Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Classic novels to better understand your teen

Parents of boys are no strangers to the commonly reported facts that boys are not as engaged as their sisters in school, that girls' admissions to selective Manhattan nursery schools outstrip boys, and that there are more women than men graduating from most colleges and universities. Along comes a novel way to approach understanding teens, and boys in particular.

David Reinstein, LCSW, recently reported on a list of books for parents of teens to read in order to better understand adolescents. What makes this list refreshing is that it is a list of NOVELS, not How-To Parent guides. "Ten Best Books of Fiction for Parents of Teens to Read" is a brief review of ten classic stories. Except for one, they are all about boys. Here is the list, minus his instructive annotations.

1.Lord of the Flies, by William Golding (1954)
2.Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain (1855)
3.The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. ASalinger (1951)
4.1984, by George Orwell (1949)
5. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison (1952)
6. Animal Farm, by George Orwell (1946)
7.The Naked and the Dead, by Norman Mailer (1948)
8.On the Road, by Jack Kerouac (1957)
9. The Adventures of Augie March, by Saul Bellow (1953)
10. The Call of the Wild by Jack London (1903)

I would say this is a Guys' List of Classic tales. I wonder about two aspects of it:
What would the list look like if we wanted to teach boys compassion, patience, tolerance and humility? Or do these stories do just that?
And,
What would the list look like if we wanted to teach girls about physicality, bravery, adventure and spirit?

It's always a good idea to reach out to the experiences of others to understand our children. The notion of reading novels to plumb their psyches is nothing new to an English teacher but it's a wonderful notion for parents.

Let me know if you have other books to add to such a list. Who knows? Maybe it's the start of a book club.

1 comment:

  1. You pose the question, "What would the list look like if we wanted to teach girls about physicality, bravery, adventure and spirit?"... I suggest that you consider going ahead and drawing one up.
    Thanks for feeling my list was of some value.
    David Reinstein, LCSW

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