Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Why your kid isn't ready for college

I live in a university town, where faculty members are a fairly significant presence on community organizations. So your public library is probably less elevated than ours, and that's a scary thought. Sally Wife picked up a Summer 2011 Reading List from the Durham Public Library the other day in hopes of finding books to recommend to our granddaughters, who live on a boat and who therefore read a lot. Good luck with that, as the children say!

Of twenty books on the list, only three seem remotely worthy. Two of those--Wuthering Heights and Water for Elephants--have recently been filmed, which probably explains their presence on the list; the third is a biography of Benedict Arnold. (This list, by the way, is indicated for students in the eighth grade through seniors in high school.) The others are all of the category called Young Adult, and they all feature dwarfs, "vampyres," Shadowhunters, the Maze, synthetic brains, overpopulated worlds, serial killers, and suchlike concerns of hormone-addled young minds. Here's a sample:

"Cameron Smith, a disaffected sixteen-year-old who, after being diagnosed with mad cow disease, sets off on a road trip with a death-obsessed video gaming dwarf he meets in the hospital in an attempt to find a cure."
Now, it is perfectly possible that some of this dreck is well-written, just some of the spy novels I read in high-school were well-written. But that it should be recommended? God protect us from the guardians of our culture, if this is the best a professional librarian can do. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

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