A Sad Note

Matthew Buckingham mdbuckingham at msn.com
Thu Sep 23 16:43:43 EDT 2004

Thanks for sharing your teaching experiences, Chris. All I can say is, keep soldiering on. For every kid with a parent who thinks little Susie shouldn't have to use her noodle during Christmas break, I hope there are 10 kids' parents who back you up. (When did this start, this adversarial relationship between parents and teachers?)

I agree we're not a nation of readers, but I'm not sure we ever were. Our children don't read much, but neither do their parents. I worked in a Barnes and Noble for almost three years. The local high school had a summer reading program, requiring students to select one book from a wide-ranging list of novels (50 books or so, as I recall), everything from The Red Pony by Steinbeck to Exodus by Leon Uris. Most of the kids would start trickling in with hunched shoulders and despairing looks on their faces about a week before school started (a whole summer squandered). Still, I welcomed the opportunity to try to hand-sell them a book they would enjoy and get them fired up about reading for pleasure ("You're graduating this year and going to college next year. After that it's work and marriage and probably kids. This may be your last chance to read a book that you want to read. Carpe diem!" etc., etc.) Most of them would have none of it. They didn't care to pick a book they might enjoy. They just wanted to know, "Which of these books is shortest?" Needless to say, we sold a lot of The Red Pony and very little Uris.
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