Friday, July 23, 2010

Meanwhile, in Bizarroworld...

I saw the most amazing thing on TeeWee yesterday morning. The Today Show had a bit featuring experts offering advice to help your kids avoid the "summer reading slump".

The summer what huh? I mean, you get a lot more reading done in summer as a kid, because you don't have to shield The Two Towers or To Your Scattered Bodies Go behind your algebra textbook; you can read them right out in the open while sprawled across your bed like a decent human being.

My favorite part was where they suggested to parents that they might want to bring books along on car trips. This is so bizarre to me; it's like suggesting that you might want to bring along air. Is there some other thing kids do on long highway drives besides read?


charles said...

They watch DVDs on the little screens that come with the minivan. What a waste.

doubletrouble said...

You're showing your years here lady.

Kids have the attention span of a gnat, & while that's always been true, it appears the "modern" way to placate said gnatism is to bombard them w/electronic entertainment.
Have you seen the backseat area of newer vehicles? Looks more like a family entertainment center of a few years ago.

Sadly, I think the imagination & thought provided by a book is slipping away.

Robb Allen said...

My oldest goes to the library weekly. I think last week she ended up with 14 books. 4 of which were read by the time she got home.

She goes to friends' houses and instantly looks for any books they might have that she's not read yet.

I was never (and still am not) a voracious reader. That my daughter isn't going to follow in my footsteps is a wonderful thing.

Rob K said...

Yep, dvd systems, Nintendo's portable gaming systems, texting on the cellphone, etc. etc. etc.

I hate getting stuck behind some mini-van playing a movie. It's really distracting.

CalvinsMom said...

My eldest reads in the car (and on the potty, and even int he shower); the six-year-old will power-chunder if he reads road signs. I'm hoping he grows out of it.

Alan said...

To Your Scattered Bodies go was behind the chemistry book. I think it was Ringworld that was behind algebra.

Anonymous said...

That's because your a reader. In our family both parents and 50% of the kids were always reading something. I have books from my great grandfather collection.

One big rule was never disturb Dad when he was reading. Only bad things would happen to you.

On the other side I had a friend who had to hide books around the house. If she got caught reading she was given something "useful to do".


RevolverRob said...

Americans still take long road trips? I thought that was going away. I never could read on road trips, it makes me sick as a dog. I can read on airplanes but only during the flight, during take off and landing I have to stow the book or lose my lunch.

Electronic entertainment is definitely the choice for most parents out there. It requires less effort overall and those DVDs just aren't as heavy as books.

Summer IS my reading time though, I've read more books this summer than over the course of the semester. Don't get me wrong, I read everyday, but typically my reading during the semester is dominated by articles, books, and notes related to my research and coursework. I think about when I was a kid, I read four or six books a week. These days, I'm lucky to read one or two a month.


Lazy Bike Commuter said...

Very much what everyone else said. When I used to be an assistant instructor at a kung fu school, the kids who were not currnetly in class would have their faces glued to the screen of their Nintendo DSes. It made me a bit sad.

I too miss school, I used to average 100 pages a day of hard sci fi, now I read much less in the way of books. I think that blogs and the internets are to blame--by the time I catch up on my reading list, there's not much time left for anything else.

El Capitan said...

You're not an accomplished family road-tripper until you can simultaneously read a book, sing along with the parents, play concurrent games of Windmill, Slugbug & License Plates and not spill your Super Gonzo Gulp on the dog...

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

I get nauseous reading while in a car. It made car trips murder.

D.W. Drang said...

My parents' quandary was always "How to get D.W. to put down the book and go do something active."

Breda said...

Here's something horrifying for you - 11th grade honors students have been coming in to the library, getting their books for summer reading. One of the authors that was assigned? John Grisham. I guess it's a step up from previous years (Dan Brown, James Patterson, blargh)

Tam said...

John Grisham? Ugh.

Watch, next year it'll be Danielle Steel!

Anonymous said...

Heh. Modern kids.

I'm 56, a physician, own over 1000 linear feet of books (of all kinds), am a member of Amazon Prime, and am at my local library so much they joke about giving me my own parking space....

Kids read today? Who knew?

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

"My parents' quandary was always "How to get D.W. to put down the book and go do something active."

Same here. I've been known to wander around the house reading a book in one hand as I'm doing other things (get food, beverages, clean, etc.). It always drove my parents nuts (and they're both voracious readers, too) because it always looked like I wasn't actually paying attention to where I was going, but I never tripped or ran into anything.

It's my parents' fault, of course. They taught me to read at about 3-4 years old (before I was even in pre-school), and I've never stopped.

Right now I need two things - more bookshelves, and somewhere to put them.

wv: dishus - I never did the dishus while reading, because the book would get wet if I did.

Anonymous said...

As a disgruntled member of the current generation, I'll say with confidence that you can barely get kids to read anything elementery school teachers had to beg people to read, even going so far as to allow book reports (meaning 3 poorly written sentances) on stuff like magazine articles.

But even that is no use cause books be GAY, yo!

(FWIW, I don't blame videogames. I had all 150 fucking pokemon and I still managed to read books...blaming videogames is for people who can't admit that kids are stupid)

CTone said...

How could anyone NOT want to read The Two Towers? That's the best one!

Michael said...

Wow, small world. I actually did read the Riverworld series in high school.... in class. Got busted all the time for that.

dwightbrown said...

Tam: "Is there some other thing kids do on long highway drives besides read?"

I was constantly being nagged to "look at the scenery". "Look. Cows. Look. More cows. Look. Trees. Look. More trees."

CTone: "How could anyone NOT want to read The Two Towers?"

I've never been able to get more than about 150 pages into *Fellowship* (and I have made more than Tolkien efforts to read the trilogy). I've pretty much made up my mind that LotR is not my cup of tea.

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

"I've never been able to get more than about 150 pages into *Fellowship* (and I have made more than Tolkien efforts to read the trilogy)."


Bad puns and heresy in the same sentence! Burn him!!


BobG said...

You haven't been around kids much lately, Tam.
Most of them I've seen would rather take a beating then crack the pages on a book, unless it's a comic book. The real young ones will sit in front of a TV watching Spongebob for hours, or playing a Gameboy.
The older ones will text for unbelievably long periods of time, and cannot seem to handle anything that involves NOT interacting with all their friends.
The common theme I've noticed about a lot of today's youth is that when they are bored, they expect to be entertained; the idea of entertaining themselves seems foreign to far too many of them.
Just my opinion.

Tam said...

Anon 11:54,

It's not like I was born in the stone age, or anything; hand-held electronic games were around when I was still in grade school.

Justthisguy said...

I didn't even have to hide "Earthlight". My fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Cooper, sang next to me in the choir at church, and liked me. (I was a soprano then.)

She didn't care, seeing that I got A grades anyway.

LabRat said...

I'm another skeptical of blaming video games; it seems like no matter what the date is on what I'm reading, there's mention made of trying to get the kids to read, or of adults buying books for decoration, or of someone being made fun of for having their nose in a book. I think the portion of the population that finds joy in books has never been dominant, though it certainly will be here in the "reading and writing for fun" blogosphere.

I never did have the attention span to get all 150 Pokemon, but Nintendo never put a dent in my reading. Car trips did, though; I was fine when I was younger, but as I grew carsickness would set in. After that I was just held hostage to whatever my dad's choice in book on tapes was that year, which is how I wound up trapped with Shelby Foote for twenty hours when I was fourteen. On the bright side I got effortless As in history the subsequent year when we covered the American civil war.

Mark Alger said...

I used to do that reading all the books in the attic sprawled across my bed routine. My mom used to kick me out of the house. So I'd take a stack of paperbacks and go climb the ash tree in the back yard. Sneak back in for more when I ran out.


reflectoscope said...

That kid eating french fries and reading whatever it was? That wasn't I, but it could have been. Could be, in fact. I go nuts if I have to eat without something to read.


D.W. Drang said...

no matter what the date is on what I'm reading, there's mention made of ... adults buying books for decoration
One of the few parts I remember of thingy, they made us read it in High School, what'shisface Fitzgerald, "The Great Gatsby."
"All these books, none of them ever opened." (I think the actual phrase was "none of the pages are cut.")
being made to read classics gave me sympathy for those who never read anything--briefly.

Anonymous said...

Crap. Thanks a lot! Now I had to buy Riverworld for, what, the third time? Sheesh!

Ed Foster said...

Nailed 200+ books one summer, the year after I had read the encyclopedia. All my kids are rabid readers, but the grandchildren text, and legitimately become hysterical if the evil little machine is taken away. Sic Transit Impestivus.

Anonymous said...

"It's not like I was born in the stone age, or anything; hand-held electronic games were around when I was still in grade school."

I didn't think you were that old...I was just throwing out that comment on behalf of people who want to use video games as a general purpose scapegoat when kids either mess up somehow or turn into sedentary vegetables. As a kid I was constantly infuriated at nosy adults who lacked the common sense to be able to find the on/off switch on my gameboy but would still take pride in telling me how playing it would rot my brain out.

@LabRat: 150 pokemon was easy for me...I only collected about 40 myself, the rest I got with a link cable in the school lunchroom back when pretty much everybody under the age of 16 was playing those games. I lost my copy in the woods somehwhere...guess that's the price a boy must pay for getting off the couch.

Steve Skubinna said...

My Mom got carsick if she wasn't looking out the window, so my reading always made her a bit queasy. Then one day she remarked to my Dad "Why is it that Steve's always reading, but he's usually the first one to spot anything interesting outside?"

After that she never expressed worry about my books in the car. Although I do wonder how it was that I was usually the first one to spot deer, or interesting structures, or whatever. Good peripheral vision, maybe?

Anonymous said...

Kid's only want to do three things on long road trips. Eat, pee, and poop. If it's over 150 miles, add 15 minutes per child.

Will said...

Robb Alan:
14 library books/week was my minimum standard. When I moved to a new library, I would start at "A" in each category, and look for fresh books.(moved a lot)

Ok, people...well, readers :-) What is the oddest or most unusual place you have read a book?
Me: Pillion of a motorcycle going north on I-95. Paperback. Somewhere around Georgia/the Carolinas, I think. Boring scenery. (my bike broke-had it crated and shipped home)
The bike? '71 750 Norton Hi-Rider, converted to a Fastback (both of them)

I'll pretty much read anywhere the book won't get damaged.

wv: chily... the ride south sure was!

David said...

When I was in 6th grade my grammar teacher caught me reading a Tarzan book that I had hidden in my Grammar text book. She confiscated my book and assigned me an hour of detention that afternoon.

During my detention she gave me a copy of Asimov's Caves of Steel. She said "If you are going to ignore me in class at least read something better than Burroughs." Then she admonished me to keep the book hidden, so my fellow students wouldn't see it and think they could ignore her in class also.

When I finished the Caves of Steel and each subsequent book she allowed me to swap it for another one from her personal library.

Anonymous said...

Oddest place to read? Perched on the top step of King Air parked at Lamar CO or St Francis KS or Chadron NE or Beaver OK waiting for the ambulance to come back with my crew and the patient.

I can't read in cars, never could. And I've noticed that the ability to concentrate seems to be declining with age. I'm in my late 30s and some of the graduate students in their mid 20s have trouble finishing the assigned reading. The undergrads more so. What's missing is the ability to follow an idea through the author's argument. Is this because of how the internet presents information? Because of the eye-motion required to play video games? Beats me.


Strings said...

I actually broke down and bought an ebook reader (one of the Sony's, based on Marko's endorsement), so that I could carry more books with me while taking care of whatever.

Used to ALWAYS have a book at hand, although I'm another who can't read in a moving vehicle.

Used to get yelled at in elementary school, because I wanted to sit in the library and read during recess.

RM1(SS) (ret) said...

Used to get odd looks from people when I was reading whilst walking home from the library. Don't know if I gor funny looks when I was reading whilst riding my bike because my attention was entirely taken up by the book and the need to watch where I was going - no time to spare for looking at other people. (Had a really nice bike - I could go for miles, including turning corners, without needing to touch the handlebars.)

My 14-year-old reads almost as much as I did at that age, though she has a more limited range - where I would read six books, she'll read the same book six times. She's started branching out more, though; her current book is an omnibus of six or seven H G Wells novels. I'm going to try her on Jules Verne next....

Her sister doesn't read as much, but she's still a reader.

WV: borsau - The porcine (or ursine) equivalent of a ramewe or a buckdoe.