Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Battle of the Books

One of the local libraries has a reading challenge for kids in fourth grade through eighth grade. Fourth graders compete with other fourth graders, fifth graders complete with fifth graders, and 6-8 compete with other kids in grades 6-8.

Kids choose their team, ask a parent to be their coach, and the competition begins. They are given a list of 7 books, and have about ten weeks to read the books thoroughly and get ready for questions. The library has a wall of champions, with the names of all the winners going back to 1980 in their children's room.

Perhaps because my kid begged and begged, or perhaps because no other parent was willing, or most likely because I am huge sucker, I am the coach for my oldest's team. I have known most of the kids on the team since they were in preschool, and have coached many of them in the past at roller hockey and little league.

Anyway, the coach does not have to read the books, but it is helpful to have some knowledge of the books to help facilitate the meetings.

I have only read a few of the books so far, and of the three that I have read, two of them are great books I would recommend to any fourth grader. In one book, a kid's face is disfigured by some disease, and she never wants leave her room again. She befriends the cook at her family's diner, and is eventually drawn back out of her room and back into her life.

In the second book, an unpopular kid finds a magical worm. The worm only eats words, and every time the worm eats a word, that word disappears. So when the worm eats the word vending machine, all the vending machine disappear, leaving the candy behind. It is a cute book, and the protagonist is faced with the same challenge that Spider Man faces. With great power comes great responsibility.

The third book is also a great story. A weird kid is befriended by a really poor girl, and the weird kid's mother helps the girl out by buying her clothes and treating her well.

The third book is a very nice story, with one flaw. The weird kids father was a sperm donor.

It is only mentioned a few times during the story, and is not an integral part of the book, but it is exactly the kind of question that will be asked during the competition.

I have no problem with books being written to help empower sperm donor kids. If they need to feel like they are not alone, and there are other kids whose moms went to the sperm bank and made a withdrawal, they should have books. Books can be a powerful therapeutic tool in a child psychologist's arsenal.

But there are so many great children's books out there. And the library only had to choose seven for this competition. To my knowledge, regardless of their sexual education, most fourth graders aren't aware of sperm banks, and the complex reasons women have for going to a sperm bank. Was it really necessary for them to choose a book for this competition that had a sperm bank dad?


Blogger Veev said...

No way is that going to be a question!! I have been to these things before (as a teacher rooting for my students). If any teacher would have heard a question about sperm donation or any other adult sexual theme in the past, the compitition would be no longer! It won't happen.

December 06, 2005 9:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe the organizers haven't actually read the books? (Or at least not closely enough to catch those few references to the sperm donor dad?)

December 06, 2005 9:27 AM  
Blogger Air Time said...

They claim to read these books very carefully.

You don't think they would ask Who is Donuthead's father?

December 06, 2005 9:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

as a 3-time sperm donor, i dont see why air has such a problem with the idea.

and i think fourth graders are a wee bit more knowledgable than wed like to think.

definitely a question at the battle.

looks like the liberals have struck again.

hey air, why dont you tell the man you voted in as rabbi about this so he can write another abrasive and inignant letter to the local jewish rag?

December 06, 2005 3:08 PM  
Blogger Veev said...

--As a 3-time sperm donor, I dont see why Air has such a problem with the idea.

Anon, sperm donors end their responsibilties there. Since, at this very moment Air is entertaining his whiny, tired daughter, you can hardly call him that!

December 06, 2005 4:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

a sperm donor with perks!

December 07, 2005 2:40 AM  
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