Thursday, December 21, 2006

Yet Another Book List Book That I Want, And General Thoughts Twaddle and Book List Books

I brought up a topic on our local homeschool chat list about matching books for independent reading to children when the child is reading above their grade level.

Two mothers highly praised this book: "Some Of My Best Friends Are Books: Guiding Gifted Readers From Preschool to High School" by Judith Wynn Halstead.

I want this book!

I put it on my wish list on so perhaps I will get it for 'free'.

In the mean time...
Last night I was in my public library returning some items that were due and I wanted to see if they had the book in their collection. However, I forgot the title of the book. I asked a Librarian and she had never heard of the book. The Director was questioned and she spoke to me and she said she never heard of the book either. The Librarian was looking online to see if she could find it. Then I remembered part of the title and we found the book. The Director was happy to hear of this book and said that she was about to put an order in and she was adding it to the list of books that would be purchased. Hooray! I hope this book helps other people, too.

They put me down as the first person to borrow the book when it arrives.

After browsing it I’ll decide if this is a “must have”. I am guessing that it will be. If so then Amazon, here I come!

Thoughts on book list books...
The online discussion was interesting as I shared a link to one mother’s list for children who are reading five grades above their level. When I read the lists for ages 5 and 6 I was happy and pleased. Some other mothers protested at the books suggested for older children. Later I checked and she was recommending "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" for 8 year old's. While I personally enjoyed that book I don't think it is appropriate for an 8year old nor should it be a child's early introduction to what autism is. I didn't find the book "ha ha" funny at all and wonder if an 8 year old would (perhaps they would).

Then the whole discussion turned into that challenging issue of what one child finds too heavy to handle vs. another family’s value system vs. another family’s preference to avoid fantasy books or magic themes and so on. It can be hard to take book recommendations from other people unless one or both of these things take place:

1. You know the bias, tastes, and/or religious values of the book list compiler and you know what they would like and not like and if those are in alignment with yours

2. The book list compiler provides enough information on the topics that you want to know about so that you can make your own judgment. For example if they tell if the book contains use of drugs, alcohol, romance, dating, sex, rape, violent crimes, magic, fantasy, (and on and on).

Twaddle vs. Living Books
Some book list books are just lists while others give a paragraph of text praising the book. Despite that I still am surprised sometimes at high praise for what I consider to be junk. Other times the subject matter of a book is not one that clicks with a certain child, while other books are loved by some children and not enjoyed by others.

One example of a “junk book” (also known as ‘twaddle’, the opposite of which I call ‘living books’) is a picture book I picked up last night, it was in like-new condition and for sale at my library’s used book sale (an ongoing sale with a small number of books). The book is by a popular author whose other books I like. I paid 50 cents for the book and figured if it stunk I’d swap it on Well upon reading it to myself, I hated the book and decided I would not read it to my children. Needless to say this morning I listed it on

I just checked Amazon and it has a 5 star review average with a small number of parent-reviews, all who love the book. The professional reviewers were careful to summarize the books’ content but not to make any opinion or value judgment on the content of the book which if you realize that, can make a difference as someone was paid to write that review. If the goal is to help push book sales then it is best to just summarize it and to find something good to say about it even if that has nothing to do with the storyline (as these did).

My not liking that book also indicates I am a picky person when it comes to books. I think there are just so many children’s books out there that are fantastic that we don’t have time to read them all, so why bother spending time on the sub-par? I tolerate some books if some other aspect is good such as stellar illustrations or if it covers a topic that is hard to find in a children’s book. Sometimes I’ll favor one book for the wonderful text and story and content yet use another book for the superior illustrations or photographs (even if it has terrible text). What I do is read both to my children or just use one for illustrations and skip all the text in that one. However if the book glamorizes or makes a joke or downplays of something that I consider to be a negative behavior in children I avoid it as I don’t want my children exposed to anything that would encourage a bad behavior, sorry. I have enough parenting challenges without reading books to my children that will put new ideas into their heads or make that behavior seem acceptable by other adults.

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1 comment:

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Hi! Just wanted to let you know that I have found Judith Wynn Halstead's book a great book for finding good books for kids. The book is recommended for parents and teachers of gifted kids (two grade levels above expected) so that has to be considered in determining what is appropriate at what age.