Saturday, August 07, 2010

"It could have happened"

For Adam's birthday, he has a party and all that but he and I always have our own celebration, too, and we always do the same thing. We go to the beach -- always, East Beach on Watch Hill (picture to come). The waves are huge and we swim. Then, we have dinner -- always, at the same restaurant. Dinner always ends with icecream, and then (it is his birthday after all) we walk to The Candy Shack, a store that sells nothing but, as Adam put it when he was six, "pure candy."

Adam begins Middle School at the end of August, and is looking forward to "more freedom." At his current school, "the teachers watch us every second."
"What if you have to go to the bathroom?"
"Someone stands in the hallway and watches us."

He also complained about reading. They "make us" read, and "don't let us" choose the books -- instead, they assign them. He said he was glad that they hadn't had to finish the book that was assigned at the end of May (because school ended). I asked him what he had read this year, and he said,
"I can't remember. I hated all of it. I only remember books I like."
Pressed, he said that there was a lot of fantasy. He "hates" fantasy.

I asked if he had ever read a book he enjoyed, and he said he was reading one now, a "non-fiction" book called ELEVEN. It's about a boy who lives with his grandfather and (while he's looking for presents) finds a newspaper article that someone with his name was kidnapped when he was three. So the boy thinks maybe the person he THINKS is his grandfather kidnapped him, and (helped by a girl in his class) decides to find out.
"This really happened?"
"WEll -- no, but it could have happened."

I said something like "That's fiction -- it's called realistic fiction," and he said that was the kind of book he liked.

I'm not claiming this is a trend or anything -- Adam is unusual in many ways; but lots of times I think all kids now want to read is YA or fantasy, and it's enormously reassuring to me that there are children who like books about things that could have happened -- and that those events are so real to them that they count as non-fiction.

And at the risk of ruining the punchline: if any teachers are reading this, is is true that teachers assign only ONE book? And if it is, couldn't there be a list, with books from different genres on it?


Charlotte said...

Oh, I love Eleven very very much myself! It was my favorite non-fantasy of the year it came out.

I just asked my fifth grader if they are ever told what book to read, and they aren't...Poor Adam.

Libby Koponen said...

I ordered it -- I loved NORI RYAN"S SONG by the same author. And thanks for telling me that this isn't a universal custom (assigning the books for their at=home reading). Poor Adam is right!