A Lasting Love of Reading

The best thing about summer with young kids is the library’s reading program. PRIZES FOR READING! It’s like being rewarded for breathing!   Where the Wild Things Are quote

Yesterday I walked Hudson and Jolie to the library and signed them up for the program, which doesn’t even officially start until tomorrow but WE WILL BE READY. We’re like racers staggered on the track, waiting for the starter pistol to be fired.

I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t love books. English was always my favorite subject and I independently read much more than the required book list.

A few months ago Madison told me her English class was starting “The Great Gatsby,” one of my favorite classics. I was so excited and thought surely she’d love it like I do.

THEN CAME THE FUN-KILLING ASSIGNED ESSAY QUESTIONS.

  • Examine the different automobiles and discuss what they might symbolize.
  • Defend or refute Nick as an unreliable narrator.
  • Would George have been able to transcend his class and circumstances and rise above the ashes?
  • How does The Great Gatsby resemble a Greek tragedy?
  • Provide two examples from the text that represents a similarity in Fitzgerald’s life and explain their relevance to the author’s life.
  • What, if any, are the similarities between the 1920s American society and the 21st century American society with regard to materialism?

ANSWER IN COMPLETE SENTENCES!! QUOTE PROPERLY FROM THE TEXT!!

SYMBOLISM SYMBOLISM SYMBOLISM!!!

Yes, yes, I know. The Great Gatsby has depth beyond its surface and it’s worthy of consideration. But sometimes I think we kill any chance of a teenager’s enjoyment of the story by beating them over the head with the symbolism of the eyes in Dr. T.J. Eckleburg’s billboard.

Lost in all of the analysis is some of the most beautiful words ever penned. No one has written so eloquently and memorably about someone’s voice as Fitzgerald did about Daisy Buchanan:

The Great Gatsby quote

And this little gem that makes poetry out of prose:

Great Gatsby quote
If a student is truly disinterested, it’s hard to engage them but sometimes it’s the academic approach itself that spoils the enjoyment of great literature. It’s unfortunate and it concerns me about Hudson and Jolie. They’re just discovering Ameilia Bedilia. Ramona Quimby and The B.F.G. are still ahead. That’s to say nothing of Harry Potter’s adventures at Hogwarts awaiting them.

I don’t want tests and book reports to diminish their love of stories. When they’re older there will be the mystery of Donna Tartt, the horror of Marisha Pessl, the humor of Adam Langer, and the suspense of Gillian Flynn. As an adult, I think, discovering the worlds between the covers of a good book is prize enough.

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