Saturday, February 16, 2008

What happened to the good "young readers" books?

My wife and I were in a local bookstore this week, (no, not the horsefeed place with a better nonfiction section than WalMart, the actual bookstore next door to it) and since we have friends with kids who are getting towards the "young readers" age, I did some browsing in that area.

Now, this store has the best selection overall in town, and yet I've still been pretty steamed at the lack of certain authors.  Am I the only person on the planet who thinks there should still be some H. Rider Haggard or Edgar Rice Burroughs in that section?  I don't mean right in among the "Cat in the Hat" books, but there are a couple of shelves of teen books where the Allan Quatermain series would have fit in perfectly.  There were a few good selections, and a lot of them might be good at keeping the kids' interest and making them better readers, but for the most part, there was a definite lack of the type of series that used to provide good role models for young minds.  I have to wonder if "The Dangerous Book for Boys" and its recent companion "The Daring Book for Girls" are really a good idea without the moral lessons of the older stories.  (I have nothing against those books in themselves, though, and would give them to properly raised kids without hesitation.)

I've noticed similar trends in other things; sure, I had educational toys, but most of them were of the sort that encouraged parent-child interaction, not the modern electronic babysitters.  There were card games, outdoor activities, and field trips of all sorts.  Both of my parents worked as far back as I can remember, and yet they found the time to take an active role in my childhood.  When they couldn't, there were other family members who could.

One of the things that firmly etched into my mind is that children are damned inconvenient.  You don't just stuff them in the back of the closet when they get in the way of your social life or anything else.  That's one of the main reasons we still don't have any.  I wonder if any of the pregnant high-school age girls I had to squeeze past in the aisles of the store had enough experience from the child's side of proper parenting to realize that.


Scott said...

Hmmm... I am not familiar with any of those books. But when I was a boy, I liked the Hardy Boys series. Yes, it is sad that "childrn are damned inconvienent." A lot of people really feel that way.

EE said...

Nancy Drew.
Hardy Boys.
The Boxcar Children.

They held my heart as a kid.

EE said...

Oh, and The Happy Holisters!

MarlaQuack said...

The really sad thing is that they have this program called Advanced Reader that requires the kids to read x many books than take tests on them to score points. The schools have to buy the tests. So most of the tests correspond with the newer books. Sad. In the 1980's they rewrote the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy books. I look for the ones published before that.

KD5NRH said...

Marla; can you give some specifics of what they changed in the books? That could make an interesting study.

I remember a similar program to that, but it was brand new at the time, and they let us read pretty much anything. IIRC, the teachers skimmed the book once the student claimed to have finished it, and made up about 10 questions worth of quiz themselves.