A few months ago, Ben and I participated in a facebook forum on the issue of 10th graders being required to read The Kite Runner. The discussion was initiated by a parent who was concerned because her daughter was "crying and dry heaving because of it last night."
(1) From internet lore:
Q: Why are 15 year olds so angry?
A: Because humanity has an ugly side and around 15 is when you start to learn that.
(2) If she had waited until age 18 to read that scene would she have not found it emotionally wrecking? Why or why not? (If I were to read it again this morning to catch up real fast on this facebook conversation would I have (still) found it emotionally wrecking? Spoiler alert: yes)
(3) I think whether she's ready to read and think about that scene depends a lot on what guidance she'll have processing it. If her parents, her teachers, and her peers can help her channel her feelings of devastation into making her more empathetic and more able to imagine others complexly (as John Green likes to say) then she should read the book -- or I suppose should have read the book, it's innocence lost now. If there is no support and she turns bitter and angry, then that's a bad outcome. Statements like "15 is too young to read that book" strike me as lacking a bit too much in nuance.
(4) Paging Kitti Carriker, interested to hear her thoughts on this.
Thanks to Ben for paging me!
I appreciate that!
I was reminded first
of a previous blog post
and a favorite quotation:
"Now, no matter what the mullah teaches, there is only one sin, only one. And that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft. . . . When you kill a man, you steal a life. You steal his wife's right to a husband, rob his children of a father. When you tell a lie, you steal someone's right to the truth. When you cheat, you steal the right to fairness. . . . There is no act more wretched than stealing" (The Kite Runner, 17 - 18). ~ Khaled HosseiniA reader's response to the quotation
took me somewhat by surprise:
Being forced to read the kite runner as a freshman in high school stole my kids innocence. How ironic.To which I followed up:
Do you think reading Kite Runner should be postponed until college? Because of the sexual assault? I don't think Ben & Sam ever had it as assigned reading in highschool or college, though since that time, Ben has read it on his own (not sure about Sam). I have also read A Thousand Splendid Suns -- so much sorrow but also hope.
Further notes from my conversation with Ben about the
earliest books that broke our hearts and left us weeping:
Short Stories by Flannery O'Connor
"A Good Man is Hard to Find"
"Good Country People"
"The Life You Save May Be Your Own"
Short Stories by Ernest Hemingway
"God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen"
"In Another Country"
I'm Done Crying: The Making of A Nurse
I'll Cry Tomorrow
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
A Clockwork Orange
In Cold Blood
Lord of the Flies
The Mayor of Casterbridge
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
To Kill a Mockingbird
Robert Newton Peck
A Day No Pigs Would Die
We the Living
And at an even earlier age:
The Steadfast Tin Soldier
The Little Prince
Harry Potter IV: Goblet of Fire
2. Additional heart - breaking, eye - opening books.
3. Advice from George Bernard Shaw:
"You have learned something.
That always feels at first
as if you have lost something."