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7. Do not read the "useful" books-Woodmam

Not to read "useful" books is not to say that you don't choose good books for your child, but to choose them with your child's interest as the core element and not with "usefulness" as the selection criterion.

  A parent of a first-year student was worried that her child could not write and asked me how she could make her child learn how to write.

  When I learned that her child reads very few books outside of school, I suggested that she strengthen this area and recommended two novels to her. She bought the book for her child, who read it, enjoyed it, and wanted to buy other novels to read when she was done. She was very happy to call me for this reason. But after a while, when I saw her again and mentioned her child's reading, she looked sad again, saying that now her child didn't like to read extracurricular books again and she didn't know what to do.

  It turned out that she had hurriedly bought her child an anthology of essays for middle school students after he had read the two novels. The mother's understanding is that reading extracurricular books is to improve the level of composition, what is the use of just reading novels, look at the essay selection, learn how to write, in order to learn to write essays. But the child does not want to read the essay selection. The parents gave their children the condition that: you can buy other books only after reading the essay selection. The child agreed, but was unwilling to read the essay selection, and as a result, the essay selection has been left there, and the child is no longer talking about buying extracurricular books.

  She doesn't understand the nutritional value of fiction, and she doesn't realize that reading requires interest. She thinks that reading novels is not as "useful" as reading essay choices. This is like trying to give your child a vitamin supplement and replacing a basket of fresh apples with a box of pickled dried fruit.

  I've never been in favor of students reading essay choices, so I never let Yuan Yuan read them either. Most of her extracurricular reading books were novels, in addition to biographies, histories, and essays. It was only in her senior year that she read a book called "Selected Essays for the College Entrance Examination" in order to grasp the essentials of writing essays for the college entrance examination. The fact that Yuan Yuan got good results in her college entrance exam essays may have something to do with the fact that she studied those full-scoring essays; however, I would like to emphasize here that without her continuous reading for more than ten years, and the good writing she has developed, it would be useless to read as many "full-scoring essays" as possible before the college entrance exam.

  Nowadays, many parents do not pay attention to their children's reading outside the classroom, but are only keen to buy essay selections for their children, subscribe to primary and secondary school students essay magazine. This is a great misconception.

  I have seen some primary and secondary school students essay selection and essay magazine, the articles published above are certainly still smooth, for a child, can write that kind of text has not been easy. But they are well-written, but also some students' exercises, whether in terms of language, ideas or readability, are very childish. These things are just exercises, not creative writing, except for teachers or editors, who want to read these things.

  Besides, many essays are too heavily guided by adults, saying things that are not meant to be said, and even have the legacy of the Cultural Revolution and the eight-legged accent. It can neither enrich children's insight in language vocabulary, nor guide their progress in thought, but teach them to speak falsehoods in writing. Take these things to read to children, how can they like it.

  Many primary and secondary school students have come up with very interesting essay selections.

  Three or two people, get a book number, rent a private room, and then in the name of some essay contest organizing committee to send out letters of call for essays around the country. All the submissions were basically selected, and then you were told that the essays had won several prizes, that the winning works would be published in a collection, how much each copy cost, and how many copies you needed to buy at least. After the parents send the money, most of them do receive the book with their children's works, but the book is very thick, the words inside are small and dense, and from the table of contents, there are many winners, and it takes half a day to find your child's name. The quality of this kind of essay selection can be imagined.

  If you say that the above kind of money to buy published things in the prevalent for a period of time, has seemed a little clumsy; the following kind of emerging money to buy published appears to be more clever, easier to fool parents and teachers moved.

  I heard an elementary school teacher tell me such an incident. A national education research institute sent an invitation to her elementary school to do a project together. The so-called "project" content, is the elementary school to subscribe to at least 500 copies of a magazine run by the Institute. The magazine is dedicated to elementary school students' essays and is published in 12 issues a year for $6 each. In return, each partner school is given two or three student essays per year or a colorful cover of their school in the magazine. Partner schools can invite experts from the Textbook Institute to give lectures at their schools during the partnership period at an additional cost. Individual teachers will also have the opportunity to sign their names on future "projects" of the textbook institute. The magazine does not publish essays by non-cooperating students and is not open to the public (because it does not have an external issue).

  Let's look at what the kids are getting from the students' perspective.

  Each student spends $72 a year to buy this book of essays for elementary school students, and each school must have at least 500 children subscribed, so a school must contribute at least 36,000 yuan a year to this magazine. Then only two to three students have the opportunity to publish their work in the magazine, which is not open to the public - this is not the most uneconomical place, the most uneconomical is that such a magazine children will not be interested in reading it, 72 yuan to buy what is basically a pile of waste paper.

  The teacher lamented that if each child used the money to buy two novels, and then bring all the books together, each class to run a book corner, how valuable it is. According to the teacher, this "project" of the textbook institute not only cooperates with elementary school, but also with secondary schools, and there are a lot of partners.

  I asked her curiously, "Isn't it forbidden to assign extracurricular materials to students nowadays, so how can the school organize students to subscribe to magazines?

  The teacher said that the school does not force them, but always emphasizes "voluntary". But teachers can't withstand the mobilization of school officials, students can't withstand the mobilization of teachers, parents can't withstand the request of their children; and with the signboard of "subject" and "textbook", it's easy for a school with more than 1,000 students to gather 500 subscribers.

  I can understand this conscientious teacher's concern. Replacing daily reading with reading selected essays or essay magazines is a misunderstanding of reading and reflects a shallow understanding of how to develop students' writing skills. It is not that the operators are not aware of this; all parties in society have their own calculations of interest, and the rush to success can make people both apathetic and blind. The poor thing is only the children, who have not only wasted money, but also a learning opportunity.

  The teacher lamented that not only adults, but also children have now become utilitarian. Many children do not like to read outside the classroom, and want to find a shortcut to writing, also think that reading composition magazines can improve the level of composition, so they are very enthusiastic about subscribing to this "national textbook" magazine. In fact, she observed that when these magazines reached the children, they just flipped through them to see if there was anything about our school, and almost no one read them seriously.

  It's understandable that children don't have the ability to choose, and we can't control the behavior of "national educational research institutes", but parents and teachers have the responsibility to introduce some good books to their children. At least do unto others as you would have them do unto you in the selection of books to read. If you ask yourself which one you like to read, the answer will come out.

  So the first thing I want to emphasize here is that, as regular reading material, essay selections do not make sense.

  There is another situation. Some parents buy their children only selected essays, short story collections, etc., although they do not buy essay selections. They think their children are young and have tight homework, so they are suitable for reading shorter things. Whenever I see parents for their children to select the Nobel Prize winning author prose collection of selected books, the heart always can not help but doubt, the child to read, especially the elementary school children?

  Considering the continuity of reading and the amount of accumulation of primary and secondary school students, I think we should focus on reading long novels. First of all, novels are more attractive and can make children read into them; secondly, long novels tell a big story in one book and can attract children to read hundreds of thousands of words in one breath. Elementary and middle school students are mostly not interested in prose, especially translated prose; and short novels tell a wonderful story, and only 10,000 words at most after reading. Children can read a large story in one sitting, but few can read 20 short stories in a row, one after the other. Reading long stories regularly makes it easier to develop the habit of reading a lot. Good short works can be recommended to your child, but they should not be the main and only thing.

  On the question of what to read we should both give our children some guidance and respect their wishes. A central purpose is to try to mobilize their interest in reading, considering interesting first and then useful.

  The earliest long novel my daughter Yuan Yuan read was a martial arts novel by Jin Yong. The reason why I suggested her to read Jin Yong's books at that time was that Jin Yong's novels were suspenseful and had interesting plots, which could attract people to read on; moreover, his writing was very standardized and sophisticated, which made the reading feel popular and smooth; it was full of love-hate emotions, which was in line with the aesthetic psychology of children; there were some love descriptions, but they were pure and clean without eating the fireworks of the world. So I later suggested to many people that they should let their children read Jin Yong.

  In fact, I myself am not a fan of Jin Yong's novels. If I had seen his works in my middle school days, I might have liked them very much, but I had been working for many years when I saw his novels, and my reading tastes were no longer here. I read two of them later, just to drive Yuan Yuan's reading.

  As soon as Yuan Yuan came across these books, she was really hooked and read all 14 of Jin Yong's martial arts novels in one sitting in less than half a year. I thought she should read better books after reading these books, so I recommended some famous books to her, but found that she was not interested.

  One day we saw a set of books for sale in a bookstore, and as she was watching the TV series with great enthusiasm, her eyes lit up and she couldn't resist flipping through them, finding that the plot was basically the same as the TV series. I remember that there were many books in the set and she finished them quickly because she was so interested in the story. For Christmas, I bought her the whole set of "Return of the Pearl II" as a gift, and Yuan Yuan loved it so much that she read all those books again, and more than once. She would often flip open a paragraph and read it with great interest for a while.

  Many people criticize Qiong Yao's novels for being shallow, and criticize "Return of the Pearl" for having no "taste", as if letting children read such books is pointing them in the wrong direction. I think that it depends on who you are talking about. It is true that Qiong Yao's work is not a masterpiece, but Qiong Yao's writing is also very standardized, sophisticated and clean. For an 8-year-old girl who likes the cute little swallows and the undulating plot, this book is suitable for her. As for the "classics", I believe that as long as she has enough reading base, she will one day be interested in some classics.

  I have seen a parent, she pays close attention to children's reading, from the child in kindergarten on the Andersen fairy tales, children in elementary school literacy, let the child read the illustrated book of Andersen fairy tales, children in junior high school, she bought a thick book of pure text of Andersen fairy tales and Nobel Prize winning writers essay selection. The result is predictable, the child "do not read properly outside the classroom books".

  Another parent, once he considered that his child needs to read some books, he directly bought "Anna Karenina" "how steel is made" and so on, the result is that he also very directly to the child scared.

  These parents are providing the "classics" for their children, and there is probably no criticism of their choices from onlookers. Children don't know which books they need, but they know which books they don't need, and they have only one attitude toward things that don't interest them: to reject them.

  So, when choosing reading books for your children, get to know them and then give suggestions. Don't use adult eyes to choose, and don't use "useful" as a value judgment, but consider the child's level of acceptance, his interest.

  I also met a parent who was shocked to find that her middle school child loved to read the works of Han Han, Guo Jingming and other teenagers who became famous. In fact, she had never read these people's works herself, and for some reason, she subjectively decided that these works were unhealthy and uninteresting, and always discouraged her child from reading them. As a result, she often clashes with her child, who refuses all the books she recommends, and sneaks out to read whatever she won't let her read.

  My advice is, if parents themselves often read, they know very well which book is good, they can recommend it to their children; if parents can always recommend some books to their children that they also feel interested in, children are actually very willing to listen to their parents' guidance. But if parents rarely read themselves, they should not just tell their children how to read, and the initiative to choose should be given to the children.

  The language syllabus issued by the Ministry of Education in 2000 set out the 30 famous books that secondary school students must read, 15 each from China and abroad. I am not sure if it has been revised in recent years. These 30 books are all classics and can be used as reference for selection. After all, some of the works are too far from the life of children today, and the readability is not very strong, maybe it is just suitable for children to read when they grow up.

  What he rejects is either the product itself is not good enough, or it does not match his reading ability.

  What parents are reminded of here is that they must let their children buy books from regular bookstores, not from ground stalls or some unscrupulous small stores, in case they buy books with vulgar content. Any book that you buy in a regular bookstore and that interests your child should be suitable for him.

  Even for adults, a lasting interest in reading comes from the fact that books are "interesting" rather than "useful".

  Not to read "useful" books is not to say that we do not choose good books for our children, but to choose them with their interests as the core element, not with "usefulness" as the criterion.

  In fact, "interesting" and "useful" are not opposed to each other, and interesting books are often useful books. A good novel has no less influence on children's writing than an essay selection, and more than an essay selection. Mr. Tao Xingzhi once suggested using "Dream of the Red Chamber" as a language textbook. Therefore, I am saying here that "not reading useful books" is an overkill, the purpose is to emphasize the focus on "interesting". Only if it is "interesting" can children achieve reading activities; only if they achieve activities can they achieve "usefulness".

  Special Tips

  As a regular reading material, it is meaningless to select essays.

  Considering the continuity and volume of reading for elementary and middle school students, I think we should focus on reading long novels. Firstly, novels are more attractive and can make children read into them; secondly, long novels tell a big story in one book, which can attract children to read down hundreds of thousands of words in one breath.

  If parents themselves often read books, they know very well which books are good and can recommend them to their children; if parents can always recommend books to their children that they also feel interested in, children are actually very willing to listen to their parents' guidance. However, if parents rarely read themselves, they should not just tell their children how to read and should give them the initiative to choose.

  Make sure your child buys books from regular bookstores, not from stalls or small stores, to prevent buying books with vulgar content.


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