Tuesday, July 03, 2007

On boys, book bargains, and bullying back the blues

For $1.88 I purchased a hard back copy of Alex Rider; The Gadgets. This highly confidential book contains the blueprints for super-spy Alex Rider's various spy tools and spy weapons. I haven't introduced Alex to my blog audience yet, but hold onto your hats, when I finally get around to writing a booktalk for Stormbreaker you're going to run, not walk, to your nearest web portal and order the series faster than a counter spy's bullet. The Gadgets has fold-out pages with cross-section diagrams of Alex's high tech contraptions, including a "multi-function game console", a "high tensile yo-yo", and a "cutter CD player". On the same clearance table at the U of U bookstore I found a hard back copy of Amazing Grace and John Green's Looking For Alaska.

On the whole books for boys and books for girls debate I have two, fairly contradictory positions. First, I don't think we ought to be constantly and overtly classifying books as "good for girls" or "good for boys." Individual kids have preferences and personalities that are way too complex and slippery for such rigidity. And almost all good books are also too interesting for such clean classifications. However, I think it's important to keep both our boy students and our girl students in mind as we build classroom libraries and as we select books to read and promote. My last few booktalks, for example, have represented an effort to make sure there's a broad variety of books in my booktalking repertoire. One of my strengths in this realm is that I've always been such a voracious reader that my personal tastes encompass territories that are more boyish and also territories that are more girlish. I can honestly say, about lots and lots and lots of books: I read this and I liked it. And (depending on the kid) I think you'll like it too.

Since I've been back home for a while now, I think it's safe to say I weathered the storm of being at my in-law's for two weeks pretty well. I'm sticking to my whole theory, regarding my mental wellness, which is based on the book Stumbling on Happiness: Finding ways to avoid getting depressed in the first place are way more effective than finding ways out, once I'm there. Thanks to everyone who contributed to those prevention efforts: through twitters, phone calls, email, and happy thought waves. Now I just want to become more skilled at predicting situations where I need to be extra vigilant about taking care of my mental health.

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