Tuesday, June 14, 2016

flag day

I've been thinking more about Flag Day. The mere sight of our flag stirs up great feelings of patriotism and love of our country in me. I see it and I see freedom and justice and equality and opportunity — a radical vision of how life on earth can be.

Maybe we should take Flag Day as a day to vow that that's what this flag will mean to *everyone* who sees it. During various blips of history, the American flag has indeed meant those things to just about everyone. In other times, when people see it they might think "That flag represents the people who needlessly slaughtered my innocent-bystander cousins," or "That flag represents victimization of my entire people." And validly so.

Old Glory is never more than a generation away from being a symbol of pure evil, and it's never more than a generation away from surpassing even what it has stood for at its very best.

It all comes down to how I talk, how I vote, how I spend my money and time. I renew my pledge that they will point toward liberty and justice — for all.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

kids and abridgement

A friend asks: what do you think about having kids read abridged versions of classics as a whet for the real thing later?

There are classics and then there are classics and then there are classics.

1. Folktales (broadly considered - Norse and Greek and Roman myth, for instance)
2. Children's books that have been around (Pooh, Stuart Little, Wind in the Willows)
3. Canonical literature that's often marketed to kids (Treasure Island, Ivanhoe)

1 - I see no reason not to have several versions of the various tales around, from simple picture-books to readers of various levels — there's often no one "real" version anyway.

2 - In general, children's books should be in their original version, so you may have to wait a bit till the kid is old enough. Abridged Narnia? Harry Potter? It seems almost not worth doing at all, right?

3 - All those Walter Scott and Alice Tisdale Hobarth books are wonderful campfire storytelling but I don't see any crime in adaptations so that younger ones can get to the stories. I had a "Moby-Dick (Abridged Version)" that was no more than about 20 pages when I was a kid! Hah! What on earth! But hey, what the heck. Certainly we do the same thing with our bowdlerized and simplified (and often heretical) Noah and Jonah and David and Daniel books, and rarely think anything of it.

The question, then, is where you'd put Little Women and Jo's Boys. Is it a 2 or a 3? Hm. On reflection I think I'd call it a 2 and let 'em read the real thing when ready. Same with the "Little House" books.

As a rule, 2s are good for reading aloud to the kid — the parental voice has its own rhythm and logic, and a kid can be thereby expanded.