Theodor Seuss Geisel, the man millions of children know as Dr. Seuss, is the second person I will post about on my list of favorite people. Dr. Seuss is known worldwide for his books and drawing, and he is on my list due to the motivation I gain from his artwork. The stories written and illustrated by Dr. Seuss are imaginative, fun, heartfelt, and educational, everything a growing child needs to fall in love with reading. Seuss’ books are fun to read and instrumental in giving children a joyful first impression of reading. As a child I was a reader, I enjoyed stories that were relatable but also outlandish, and Dr. Seuss perfectly blended what I was looking for into what I love. I am something of an author these days, and I really model my methods of story telling to those of the great Dr Seuss. I may never be as talented an illustrator as Seuss, but I just have a desire to bring the joy of reading that I gained from his books to the next generation some day. I know that as long as Dr. Seuss books are being sold, we will never have a shortage of great literature for children, and also for us adults looking to relive a fond part of our childhood.
I love writing, and I have said before in this blog that it just might be my favorite hobby. I especially love creative writing since it is a fantastic avenue for expression and a path to creating my own world on a page. Creative writing gives me full control over every aspect of my stories, so I can make a dog talk or a penguin fly if it progresses the story. I don’t write because I am uncomfortable with how the world is, I write because I love to share a contrasting view from how things actually are in the world. Most of the things I write outside of this blog are works of fiction, I especially enjoy writing children’s stories, because children are still learning how the world works and stories geared towards them can have a more carefree tone while still sharing a serious message. I personally think it is easier to explain some of the more complex themes of life through stories told to children. Even before writing was widely used to tell tales, spoken fables and ancient proverbs were told to children in order to teach them important lessons in life. I like to condense as many important themes as a can into a story made for children because it may be a child’s only chance to form an understanding of the issues they will face in life. Writing is important, it is more than just a hobby or a subject taken in school, writing is a perfect way to share knowledge and express emotion. I may be repeating something I said on an earlier blog, but writing is necessary for the future and I would love to see a renewal of interest in reading in future generations.
There has been quite a bit of talk lately about standardized testing in the school systems, it seems as though almost every other commercial during the news is a political ad bashing standardized tests. Many of these commercials involve parents sitting in meeting room, speaking about how their child is stressed, or about how these tests are taking up a disproportionate amount of time that could be allotted to learning more important things. One of these commercials truly struck me, it involved a father speaking about how his first grader came home drained and depressed from the amount of learning he had to “endure” in school, all due to these tests. That commercial is extremely upsetting to me, not because the child was “drained” from school, but the fact that learning too much at school is considered a bad thing. Maybe it’s just me, or due to my upbringing, but I was always taught to treat school as my job, and I did my best to learn and excel at everything I was taught. If something at school was too hard, I asked my parents for help or did extra research, but I can honestly say I was never so heavily burdened by the amount of work given at school that I felt like quitting. I understand that everybody learns at a different pace, and I feel as though schools are doing their best to work with everyone, but this commercial made it seem as though this child was just going to school for fun, then he happened to be blindsided by the necessity of learning. As for standardized testing, I don’t agree that it should be used to grade teachers, I think it should be used as a benchmark for student growth. Students should be required to take a test at the start and at the midpoint of each year to assess their growth, and teachers should be rated on the overall growth of their students, as well as individual grades. The United States is already falling behind other countries when it comes to math, science, and even reading, so I find it hard to believe that lightening the workload will help us catch up. I am not fully sure of what will come out of these standardized testing debates, but one thing I do know is that the actual learning aspect of school must stay the most important, in order for the United States to stay intellectually relevant in this ever changing world.
I was thinking today that I haven’t read any good poetry in a very long time, perhaps I am just looking in the wrong places or maybe poetry isn’t as popular as it once was, but I really used to enjoy it and I would love to find some good poetry books. There are many famous poets that have helped shape the landscape of literature but there is one in which I remember fondly, and a poem I could never forget. That author is Robert Frost and the poem is “The Road Not Taken.”
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
I read this poem a long time ago, possibly over 15 years ago, and it makes more sense to me now as an adult. Not to say it was a confusing poem as a child, but that I didn’t have the life experience to fully understand it. In this poem the narrator is unsure of which path to take, and when he decides which one to take, he is pleased with his final decision. The line in this poem that strikes me most is the final one, I am of the school of thought that believes everything will turn out fine, if you are able to fight through the difficulty. The final line of this poem makes it seem as though traveling the less traveled path was the modifier in the narrator’s life, when it may have actually just been another event or plot on the line graph that is life. Many people would disagree with my reading of the poem, but that is why I love poetry. Poetry can be read and understood in many different ways, but one thing is true, no matter what the author decided the poem would be about, it is ultimately the reader who makes their own interpretation of the work that brings it to life.
Media of today is changing rapidly, and it is something I welcome for the most part, but it is drawing the ire of many long time fans of effected series. When I say media, I am generally referring to recent adaptations of old television shows, movies, comic books, and in some cases literary books. If you walk over to a comic book stand you may notice something different about Thor and Spider-Man, which is that there are different versions of these famous characters gracing the covers of their respective publication. In the case of Thor you may notice there is now a female Thor, and for Spider-Man you will see an African American teenager portraying the hero. Many long time fans of these comics would immediately have an issue with the changes, but given the trajectory of our culture, these small changes are necessary to maintain relevancy. In recent years it seems the world has become increasingly divided by the notion that change is always bad, and while change isn’t always pleasant, it is almost always necessary to make progress. These new look characters are not being developed for the long time fans of the past, they are being developed for the child who looks like the new character, so all children can see themselves as this character in the future. Marvel, the company behind these comics, has created multiple comic book universes in order to facilitate both the old and the new versions of the characters, and while both comics are still sold, new reports have shown that the female Thor is outselling her more traditional counterpart by 30 percent. The fact that these comic books are selling shows that it is important for media to change, at least a little bit, with the times. It is impossible to please every fan, and with social media the audience displeasure will be extremely loud and clear, but it is better to appeal to the audience who will help you thrive in the future, than to die in the past.
Post apocalyptic fiction is very popular these days, from stories about zombies to random diseases wiping out most of the population, there are many different forms of media related to this genre. I find post apocalyptic fiction intriguing, I love watching the shows and reading the literature related to it, but it is far too unlikely to ever actually happen. I understand that it is fiction so I should really take it with a grain or two of salt, but it is so unlikely that I have to explain my qualms with the genre. The first issue I have with post apocalyptic fiction is the fact that the infrastructure of the cities and countries in which they are based is largely intact. I am not a civil engineer, but from what I know about cities like New York and Chicago, the infrastructure needs almost constant maintenance. If anything like the events of shows such as The Walking Dead, and the Last Man on Earth, ever happened there would be numerous manhole explosions, water main breaks, gas leaks, and power outages. Another issue I have is the total lack of faith in humanity many of these shows portray, humans are very resilient, and if there are more than two in any setting they will use their skills to help each other out, and learn the skills necessary to survive. Many of the titles in this genre exist under a premise that humans are blood thirsty barbarians, only set on survival, completely disregarding the fact that survival takes cooperation in most instances. Post apocalyptic fiction is and always will be a popular genre for storytelling and entertainment, I am just happy that I never have to live in a world where I would have to deal with the reality of a zombie outbreak.
A library is the delivery room for the birth of ideas, a place where history comes to life.
When I was growing up libraries were used mainly for one thing, reading quietly. Libraries were also places to go for studying, doing research, and generally doing projects or tasks that would otherwise be too difficult to do at home with all of the distractions. Libraries were a place to go and think, I used to go to libraries to pick up books, read and learn about new books, and even create my own, many of my ideas were born in libraries. In recent days libraries have seemed to forget why they were special, libraries were never hip or a place for the cool kids to hang out, but they have been turned into small clubs. I can only really speak for the libraries in New York when I say this, but libraries have lost what made them special to a person like myself. A large library was recently built not too far from where I live, and when I looked inside I was shocked to see the library had at least 2 large televisions mounted on the wall, both playing a sporting event. Now as a kid I would have loved to walk into a library to watch the Yankees, but I wasn’t there to watch sports, I went there to read. I noticed at another library that the focus of the public library has shifted from sharing books, to being a multimedia community center. The entire adult literature section was pushed into corners as the central area housed computers and tables where people generally were using their own notebook computers, or those borrowed from the library. I understand that in this day and age computers are necessary to advance in learning and many other areas, and those individuals on computers may have been reading or writing their own literature, but the fact that a gentleman was able to have an uninterrupted telephone conversation at an elevated volume leads me to believe the motives of this library’s patrons were less productive. I used to love the library, and I would love for my children to someday have a chance to discover books with the same freedom I was able to in the library, but in its current state, the library will soon be nothing more than an after school hangout. Hopefully there can be more regulation placed on public libraries in the coming years, to bring the focus back to literature. I would love to see the libraries of yesterday once again become the libraries of tomorrow.
Today I read a blog post that was basically bashing children’s books of the past. One of the books that stuck out to me was, The Giving Tree, and since I have not read that book in a while I decided to check it out once more to see what this guy was complaining about. The Giving Tree is a sweet story about a tree that loves a child, and is willing to give itself for the child’s happiness. In the story the child grows older and increasingly more materialistic, he begins asking for more from the tree. He asks for things the tree cannot provide him with, but the tree still manages to get the boy what he needs. No matter how old the man gets the tree still sees him as a young child and is always happy to see him, and eager to play with him. The tree in this story reminds me of a good parent, while growing up kids go through many phases and changes, they ask their parents for everything, while giving them less time as they grow. Parents in turn give their children what they can and are happy with the child’s happiness, meanwhile the children rarely see the sacrifice, they just see a tree willing to give all it has to them. The writer of the blog, who is a parent, labeled the book as an “introduction to codependency,” since he feels it is detrimental to give everything you are to your child. I see that blogger as a jaded adult and basically a reflection of the child in the book, taking for granted what he has been given as a child and wanting more, I don’t want to speculate too much but I am sure he would give his life for his children. The gentleman who wrote that blog needs to stop looking at children’s books from an adult point of view. The message of The Giving Tree is perfect for a child, its message is to not take what you have for granted because it will not last forever.