This piece ran as an Op-ed in the Bangor Daily News on May 12, 2013.
When Sandy Hook Elementary was rocked by violence on an otherwise ordinary Friday in December, my mind, like that of millions of other parents, flew to my kids’ school. I pictured the shooter in their hallways, threatening their classrooms. And though this was impossibly painful, what was not impossible was imagining their teachers, administrators, even bus drivers, hearing shots and running not away to safety, but toward the shooter to protect the kids–my kids.
That part was easy to imagine, because I see those educators every day.
My kids, 13 and 11, are literate and numerate. They are accomplished musicians. They have plenty of friends. They are resilient, tough, and unafraid of difference. Since kindergarten they have shared classrooms, recess, field trips, concerts, and gym class with kids who have a wild spectrum of diverse abilities and opportunities.
And while my husband and I supplement their education where we can, our children owe their accomplishments to public school.
It has been a long winter here in Maine. Typically cold, but somehow drearier than usual, with many weeks of illness thrown in.
In January my 13-year-old daughter had the flu. Her fever spiked over 102, and she wouldn’t eat anything. As I tried futilely to feed her ice chips on the couch, I pleaded, “Is there ANYTHING I can do that would help?”
She looked at me with those glazed eyes and flushed cheeks, and murmured, “Can you get the Harry Potter CDs from the library?”
What’s a mother to do? I went and picked up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I put disc 1 in the CD player, and pushed play.
And with that touch of a button, we are transported.
“Chapter One: The Boy Who Lived…”
The line between teen and adult fiction has always been blurry. Hot Young Adult titles like The Hunger Games are as popular with women in their 30s and 40s as they are with actual teens. And teens certainly devour adult fiction. Most popular at my library are spy thrillers, mysteries, and science fiction, with occasional classics: Jane Austen, Dickens, Jules Verne, etc. thrown in.
Every year the American Library Association designates the Alex Awards, for adult fiction with high interest to teens. I can’t help wondering: do teens actually read these books?
I decided to try out a recent Alex Award winner.