Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Bookish News

There's lots going on in the book world.  Here are a few of the recent stories that have caught my eye...

  • Around the world, but especially here in the US, we are mourning the loss of one of our society's most well loved poets, Maya Angelou.  Author of 7 autobiographies (including I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings) and multiple collections of essays and poems, she was also a civil rights leader, a journalist, and a professor.  Tributes continue to pour in and her loss will be felt by many.  “No sun outlasts its sunset but will rise again and bring the dawn.”
  •  Actor LeVar Burton has started a Kickstarter campaign to bring his long-running children's show Reading Rainbow back for a new generation.  The idea is to put Reading Rainbow on the web and make it free and accessible to children and classrooms all over.  As someone who grew up watching this show and learning so much from it, I am so excited to see it being brought back.  Visit his campaign page to contribute.
  • Though it has been finished since 1926, J. R. R. Tolkien's translation of Beowulf is only now available for readers.  Unlike other translations, it is in prose form.  Let the comparisons to Heaney's translation begin!
  • UK Education Secretary Michael Gove recently announced his decision to remove American classics like Of Mice and Men and To Kill a Mockingbird from the list of required reading for British students.  Mr. Gove contends that there should be more emphasis on British classics saying "I want pupils to grow up able to empathise with Jane Eyre as well as Lennie, to admire Elizabeth Bennet as much as Scout Finch."  My first thought is that some people are taking the criticism too far.  This is hardly a "ban" on American books.  However, I do feel that dividing literature into nationalistic categories may not be the best idea.  Great literature doesn't speak just to a specific nation, time, or society, but rather to the human condition as a whole.  I'd be interested to hear what British readers think of this.
Got any thoughts on the above stories?  Have any other bookish news stories?  Share in the comments!


Hannah said...

You shouldn't get me started on Michael Gove! He's the most hated MP in the UK. He treats teachers with utter contempt and as if they're glorified babysitters. See, I told you that you shouldn't get me started :D I'm not a fan of his new decision at all. It's not as if British schools don't teach British literature and if anything I think schools could really do with focusing more on international literature. Children's horizons need to be broadened. I get so annoyed when I hear people saying that classics should be dropped from schools and that kids should read more "relevant" books.

I really loved this open letter from a young girl about Gove's new decision. I thought you might like to read it:

hopeinbrazil said...

My kids grew up watching Reading Rainbow. Thanks for letting me know about this project. I enjoyed all the literary news.