Friday, August 22, 2008

Homework Hurdles

"With good people, and this goes all the way back to my grandmother...she didn't tell my dad, "Now you go to the study table." No, no. She said, "I'll meet you at the study table." And that's where your good parents and you're good teachers are."
-OSU football coach Woody Hayes

Its homework time kiddies! Break out the book bags and get yer gray matter in gear.

My daughter is off to a fine start. She wrote a “letter of introduction” to her English teacher last night, (the classic “about me” and “what I did this summer” piece.) It was good. She typed it up on the computer, and brought it down for me to edit three times before printing off the final. I felt like the father in the movie "A River Runs Through it," marking up her work with my red pen, and handing it back saying "Again, and half as long."

During this exercise my son was engaged in twenty minutes of required reading. He picked a book called Halo, based on the ever popular X-Box video game. Momma is none to happy about this. The war game culture of the little boys in our neighborhood disturbs me. Sometimes I feel as if our sons are being marketed to by a secret Spartan military culture.

With his reading completed, his next task was to write a summary paragraph. Unfortunately, this did not work out so well. I asked several questions about what happened in the story, and got some pretty vague answers. So, mom got the fun duty of reading the first chapter of Halo. Holy snooze fest Batman! How in the world did this thing ever manage to get published?!!!! The entire first page is about the character SLEEPING!

Sleeping mind you! Some sort of waking up from cyber ice sleep bullishness. Roll me over and shove a pillow down my throat. No wonder my munchkin could not tell me what happened in the story.

I’m no great writer, (even though I would love to play one on T.V.) but I do know when you write a book, the first rule is to drop the reader into the action on the very first page.


Commander Kel on a mission:

Commander Kel went ballistic over the book, and immediately marched to her personal library to pull a few good examples for Private Munchkin to review.

“Here baby, read the first paragraph of this book, it’s a war story too, but written a lot better.”
(I know, War again, but ya gotta meet em where they're at, right?)

Thus my boy and I read the first page of Homer’s Iliad together. It’s more than a little above his grade level, but I think he saw my point about writing style in the example.

Then Commander Kel goes on a hunt around the house for age appropriate books he might like. I pulled six from the shelves, and he settled on Everlost by Neal Shusterman. Shusterman is a great writer. I highly recommend him.

For those of you looking for "just right books" to foster a love of reading in your child, you might want to visit The Database of Award-Winning Children's Literature (DAWC). Reference librarian Lisa Bartle put together this wonderful site with a customized search engine. You can plug in your child's age, interests, language, and even search using specific key words like "rock climbing", or "bugs," whatever your little tyke likes. Thanks to her site I now have a whole years worth of non war like ideas for age approriate books my son is sure to enjoy.

Till next time, This is Commander Kel saying "Over and Out."


The Anti-Wife said...

Good for you for actually caring about what he reads and showing him something better. Thanks for visiting my blog. I have relatives in Powell.

Kel-Bell said...

You have Republicans in your family too? LOL

(I think Powell has a law that requires residents to have a "W" bumper sticker on their SUV.)