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Monday, April 21, 2008

Balancing Act

I have been thinking ... not only authors have to balance the plot, the tone, the characters, the excitement and the poetic moments, a reader, especially a critical one that has some responsibilities to other readers (such as a teacher or a librarian,) has to perform such acts constantly when recommending and sharing books. I really love Wilson's 100 Cupboards and yet I can totally see some flaws. Do I have to preface my recommendation by "although there are parts of the book that might not seem convincing..." before getting into all the exciting stuff that I believe most children would love? Or, do I just enthusiastically "push" the book like I did today to a bunch of 6th graders without mentioning my own reservations because they might not find those parts as annoying as I did? Shouldn't I somehow be honing their literary critical thinking abilities? If there is a major flaw, shouldn't I point out and "enlighten" these young readers? This dilemma applies to the opposite situations as well -- when I "know" that a book is very well written and painstakingly crafted, but I am not personally responding to it or moved by it, do I then not advocate for it? Or, shouldn't I muster some pretend enthusiasm in hope that maybe some young readers will appreciate the story, the character, the subject matter, etc., even if I have not? I don't do this very well... not well at all.

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