How to Turn Twilight into Dracula

I posted the following question on the How to Tutor Your Own Child Facebook yesterday:

If your child’s friends like poorly written but popular books (e.g., Twilight), is it better to
(A) convince your child to avoid these books in favor of better literature, even if no one else he or she knows has read these books
(B) encourage your child to read lower-quality books so he/she can talk to friends about them?

Or is there a C option that’s a better way to encourage a love of reading?

In retrospect, “poorly written” wasn’t exactly what I meant to say.  What I was aiming to do was to draw a distinction between “popular” books (“beach reads,” perhaps) and “literary” books.

The general consensus from FB responses and those I spoke with personally seemed to be that it’s ideal for kids to read a combination of popular and literary books.  Some commenters had good ideas for how to transition between the two.  Tynessa, the mother of an eight-year-old, used the junior version of Moby Dick to get her son interested in the story.  She did the same for Greek mythology.  This is reminiscent of what Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Bauer recommend in their book The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home.  (More on this in my next post.)

Another commenter (and friend), Eleni, suggested easing students from a pop culture book to a literary one that’s somehow related.  Here’s what she wrote:

So: “Do you like the vampires in Twilight? Cool… want to read a book from the 19th century that revolutionized the way we think of vampires? It’s called Dracula.”

You can also use this method in reverse.  If you wanted your child to study Greek mythology, as Tynessa did, you could introduce your child to a relevant “fun” novel–e.g., Rick Riordan’s Lightening Thief series.

Now for some practice.

Let’s say your child likes Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games series.  Can you relate it to anything more literary?

Or what if he or she likes Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series?

Or Pretty Little Liars, by Sara Shepard?  Any ideas for these?

Do any other pop-to-lit connections that come to mind?

drop your comments below.


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