Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Emerging Scholars Book Choice

I honestly feel that all of these books would be good choices with the exception of Harry Potter and Twilight, simply because most students have probably already read the book, are are familiar with the story through the movies.
I think Esperanza Rising would be a really good choice since it tells the story of a girl put in a new location and dealing and overcoming her struggles there. I think this could relate to the students experience with the Emerging Scholars Program, as well, as with a college experience. Obviously Esperanza has to move to a new country and is put in a different social class, but the feelings of being lost and not fitting are still relatable.
Also since one of the main themes in Esperanza Rising is hope, I think this book is appropriate. The Emerging Scholars program is targeted at students who do not see college in there future with the hope of allowing them to change their dreams and expectations for the future. This book shows that things will all work out for the best, just like college would prove to be a good consideration, if not choice, for these students.
I think that Esperanza Rising also deals with cultural issues, allowing more students to relate to it. Culture is also a good place that research could come into the lesson.
Finally I feel that no matter the Emerging Scholar students' reading level Esperanza Rising would be a good choice for anyone in high school. It is a pretty simple read, yet has some deeper messages that could easily be discussed.

I think that Briar Rose would be another excellent choice because I feel the book combines English and Research in itself. It would be a great book to combine the subjects if that is how the course is taught.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


I think that Mulan has been Westernized. While I do not think this is necessarily right, I do think that it helps a wider audience relate to it. On the other hand I think that by introducing a character like Ailin viewers could learn more about a different culture. In the Chinese culture what Mulan and Ailin did was inappropriate which is partly what makes it an interesting story. By Westernizing the story it kind of makes the characters' actions seem less significant. While I understand the motives of making the movie more Western I think it would be better to stick to the traditional story because it would allow for a different perspective to be seen.
I like both the movie Mulan and the book Ties that Bind Ties that Break and think both tell stories of breaking away from their culture. Having to change the story in order to accommodate the audience is unnecessary. I think people would appreciate seeing a traditional Chinese story, rather than a Westernized one.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Black and White

I do not feel that Black and White exploits these true life experiences, but rather uses them to help point out the significance that race plays in our lives. I think by using these true situations Volponi makes the novel more creditable and demonstrates that white the book is fiction, situations like this really do happen in real life. I think that Volponi's experiences on Rikers Island proved to be some of the most valuable for him as well as this novel. There he noticed that most of the inmates were black or hispanic, thus giving him background from which to base Marcus's character. I think since Eddie was really the more guilty of the two, Volponi is making a statement that some of these inmates may have also been being punished for crimes in which they did not commit. The novel plays up racial and social class by giving evidence that because Eddie was white and more wealthy is the reason he was able to get off so much easier than Marcus. I think Volponi is playing tribute to these people from Rikers Island because he calls into question their guilty, just as Marcus's was in the book. This novel points to the ideas that the inmates at Rikers Island may not have had the means in which to defend themselves due to money, or that stereotypes against blacks and hispanics influenced to their conviction. In reality the inmates may have been innocent or simply just made a mistake despite the good people that they really were, like Marcus and Eddie.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Comparing Children and Adult Fiction

I felt that Through Children's Eyes? by Paul Thompson was an interesting study comparing the different word and grammatical differences between children and adult imaginative fiction. The study was also broadened to include newspaper articles in order to compare these differences to a different type of literature. The data found in the article suggests that the similar words are commonly used in both children and adult literature. However, I also feel this information is not extremely useful because the most common words were very basic, mostly consisting of pronouns and articles. It is very difficult to write a sentence without these types of words, so it proves very little as far as differences.
I think the real differences would be with the vocabulary, with adult fiction using a much broader selection of words. The comparison of the parts of speech did help to improve this aspect of the study because it showed that adult fiction used more adjectives, which would greatly add to the complexity of a sentence. On the other hand though, when comparing the most common adjectives between the two, almost all of the same adjectives were used in children and adult fiction.
It it also worth noting that newspaper articles use similar words as well. Only when looking at the adjective comparison did newspaper articles differ greatly. This is most likely due to having a different subject matter than fiction.
The article stated that this research "should help to shed light on the kinds of patterns
in language which younger readers may need to learn about as they progress
through their schooling." Overall I felt this study showed that the linguistics used in children and adult fiction are very similar, and therefore, a change in schooling is not necessary. Since they two are similar it seems to me that a child should be able to transition easily from children's literature to adult literature without many difficulties.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Fairy Tales

I do not think of fairy tales having a big impact on my childhood. I was read lots of stories that are fairy tales and others that have similar characteristics, but I have never thought of fairy tales as effecting my behavior or thoughts as a child. The fairy tales that stand out the most to me are Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, Hansel and Gretel, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Rapunzel.
After reflecting on the morals that each of these stories teaches, I think they did help to reinforce these lessons. In many of these stories the characters find themselves in bad situations. However, had the characters known the lesson the story teaches they would not have found themselves in that position at all. The Boy Who Cried Wolf is a great example of this. The story teaches not to lie because when known as a liar, even when you tell the truth no one will be believe you. When the boy in the story finds himself in real danger, no one comes to help him. While I am sure I already knew not to lie, this story probably helped to emphasize the reasons why lying is bad.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Star Quality

“Star Quality” by Linda Sue Park brings up some very good points. Fame often brings celebrities many new opportunities, many times including writing books. However, it is unacceptable for these books not to be up to par with other children’s books. A book with a celebrity author is very likely to sell well just because the name is recognizable. It is unfair to the reader to have to read a book that has not fulfilled its potential.
To me it seems that celebrities want to be good at whatever they do; no actor wants to be known as a bad or untalented actor. So why wouldn’t the same go for the books that theses celebrities write? I would think that celebrities would want feedback and advice on their books, and that editors and publishers would not be too concerned to recommend changes.
Out of the books we have read so far, J.K. Rowling and Stephanie Meyer stand out the most as celebrity authors. While both started out as unknown people, their creative stories have lead them to be very well known. I think most would agree that both book series could probably be written a little bit better. For me, I love the story-lines, and would love to see how much better the books would be with a little more editing and nit-picking.
Now that the Harry Potter and Twilight series have made such good names for themselves, and made celebrities out of their authors, I think that Rowling and Meyer could probably sell just about anything. As a reader, regardless of how good the book actually is, I would be willing to buy a new book by either author based on the experience I had reading their other works. I think both authors, and their editors and publishers could take advantage of their popularity and sell anything written by them. However, I don’t think this is what anyone wants. The authors do not want to be known as terrible writers, and unless their books continue to at least maintain average quality, readers will eventually catch on.
Celebrity authors should want to be associated with high-quality writing ability and subject matter, and should not settle for anything less just because their name will sell their books. In the end both the readers and celebrity authors will suffer if the editors and publishers do not do their job.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Research Proposal

For my research paper I want to discuss the issue of social class in literature, as it also relates to real life. The two books I want to focus on are The Outsiders and Pride and Prejudice. Although the stories are very different, the characters in both books come to the conclusion that social status is not as important as it is made out to be.
In The Outsiders there is a gap between the rich and poor characters most distinctly defined by the gangs, The Greasers and The Socs. Just the names of the gangs begin to show the difference in social status between the two groups. The difference in social class is the source of hate towards each other and reason they are constantly be at odds. Throughout the book, however, several of the characters in both groups realize that they are dealing with many of the same issues despite their social standing. People in both classes have family problems, strong friendships, and are figuring out who they are. By the end of The Outsiders this rift between the groups leads to death on both sides. The deaths are unnecessary and help to further show that social status does not have to divide people.
In Pride and Prejudice the social class divider is again very obvious, yet sets the people apart in a totally different way. The Bennets, a middle class family, still intermingle with the upper class, such as the Bingleys and Darcys but their inferior class causes issues on both sides. Although both Elizabeth and Jane end up marrying into the upper class, their social status works against them for most of the book. These marriages demonstrate that despite social class the characters can still relate and bring each other love and happiness. Distinct from The Outsiders, Pride and Prejudice shows characters, like Mr. Collins and Mr. Wickham, that are trying to work their way into upper class or that truly believe they are inferior because of a middle class standing.
I plan to use both of these books as well as articles about how social class can affect people’s attitude towards others for my research paper. I chose this topic because I feel that it is important for adolescents to understand that different backgrounds do not have to divide people. Reading books such as these show two distinct examples of the problems that this sort of attitude brings. Even though these books tell completely different stories and are written with different styles, they share this similarity showing that social status is an label that leads to unnecessary conflict.