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Monday, June 23, 2008

The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane

Since I didn't remember reading this book as a kid, I thought I'd read it when my daughter had to read it for summer reading. The Red Badge was typical of the classics written in the 1800's. Florid, flowery language, certainly a book of great impact for the time it was written. That said though, as a reader, I mean....as a person who really loves the written word, and wants nothing more than to see kids grow up with that same love, it seems to me to be almost counter intuitive to teach a novel like this to a group of 13 year olds.

Its a difficult book to read, archaic language, obscure phraseology, yet with themes that are pertinent today. I guess I feel that its important to appreciate classic literature, but on a very basic level it feels more important to me to foster a love of reading. I'm not sure that a book such as this will encourage kids to read. I don't know that a 13 year old can appreciate this book and will simply write it off as a boring dusty old book that a teacher crammed down his/her throat. Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating that Junior High kids should be reading only Teen People, Star, XMen and the like, but I think the books we direct them to should be more engaging.

(Posted on myspace July 27, 2007 and LibraryThing March 7, 2008)