What We Talk About When We Talk About Reading

On Friday, I wrote about my choice to teach Animal Farm. One of my students, whom we'll call...

On Friday, I wrote about my choice to teach Animal Farm.

One of my students, whom we'll call Michael R., tried repeatedly to engage with Animal Farm and complete the assignments. But stymied by his middle-school reading level and my insufficient efforts to break down the book, he never ended up finishing the text. He and I sat down recently to talk about why he asked each day if he could burn his copy.

By Michael R., as told to me:

My earliest memories of reading are about comic books. That's still today what I like to read. I like to read Batman and Robin, 300, Spider-Man, Superman, the Fantastic Four, Justice League, Avengers, that's basically it. They're not real, but they bring you in. It's something you can sit down and read over and over again. To me, they give joy. Laughter. And they show the picture–it's pretty awesome.

I so-so like to read. I'm the type of person that I read when I feel like I should or when it's fun, and that's rarely. Why don't I read more? Because I don't find books that interesting. It was hard for me to focus when I was little because when I was little my ADHD was bad, and it was hard for me to focus. My mom put me on pills so I could stay focused and stuff. My grades went up, and I tried to stay focused in school.

Honestly, I think I'm on like an eighth or ninth-grade reading level. My head is normally barely in the book. I know it's not at my grade level yet. It could be, and it will be. When I was little, I never, ever picked up a book. My mom would be like you have to read, you have to, and I would say, "Whatever, Mom." Finally in like eighth grade, that's when I started reading and started enjoying it. But I always read comic books. Always. I used to like looking at the dictionary, too, which is really weird.

I have multiple favorite books. PUSH. The Face on the Milk Carton. Babe Ruth. Lord of the Rings. I also liked Cat in the Hat. I'm serious. Cat in the Hat might be the best book ever. Dr. Seuss is awesome.

I don't like Harry Potter, Twilight, Animal Farm. It's most likely going to be the same with Night, too.

When I read, I feel like I'm in a whole different world. When I read books I like and I'm into it, I feel like I'm the main character and it's describing me, like I'm the person they're talking about. It takes away from everything going on around me and I just sit there and read and keep on. There was one book I read, a medieval book, and my mother walked in on me. And she was surprised I was reading. I mean, I was quiet. She thought something was wrong with me. Sometimes I just play video games, and I don't look at a book, but when I'm into a book I read it.

The other thing about reading is that it could give you a big vocabulary. People are so used to hearing screaming and cursing and then you hit them with a big word and they give you a dumbfounded face.

When I heard about Animal Farm, I knew it was going to be corny. I thought it was going to be a kiddie book, and I thought it was the worst idea to make that book. I'm sorry to the author who made it, but it was the worst book ever. I just hated it. From the middle, before the end, when it actually did get interesting, five pages before the book was done, it was horrible. It lost me. I'm like, huh? I couldn't get into it. I read mostly the whole book, but I got so bored of it eventually I stopped reading it.

I felt like Animal Farm was a disgrace to class. If I didn't have to pay for it, I'd take all of them and burn them.

Brendan Lowe is a Teach for America corps member who is in his second year of teaching high school in the South Bronx. His dispatch for GOOD normally appears on Fridays.

Image (cc) via Ben Templesmith's Flickr Photostream.

via Jim Browing / YouTube

Jim Browning is a YouTuber from the UK who has an amazing ability to catch scammers in the act.

In this video, he responds to a scam email claiming he bought a laptop by breaking into the scammer's computer. In the process he uncovers where the scammers work, their banking information, and even their personal identities.

"I got an 'invoice' email telling me that I had paid for a $3800 laptop," Browning writes on his YouTube page. "No links... just a phone number. It's a real shame that these scammers emailed me because I was able to find out exactly who they were and where the were."

Keep Reading
HG B / YouTube

Danielle Reno of Missouri left her car running and it was stolen by thieves. But she wasn't going to let her car go so easily.

For 48 hours this owner of a pet rescue tracked the charges being made on her credit card. Ultimately, she found her car at a local Applebee's, and then went after the thieves.

Keep Reading
via Bossip / Twitter

Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders took aim at former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg onstage at Wednesday's Las Vegas Democratic debate, likening the billionaire businessman to President Donald Trump and questioning his ability to turn out voters.

Sanders began by calling out Bloomberg for his stewardship of New York's stop and frisk policy that targeted young black men.

Keep Reading