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What is your opinion on "fluff" books? - Page 3

post #41 of 136
To save typing time, there should be a smiley that says "I agree with Lillian."

I'm a voracious reader. I'm very well-read in the classics, but over the years I've also read tons and tons of fluff. All of the Bobbsey Twins and Trixie Belden mysteries, for example, when I was a kid. As a teenager, I read a ton of trashy and poor-quality fantasy novels. And as a teenager and adult, I've read reams of light or pulpy mysteries that were exceedingly low in literary quality.

I don't think any of it has impaired my taste for the "good stuff" - but even if it has, that doesn't necessarily mean that it would have been a good idea for my parents to prohibit it.

I've learned a lot about writing by reading "bad" books. Over time, with continued exposure to a lot of different books combined with increasing maturity, it's hard *not* to notice the differences between them - and start wondering: "What makes this one stand up to re-reading better? Why do I care so much more about these characters than I do about those characters? How does this author make me feel genuine emotion, when that other author can write about emotional stuff and leave me feeling bored and unmoved? Why did I used to like this book, even though it wasn't very good - what did the author do to suck me in?"

Also, never underestimate the motivating power of bad writing. Many of my friends who are now published authors say that began writing when they realized, "*I* could do better than *this* crap!"

Now, one thing that I think *can* be very helpful to a child who's on a straight diet of fluff, is making them aware of better examples of the genre or better books of the same type. For example, steering a kid who reads nothing but derivative and poorly-written series fantasy novels towards The Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Prydain. Kids don't necessarily know how to find the good stuff, and a young high-fantasy lover might think that the only alternative to Dragonlance books is boring mainstream fiction.

But I think that it has to be done in a respectful way. Not "That stuff you like is crap - you should read this instead," but "You know, if you like that, I bet you'd like this too."
post #42 of 136
Quote:
Originally Posted by UUMom View Post
I am trying to process the message a child might hear when told her parent won't read to them something to them that they would like read. I mean, really, how does that work, and for what reason?

I mean, yeah, I wanted to shriek, "Spot is under the freaking basket already!' when my little boy wanted to read Spot for the billionth time, and I don't really get into the The Berenstein Bears and No Junk Food or TV morality, but adults can't know what draws a child to something. How do you just ignore that?

If a child is obviously not enjoying the story, you stop reading, but if a child is rapt...how could you deny a child that? What does that say about your trust in the child to do something as simple as be drawn to a certain book on any given day?

Of course, I let my children eat cookies.
I let my kids eat cookies too, but I don't read Disney books.

DD2 LOVES Disney books. She knows the story lines already, she knows what to expect and that makes her happy. DS loves them too. Big Bright pictures that he recognises from the movies. I still don't read them. I just can't. They drive me crazy to the point I want to do this and/or this (to myself). Repeatedly. Really.

Does that make me a terrible mother that doesn't trust her children's choices? Maybe. But considering all the other things I do for my kids I think they can live without the Disney books. Heck, they can still look at the pictures and sometimes their dad will read them. I figure it's not the end of the world. I actually think it says that mom (and therefore they) shouldn't be forced to do something they find uncomfortable just to make someone else happy. My kids are older though, so maybe that's the difference? I never felt this strongly about reading Noni Feels or for the 1,243,864,057,294,875th time LOL!

Now, on the other hand I repeatedly read from the *Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs* even though I am not terribly interested in the content because DS enjoys them so much. I also read WITCH books that I find silly and melodramatic because DD2 loves those too and I can get through them without wanting to :Puke It's just I have my limits, you know?
post #43 of 136
My dh is better at reading whatever the girls want. I will read what they choose but I just can't read Dora over and over.

My dd seems to understand what makes a book a good read. She can discern between books that challenge her and books that are easy for her.
post #44 of 136
I like a lot of what Charlotte Mason has to say, or rather, what those who paraphrase her have to say (I find her books to be a hard read...) : But I disagree with a couple things. I really don't like the word twaddle. (Is that really a word?) I agree with limiting certain books for morality reasons, but not for fluff versus serious literary quality when a child is reading (or being read to) for pleasure. Another thing I disagree with is the CM notion of keeping fantasy and imagination to a minimum. I think that is more a product of the times of CM's writings than about what leads to the best education. Reading should be a joy!

Those who go to traditional school are raised on "twaddly" textbooks, so taking a living book approach, even some of the time, is a huge improvement!
post #45 of 136
Quote:
Originally Posted by 3momkmb View Post
I let my kids eat cookies too, but I don't read Disney books.

DD2 LOVES Disney books. She knows the story lines already, she knows what to expect and that makes her happy. DS loves them too. Big Bright pictures that he recognises from the movies. I still don't read them. I just can't. They drive me crazy to the point I want to do this and/or this (to myself). Repeatedly. Really.

Does that make me a terrible mother that doesn't trust her children's choices? Maybe. But considering all the other things I do for my kids I think they can live without the Disney books. Heck, they can still look at the pictures and sometimes their dad will read them. I figure it's not the end of the world. I actually think it says that mom (and therefore they) shouldn't be forced to do something they find uncomfortable just to make someone else happy. My kids are older though, so maybe that's the difference? I never felt this strongly about reading Noni Feels or for the 1,243,864,057,294,875th time LOL!

Now, on the other hand I repeatedly read from the *Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs* even though I am not terribly interested in the content because DS enjoys them so much. I also read WITCH books that I find silly and melodramatic because DD2 loves those too and I can get through them without wanting to :Puke It's just I have my limits, you know?

People have to do what they have to do, so are you a bad mother? I don't think so.

But I still read to them what they asked. I don't recall anything killing me. It's about their need, not mine. I mean, if it made me literally throw up...I might consider it. It just never seemed a big deal at all to read whatever they wanted. I can't see judging a small child's literary selections.

Is all. Nothing personal. :
post #46 of 136
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lillian J View Post
If you provide a lot of delicious and nourishing foods for a child, it's unlikely he'll be all that attracted to throwing himself into junk food - won't even have that much appetite left over for it. I know people who made their children obsessed with trying to get candy, whereas my son never thought about it much one way or another - couldn't care less - because it wasn't forbidden and he wasn't treated as if there was something wrong with his behavior if he liked it. And the same for books.
- Lillian
Hmmmm. This is getting me to thinking. My mom has been saying this about our limiting "sweets" to twice a day. And our son is obsessed with dessert! He wants to eat lunch at 10:30am so he can have dessert. He says when we're eating, "Is this enough for dessert?" But if we don't limit them, won't he fill up on that and not have room for healthy food?

But back to the topic. This reminds me of my father-in-law's rule for my husband when he was growing up. Every hour on computer games had to be balanced by an hour of "educational" computer time. So guess what my husband does every night from 9pm until about 1am... World of Warcraft!
post #47 of 136
I honestly have to read "fluff" sometimes between quality literature to balance myself out. Sometimes the good books are so good I can't read another remarkable book...I must first read some fluff.

I read tons of Danielle Steele-style books in my younger life. They helped me learn to read quickly, skim for main points, and recognize good writing. They in no way prevented me from reading classics. In fact, they helped me appreciate talented writing immensely.

I deeply love Steinbeck but can't imagine reading only books of that intensity for the rest of my life. Sometimes a fluffy Meg Cabot book is just what calls to me. I feel the same for my kids...I hope they read a variety of types of books and enjoy them for what they are.
post #48 of 136
Quote:
Originally Posted by UUMom View Post
I am trying to process the message a child might hear when told her parent won't read to them something they would like read. I mean, really, how does that work, and for what reason?


Of course, I let my children eat cookies.

The message is, I don't want to read that. I don't require to my kids to read X book, and I have the same right to say I don't want to read an adaption of Jurassic Park or Little Mermaid. How is reading time a warm time of sharing if the book makes you want to scream?
post #49 of 136
Quote:
Originally Posted by momofcutie View Post
Hmmmm. This is getting me to thinking. My mom has been saying this about our limiting "sweets" to twice a day. And our son is obsessed with dessert! He wants to eat lunch at 10:30am so he can have dessert. He says when we're eating, "Is this enough for dessert?" But if we don't limit them, won't he fill up on that and not have room for healthy food?


I would recommend the book "How to get your kids to eat...but not too much" as well as "Child of Mine: feeding w/ love and good sense" She covers this in great detail. If you have been limiting sweets your child most likely will gorge if you take away the limits. But after a few days or so it WILL level out. Trust me!


http://www.amazon.com/How-Get-Your-K...332759-8328609
http://www.amazon.com/Child-Mine-Fee.../dp/0923521518
post #50 of 136
Back on topic.

We read anything and everything in our house. I don't limit books. I survived my childhood thru the magic of books. It was my way of escaping. I truly believe that reading foster a love of reading. My husband never read anything when we met except the sports section. He now reads quite a bit and I believe because since we have been together he has been surrounded by my family all who are avid readers. He started w/ fluff like Robert Parker, Thomas Harris and Stephen King, moved on Vachs and other intense books and now is reading many of the classics. My son is all ready showing a love of reading and I will do nothing to extinguish that. I will just continue to read to him what he is interested in and expand from there.
post #51 of 136
Quote:
Originally Posted by warriorprincess View Post
The message is, I don't want to read that. I don't require to my kids to read X book, and I have the same right to say I don't want to read an adaption of Jurassic Park or Little Mermaid. How is reading time a warm time of sharing if the book makes you want to scream?
I've never felt that strongly about any book my children ever asked me to read. That's all. That I can't relate doesn't make me a good mother. FWIW I don't have any patience for bickering. That makes me **nuts**.


I've actually read Diseny's version of Little Mermaid, and we've seen the Disney Movie. We've also read and discussed the orginal LM and how the two are not the same. :

Oh, I love the first and 2nd Jurrassic Park movies, and I alo liked the first novel. I'm so lowbrow. But I draw the line at fat nakkie guys with no teeth on Jerry Springer.
post #52 of 136
We read pretty much any book the boys want us too. There are a few that I don't like to read, and if dh is home, I'll often direct the boys in his direction! When they check out books at the library, I do limit the amount of different types of books (in other words, ds#1 is allowed 3 Batman books, etc), but that is because the library only has so many of them and I tell the boys they need to leave some for other kids to read. I also check out fiction of substance as well as non-fiction books for them (we're talking picture books here - my oldest is only 5 1/2). My goal is to have them exposed to a wide variety of reading material - fluff and non-fluff - much like they are exposed to a wide variety of foods (most all of which are nutritious but also include once in a while some ice cream, cookies, or another piece of "fluff"). I also don't believe that all books (much like TV shows or movies) need to "educate" - I love watching a piece of fluff on TV (Grey's Anatomy is my vice - it's the only thing I actually turn on to watch), and the boys like watching silly things too (when we turn on the TV - we do limit the amount but do allow "fluff" things to be watched). For some reason, for some, entertainment doesn't hold the same value as education (not saying anyone here, but more a general statement about people). Anyways ... I'm rambling now because I keep getting interrupted.
post #53 of 136
Quote:
Originally Posted by UUMom View Post
I am trying to process the message a child might hear when told her parent won't read to them something they would like read. I mean, really, how does that work, and for what reason?

I mean, yeah, I wanted to shriek, "Spot is under the freaking basket already!' when my little boy wanted to read Spot for the billionth time, and I don't really get into the The Berenstein Bears and No Junk Food or TV morality, but adults can't know what draws a child to something. How do you just ignore that?

If a child is obviously not enjoying the story, you stop reading, but if a child is rapt...how could you deny a child that? What does that say about your trust in the child to do something as simple as be drawn to a certain book on any given day?

I don't think that anyone is denying their child the joy of reading. We're just exercising our parental perrogative to make judicious choices about the types of books we're willing to devote our time and attention to. I think it is perfectly healthy to say "No I will not read you the Barbie early reader book (as an example) - but I would love to read to you from the Barefoot Book of Princesses if you would like or anything from the basket by the couch/this section of the library." And I'll tell them why; that the stories and pictures are beautiful and captivating and incredibly more interesting and satisfying than Barbie. I'm not denying them an opportunity for "rapt attention". I am helping them to find books and stories that are far more satisfying than Barbie could ever be.

I disagree that I am ignoring their needs/interests by telling them no Barbie, or that I can't know what will captivate them. There are so many good choices out there that I just don't think it's necessary to reach for only what is popular or "easy".

I avoid a lot of this problem by just not bringing that kind of stuff home from the bookstore or library just like I don't buy a lot of bland processed crappy food.
post #54 of 136
Where's Spot again??
LOL

I admit I have said "I really do not want to read 'Dora's Starry Christmas' tonight...I have read it the past 6 nights in a row and I would just rather read something different. Is that okay?"

But that's rare. Usually I will read whatever they bring to me to read. DD1 and I made it partway through a Calvin and Hobbes treasury a few months ago (which she called "Jackson and Bob...Bob's the tiger, Mom!") and she picked up some great vocabulary from it. You just never know.

I have found that if I try to "push" certain books on her, it does not work. Much like food - Lillian's post resonated with me!

Meg Murry was a "brain candy" reader and now she's an English teacher - so it can't be all bad, right?
post #55 of 136
If the goal is to nurture a child's love of reading, I just can't see limiting her available reading material. If a child is interested in Goosebumps, she may or may not be interested in Poe. If she is, isn't it okay to enjoy both? If she isn't, why not allow her to follow her interest in Goosebumps? What's the harm?

When I was in high school, I hated that they wanted me to put down the books I was reading and pick up "classics." So, I purposefully decided to skip every assigned book they threw my way. It was easy enough to ace the tests and even craft a great essay, as long as I listened when they discussed the books in class.

Years later, I picked up several of those books I'd passed over and fell in love with them. I read through all the Fitzgerald I could find, pored over my copy of To Kill a Mockingbird, decided Hemingway just wasn't my thing, found 1984 to be eerily spot-on....

But at the time, you couldn't have paid me to pick up these books - because someone else was trying to decide what I should spend my time reading. That just royally ticked me off. I wanted to read Sherlock Holmes and Richard Adams and Tolkien and Richard Bach. I wanted to read magazines and slam poetry (I think before it was even called "slam"). I wanted to read Heinlein and doomsday sci-fi, like The Sheep Look Up. But, my school didn't value my reading choices. So, I shunned their idea of quality literature for almost a decade.

My son, almost nine, reads anything and everything. Lots of non-fiction about subjects that interest him (especially world history, mythology and sciences), tons of fantasy, Goosebumps, classics, picture books he's had for years, joke books, general fiction, poems, Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh books, comics, magazines of all sorts, reference books - you name it. With no one limiting his choices, he's happily branched out and is open to reading just about anything - regardless of level or literary quality. He reads both for information and for entertainment, and he reads a lot.

Looking at my son, I find myself wishing my reading choices had been valued while I was growing up. If they had, I might have become fascinated with Fitzgerald much sooner. I might have fallen in love with Scout Finch's observations when I was 16, rather than 29. I might have learned the fun of reading Shakespeare the way my son has. Well, at least I can make up for lost time....
post #56 of 136
I realized that trying to chose or dictate my son's reading materials ultimately led to less reading which is a bad thing.

So he reads whatever he wants. Right now he is really into Harry Potter, Eragon & Eldest, Bone, Tom Clancy, DragonLance .... dragons and magic. One day he might be immersed in a Pokemon video game strategy guide, the next he's reading Lord of the Rings.

To some it may be brain candy but to me it's him developing a lifelong love for reading.

I may occasionally suggest a book but even that tends to be counterproductive so I have given up.

He reads, that makes me happy.
post #57 of 136
that's a great post, Folkypoet.

Also, twaddle and fluff are in the eye of the beholder. Here are some things that I've seen sneered at, either by my own parents when I was a kid or by other parents now:

Scott Spencer's "Endless Love," which is a beautiful subtle novel that happened to get made into a trashy movie
All horror, from Goosebumps and Stephen King to Shirley Jackson
Harry Potter
All fantasy, including Narnia and Tolkein
All comics and graphic novels
Captain Underpants (which has some remarkably sophisticated vocabulary, given the target audience)
Ray Bradbury
Judy Blume
All science fiction
Series books -- Nancy Drew, Bobbsey Twins, the Three Investigators, et al.

I think all of the above have a lot of value, not least because of the great pleasure they can give readers.
post #58 of 136
ds has developed a huge interest in garfield comics. in fact, he is in the process of teaching himself to read with this fluff. seriously, this has worked like nothing else. he know i don't really like to read them outloud, so he has to read them himself. likewise, i really got into a serious reading groove by reading thingslike the saucy and scandelous v.c. andrews in eighth grade.
i quickly progressed to much more serious things, but i still enjoy a bit of twaddle now and again although my love of ms. andrews has thankfully waned over the years.
nak so no caps!
post #59 of 136
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by white_feather View Post
Assuming that you were schooled, I don't see this as 'bad' as you may! I might be pulling too much from my own memories of the school experience, but there were regular reading and writing opportunities to stretch the brain in ways that Meg Murray is correctly suggesting. Time to relax and be transported to another place that we could connect to on an emotional level couldn't be that bad! Teens have it hard. Give yourself some slack!
I used to read said romances under my desk at school LOL because I was bored out of my skull :

My favorite memory of "school" was ditching class for a week and going to the library every day and hiding in a corner so that no one would ask me why I wasn't in school...I remember that I read a biography about Margaret Sanger and an autobiography by Winston Churchill <sigh>....then the school tracked down my mother and threatened truancy and I was back to reading romances under my desk :

Steph
post #60 of 136
Kids reading fluff doesn't bother me, but for some reason it bugs me when adults, librarians and teachers particularly, say it's serving the "cause" of getting kids to read "no matter what." I can't fully put my finger on why this bothers me, but I find it pretty irritating. Maybe its this "we know best" ulterior motive and the idea that certain books are used to "trick" kids into becoming readers because reading reading reading anything is the real goal. I think too that it suggests this strange undesirability about reading--like reading isn't fun unless you read stuff with a special designed fun, junk food glow to it.

Anyhow, I can't help rolling my eyes about certain fluff. I don't forbid it. I will not read Junie B. Jones aloud, <cringe> but they can read it alone if they want to...

Anybody's daughters interested in adult romance novels? My 12yo is and I am okay with how we've talked about it and made a safe place for her interest, but I sometimes wonder if we should have handled it any differently. I think this kind of fluff is different from what some here are thinking about. Does it change your opinion, if young folk choose books that often have what I consider "soft porn" passages?
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