomes is your personal favorite?
For example, Catch-22 by Joseph Heller is one of our favorites — Heller’s surrealistic, cynical satire on wartime bureaucracy was banned in Strongsville, Ohio and challenged in both Dallas, Texas and Snoqualmie, Washington for its use of vulgar language. What gives this American classic its place of honor on our bookshelves is Heller’s free-wheeling style and his outlandishly offbeat cast of characters, as he accuses modern life of being completely insane.
Check here for 2013’s most banned and challenged books, and let us know! Tell us in a reblog or in the answer box, and we’ll post the answers we like best on Sunday evening.
So, which banned or challenged book is your favorite, and why?
Tonight is the last night of Banned Books Week and we’ve received some great answers so far, so keep them coming!
My favorite is Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian. The story of Junior’s first year in high school, in a white high school off the rez, is full of boyhood on the verge of manhood, of striving despite dire poverty, of family love that always breaks your heart and of true friendship.
Jonathan Lethem (via mttbll)
Will and Sally searched for adventure together nearly every day. They knew exactly what adventure looked like because of the storybooks Will read. Giants. Monsters. Cake. That was what the knights in the storybooks always found on their adventures.
Well, Will had added the cake part himself, but it really did belong in any good adventure.
— Lisa Graff, A Tangle of Knots
Someone who thinks of possessing a fountain made of a winged baby with water shooting out of its mouth must not have too many troubles.
— Anne Ursu, The Real Boy (a magical MG novel coming out in September 2013)
Edinburgh’s latest whodunnit wasn’t written by Ian Rankin. The Scottish capital’s mysterious book sculptor has struck again. Last summer, she started anonymously leaving paper sculptures at literary locations around the city to promote free access to libraries, museums, and galleries. The latest artwork arrived at the Edinburgh Unesco City of Literature Trust and includes paper feather wings, a safety helmet, and goggles “to provide some protection throughout journey.”
She had made herself useful in the small ways that help to oil the wheels of daily life.
— Sally Vickers, The Cleaner of Chartres
"The important events in our lives are always the result of a sequence of tiny details. The thought made him feel slightly dizzy — or was it the fact that he’d drunk a whole bottle of Pouilly-Fuisse?
— The President’s Hat by Antoine Laurain