Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Whipping Boy

My local library has cut back on its hours. Boo. Recession, you suck.

Well, it doesn't really mean much except that even if I go super early, the library is still crammed with people. It makes it a little harder to peruse the shelves and to reach for the books that I'm aiming for. Ah well. There's plenty of time to read - the rest of my life, actually. Which is a lesson I try to teach to all my students. That reading isn't just for learning, or for school, but for fun and for a life-time.

I read The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman, winner of Newberry Medal, today. It's a rollicking adventure of two boys and the trouble that seems to drop into their laps without much effort. There is a trained bear, some mild moral lesson on being literate, and some snarkish internal dialogue by the whipping boy, Jemmy, himself. Best of all is the inclusion of the name "Hold-Your-Nose Billy." Kids lit has the best names. It's a fun, easy read. I finished it within an hour.

I hesitate to say that second and third graders would find this an independent read; in the traditional sense it would be. But some fifth graders have a "third grade reading level" so I don't know how to say what level students would read this and not be frustrated at the difficulty. It's also a nice read aloud book in a second grade classroom - or even during the latter half of first grade.

Personally, I don't find anything wrong with reading books that are above your "level" and vice versa. The New York Times is written at a 7th grade level, and it still is one of the most respected newspapers around. But I don't like to recommend books that are too hard for any student. It just gets them annoyed at reading, which totally not the point.

Coincidentally, this is an interesting memory of reading.

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