Thursday, February 19, 2009

Words and stories

I was reading Lois Lowry's blog this morning. She is a children's writer. In her post, It Is My Hope That glub glub glub, she's protesting fiction writing for the sake of sending a message as opposed to focusing on writing a great story that kids want to read. In No smoking, please. Or Guidebooks she's protesting the use of guidebooks because "guidebooks keep us from creating independent readers" (meaning, in part, kids who love to read on their own.) It also isn't uncommon for kids to read the guidebooks instead of the book, reading only for the purpose of answering the questions or passing the tests and as a result they never read the actual book.

She says, "In the west, guidebooks . . . are not advised in schools. Instead, students are encouraged to make their own interpretations of texts with guidance from teachers. As long as our students justify their answers with good reasons, they are right, considering that no two readers will interpret the same text in the same way."

An alternative to guidebooks? She says, "Most importantly, teachers could use strategies and techniques that require complete reading of the text, and make their classroom activities so stimulating, thrilling and satisfying that students may never feel the need to use guidebooks. This will go a long way in instilling love for reading and creating life-long readers."

At it's best, reading God's stories and wanting to read God's stories is more than reading. Any reading of good fiction and non-fiction will be more than reading. I think that's the power of the "word." But I think her thoughts have implications for the way we handle the stories of the original Word.

Can the stories of scripture be so stimulating, thrilling and satisfying (without changing the text) that we don't need to be didactic? Can we set up the stories of scripture in such a way that the stories speak loud and clear? We can take a moralistic, lesson-oriented, didactic approach or we can try to instill in children a love and passion for what they're reading and for this God we want them so badly to know. Which do you think will last longer and have the greater affect on a child's life? Some might say the two approaches don't have to be mutually exclusive. I'm not sure. Are the morals in the text or have we devised them ourselves? I have to go back and look.

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