Category Archives: Literature

Kids & Reading

It’s no shocker that kids who read do better in school – and not just in their English classes. In fact, the American Council on Education, as restated on Do Something, says that “53% of 4th graders admitted to reading recreationally ‘almost every day,’ while only 20% of 8th graders could say the same.”

Think about that. Just over half of young readers read for fun, while just four short years later the numbers drop over 25%. What would cause something like that?

It could be that the school systems become harder, kids growing up just have less of an interest because it’s “not cool,” or some other factor that prevents them from reading.

According to the Literacy Project Foundation, “Illiteracy has become such a serious problem in our country [the United States] that 44 million adults are now unable to read a simple story to their children.” I would be so sad if I couldn’t read to my child when I have one. Stories bring to life so many adventures and create vivid imaginations that can take many children to places they’ve never been – especially in their playtime.

Reading not only brings up literacy and allows children to succeed well into their adult years, including, but not limited to, higher education, attaining a career, and keeping out of jail. Yes, jail. It’s a scary fact (see sources linked above), but it’s true that having the ability to read above a certain level can actually help to enhance a child’s future rather than hinder it.

If you live in the United States (and other places in the world), we have this wonderful place called the library. Many larger cities have their own, as well as many schools, and so allowing children to take advantage of reading free books (so long as they have a library card and no late fees to pay off) is well worth the trade off of having a child who is happy from reading. For a list of public libraries by state, check out this link.

When picking out a book for a child, or allowing them to choose on their own, simply think of their interests: do they like animals? Superheroes? Trains? There are so many wide varieties of books to choose from that they will never be bored of it. I know that, personally, when I walked into Barnes & Noble or my local library at a young age and gravitated toward the children’s section, I was always swept away at the amazing amounts of books and the many, many different kinds I could choose from. I personally enjoyed puzzle books and animal books, but your child may enjoy books like Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl, or any other kind of book.

For young readers under the age of eight, I recommend books like Stellaluna, Verdi, and Eloise.

For young readers age eight to thirteen, I recommend books like Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl, and really anything from this list.

But reading doesn’t have to be limited to those kinds of books. Let a child dip their toes into some more mature reads (obviously not too mature, depending on their age) and see if they can handle the language and structure. It can be a challenge, but sometimes that’s just what they need.

So what do you think about the importance of reading for a child? Do you think it’s worth it to have someone who enjoys having a big imagination, a broader vocabulary, and a sense of adventure? Sure, reading doesn’t necessarily mean all these things will happen (except the broader vocabulary part), but it still does allow them to find more dreams in the world than what may seem to be out there. We all know reality can be a harsh place to live in, so why not allow them to dream for just a little bit longer?

Do you think it’s important for kids to read? What would you recommend to a child under the age of 12? Do you remember what you read as a kid? Let me know in the comments!

Advertisements

Critically Analyzing Literature

Sounds difficult, right? To critically analyze something you have to be able to break down to the core of it and take it apart piece by piece, putting it back together in a way that’s tangible and understandable while still making your point.

Complicated, I know.

But critically analyzing literature isn’t as difficult as it may seem. Of course you’ll stumble and fall at the beginning, but that isn’t to say you won’t improve as you advance in the ways in which you look at it.

Let’s take Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” for example. I had to critically analyze her book a couple of years ago, and I had no idea what that meant! From what I remember I understood that it wasn’t the monster’s fault for the positions he was put in because he sought out human companionship, but rather it was Frankenstein’s fault for bringing him to life in the first place – in fact, the monster blamed him for it!

When you critically analyze a piece of literature, don’t just look on the surface or what’s obvious about the piece; take the time to really dig down and find the hidden meanings behind the words.

If you look at, say, “Divergent” by Veronica Roth, you will find the hidden places where God, and some lessons learned in the Bible, are mentioned because she is a Christian, herself. Or if you look at “Sense and Sensibility” by Jane Austen you might discover the lies behind the way some characters acted and portrayed themselves, as well as find that that was really how that certain section of society really acted. It’s all a matter of perspective, and you won’t necessarily be wrong about it.

There are several methods to analyzing literature, such as marking around certain areas that stand out and doing research in online scholarly journals on the same subject or line, or working with someone who knows more on the subject than you do, etc. There are countless ways to analyze, but you also have to have the mind for it, i.e. you have to be willing to look deeper into the story than just what’s at the surface.

But this also isn’t to say that you absolutely can’t get off with just writing down your own opinions, oh no. You have to do the research behind it. Who else wrote about the subject? Are they big names in reputable journals or are they just found on easy-access websites with no citations or anything of the like? It’s about knowing what you’re looking for, and oftentimes that can be a difficult thing to do.

Have you ever had to critically analyze a piece of literature? If so, what was it and how did you go about doing it? Let me know in the comments below!

For the Love of Reading

Reading is a gateway to a world unlike any other. It can be set in reality or Mars. It can be a great way to de-stress from a long, hard day, or a way to just have some fun. It’s entirely up to you on how you view it.

But why is reading so great?

Let me first start by saying why I love it: it helps me to get away. I am a very imaginative person, and so to be able to have a way to channel that imaginative and creative side of me into something other than drawing is relaxing and fun for me.

I especially enjoy young adult literature. There’s a sense of innocence in many of the books, but there’s also a deep sense of self and adventure in many of the novels I have read. It’s nice to be able to read books about teens and young adults that can be so relatable, and yet some reach the very stretches of the imagination.

Not only that, but I have read manga, romance, fiction, historical, fantasy/sci-fi, religious, and many subcategories within those categories. There’s a whole range of genres of books that are accessible to those that are willing to read – so go out and pick up a book!

When reading I often put myself into the hero or heroine’s shoes, and so when some actions happen I react appropriately to those situations, such as when a romantic scene is happening: I tend to get butterflies. Or when someone is pissing off the main character I start getting pissed off. It’s a way for me to drop whatever is bothering me that day and just let go of it all.

So what can you do to start loving to read more?

  • Pick up a book! It’s not going to kill you to go to the bookstore, the library, or even online at Amazon or Barnes and Noble and buy an e-book.
  • Listen to an audiobook. I had a classmate that fell in love with reading again because of audiobooks. Some of the people who read it don’t sound great, but try to enjoy the story regardless.
  • Start or join a book club. What better way to read than being forced to meet up with people to discuss a book at length? Search around for local book clubs or start your own!
  • Pick up books with stories that interest you. It sounds like a “well, duh” answer, but we are often forced to read books through school that we otherwise didn’t enjoy, or even hate, so try to go for a genre or type of story that you’re interested in, such as dystopian societies or dragons or romance.
  • Find someone to read with you. This is similar to the book club idea, but it’s not exactly the same thing. Find a friend or someone close to you who will be willing to read a book along with you so you have someone to discuss every intimate detail with. It can be a life saver when you’ve just read something you love and need to talk about until your throat runs dry. Also try online communities where you’ll get even more people who will enjoy it with you!

The possibilities are endless. Reading isn’t just for school or something that has to be a chore, as many younger people, and sometimes even older people, find it to be. It’s fun, exhilarating, and completely worth it.

Take the time to make a list of your likes and dislikes in a book, then go searching for some! Always start off at your local library if you’re uncertain that you might like a book enough to buy it. The books are free and the librarians are often very happy to help with any questions you may have.

So how about it? Do you love reading or think you’ll be able to?

 

What are some of your favorite types of books? Why do you love to read? Let me know in the comments!

Literature Classes: Pros and Cons

As I’m nearing the end of my undergraduate career, I figured that I would give my own view and take on how some types of classes are and how they can impact you if you’re thinking of becoming an English major, or are one. Let me first talk about literature classes and the pros and cons behind them.

Literature classes are a major art of being an English major, even if you’re concentration is in Professional Writing. The culture, the texts, and even the classroom discussion are integral parts of what it can mean to truly be an English major.

In my university there are two main types of literature classes available to students: British and American. The classes are broken up into time frame, because there are typically a lot of pieces of literature in a given class, and so to be able to break up the amount of time that has to be covered is actually very useful.

There are other types of literature classes, such as African-American, Women’s, World, Children’s, Jewish American, Caribbean, and, of course, Shakespeare. These are just courses offered at my university, but there’s many different types of literature that can be studied if it fits your fancy.

When taking a literature course know that it’s going to be reading intensive. You often won’t find a literature course, no matter the level, that only has one or two books/stories to read. Typically you may only have to get one textbook, but there are many, many stories that have to be read and interpreted and talked about in the classroom. It’s not an easy task, mind you, it’s actually quite difficult.

So, with that in mind, let me list some of the cons of literature classes first.

  1. They’re reading intensive. If you don’t like reading, then don’t take a literature class. If it’s required by your college/university, then suck it up. You may just find that you actually like what you read.
  2. The texts are often very complicated to understand. Many of the novels and stories picked for literature courses were written before 1900, so the language, syntax, grammar, even spelling can be different from what you’ve already grown to know.
  3. A lot of the texts will be boring. Depending on if you have a desire to learn more of the time period you’re studying and the stories made by authors of that time, you may find what you’re reading to be boring. It’s okay; a lot of students feel that way.

Those are just the top three cons of a literature class. If you’re not a big reader or aren’t into a certain time period, then make sure your university offers a diverse amount of literature classes.

But that’s not all literature classes are made of. There are some benefits to taking a literature class, such as:

  1. You learn about different cultures, subgroups, and how certain styles of writing were created. If you haven’t read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein then you most certainly will in some form of British literature. I learned that her novel was a turning point in how the “Gothic” themed literature came to be.
  2. You learn how to critically analyze and break down a text. This can be tricky, but as you further advance in different types of literature classes you will be able to better understand how to break down a sentence in a long paragraph or how to interpret what a certain scene represents within the history and context with which it was written.
  3. You gain a new appreciation for writers before our time. There are many, many rich and engaging stories that were written hundreds of years ago that we can still read and discuss and argue about today. There are still topics to discuss – and that’s major.

Those are the top three pros that I personally gained from taking many literature classes. Though most of my classes consist of writing, given my major, I have still taken several literature courses not only to fill requirements for my major, but also because I am purely fascinated by the text, language, and culture that can be learned about from literature.

It takes a lot of time and patience to be able to get through some works of literature, but if you’re able to make it through you will learn many things you might otherwise have not known, and that’s the point of learning, right?