Kid Logic

Oct. 2nd, 2011 07:31 am
sartorias: (Default)
Let's see if I can get my posts done--the resident Ophelia-cat has decided that the monkey who smells like dog is all right after all (certainly has been properly trained in the application of fingernails in all the right places) and so, of all the spots in this entire apartment, my keyboard is the most desirable.

Anyhow, today's post is about the kid's eye view of the world. I try to keep those short, but there are so many examples of how we tried to figure out how the world worked, when we were apprehensive that a question would for some completely unfathomable reason get us into trouble. Or expression! When I was seven, and lost both of my front teeth, the air on the gum holes hurt, so I amended my expression of "Shucks!" to "Shuck!" No problemo at school, but when I got home and exclaimed it over I forget what, I got whaled on by my dad, and I could not for the life of me figure out how or why.

So it was always safest to navigate our little boats away from the adult steamships, which led to some very curious worldviews indeed. I love collecting such stories.

Kid Logic

Oct. 2nd, 2011 07:31 am
sartorias: (Default)
Let's see if I can get my posts done--the resident Ophelia-cat has decided that the monkey who smells like dog is all right after all (certainly has been properly trained in the application of fingernails in all the right places) and so, of all the spots in this entire apartment, my keyboard is the most desirable.

Anyhow, today's post is about the kid's eye view of the world. I try to keep those short, but there are so many examples of how we tried to figure out how the world worked, when we were apprehensive that a question would for some completely unfathomable reason get us into trouble. Or expression! When I was seven, and lost both of my front teeth, the air on the gum holes hurt, so I amended my expression of "Shucks!" to "Shuck!" No problemo at school, but when I got home and exclaimed it over I forget what, I got whaled on by my dad, and I could not for the life of me figure out how or why.

So it was always safest to navigate our little boats away from the adult steamships, which led to some very curious worldviews indeed. I love collecting such stories.

Today

Sep. 11th, 2011 05:19 am
sartorias: (Default)
At BVC, the others decided to commemorate 9/11 on the blog today. I thought about it, and decided that I had nothing to say that hasn't already been said over and over, and further, I did not want to read the news today, or much of anything else about it. (I will do my best to avoid politicians using that terrible day in order to hammer us with political exhortations.) If I wasn't willing to read about it, then why would I write about it.

So I put my Sunday topic up a few days ago--The problem of kids and sf--which I already linked here, but I am linking again because some interesting comments turned up. Seems there is more sf out there than I thought, and more coming.

Today

Sep. 11th, 2011 05:19 am
sartorias: (Default)
At BVC, the others decided to commemorate 9/11 on the blog today. I thought about it, and decided that I had nothing to say that hasn't already been said over and over, and further, I did not want to read the news today, or much of anything else about it. (I will do my best to avoid politicians using that terrible day in order to hammer us with political exhortations.) If I wasn't willing to read about it, then why would I write about it.

So I put my Sunday topic up a few days ago--The problem of kids and sf--which I already linked here, but I am linking again because some interesting comments turned up. Seems there is more sf out there than I thought, and more coming.
sartorias: (Default)
via [livejournal.com profile] janni, a sympathetic and sensible article about fanfiction and encouraging kids to write.
sartorias: (Default)
via [livejournal.com profile] janni, a sympathetic and sensible article about fanfiction and encouraging kids to write.
sartorias: (Default)
I can't be the only one who loved to play secret spies as a kid.

Well, I know I wasn't. I used to meet the occasional other teen who loved Man from U.N.C.L.E. and many of the stories I did. One of my stories about kids as spies was my most popular among those who knew about them. (And having an inner circle was also fun.)

Tangential to that, do you find setting as part of reading pleasure? Now, I can pull a book out of my bag at any time--I always carry one if I'm to be stuck in waiting rooms or long lines. (Like I said the other day, carrying Anton Strout's Deader Still has kept me sane during far too many waiting rooms of late.) But for true reading pleasure, I don't choose to be standing in line trying to ignore the increasing pain in my hip joints and feet by sinking into my book, and I tend to shy away from reading fiction at this computer, when I am increasingly aware that I should be attending to other things. My fiction-reading chair, where I can relax my body, is my preferred reading spot.

Tangential to that, I've been keeping an eye on the development of ARGs. Part of my secret spies playing as a kid was the invention of secret fiction to be participated in while being yourself in reality, and I wrote about that in the story I mentioned. Codes--cover stories--disgtuises--drops that mean something to the chosen and nothing to everyone passing by--oh, what fun that was! Of course it was all seeming in realspace--we weren't spies, except in the limited Harriet the Spy sense (now there was an author who totally understood, and what a thrill to discover her when I was still a kid playing these games), but the possibilities could be explored more fully in storyspace.

My writing partner and I brushed briefly against the intersection of fiction and ARG gaming space a couple summers back, but the ideas were so new that the techwizards didn't understand us and we didn't have enough of their vocabulary to break through their perception boundaries and bring them into ours. So the possibility faded to might-have-been, but meanwhile I am on the watch for new, innovative fictional formats.

And so when I heard about Shadow Unit I was intensely interested. I still am. What we have here are a bunch of writers whose work I enjoy individually coming together in a hive mind to create a complex story platform to be experienced in realtime. My limitation here is that I don't have a handheld reading device that can download things, and for me, that would increase the pleasure exponentially.

Just think. I'm stuck in a traffic grid, and if I had a handheld, I could follow the blogs of the characters, or visit the wiki for more data, or read an episode and then track its traces over the net. Then I drive on, and come to a waiting room . . . and pick up more data, which I can think about while waiting for a dull conference to begin.

The storyline concerns a TV show that never was, an investigative unit on the periphery of the real ones, and the sort of creepy "other" that Stephen King and so forth have built huge careers evoking. What's not to like?

As soon as I am able to get my tech updated to this century, I will be catching up, and playing spies again with just as much fun as I did as a kid. More, because I'll be able to hook up with other fans in cyberspace.
sartorias: (Default)
I can't be the only one who loved to play secret spies as a kid.

Well, I know I wasn't. I used to meet the occasional other teen who loved Man from U.N.C.L.E. and many of the stories I did. One of my stories about kids as spies was my most popular among those who knew about them. (And having an inner circle was also fun.)

Tangential to that, do you find setting as part of reading pleasure? Now, I can pull a book out of my bag at any time--I always carry one if I'm to be stuck in waiting rooms or long lines. (Like I said the other day, carrying Anton Strout's Deader Still has kept me sane during far too many waiting rooms of late.) But for true reading pleasure, I don't choose to be standing in line trying to ignore the increasing pain in my hip joints and feet by sinking into my book, and I tend to shy away from reading fiction at this computer, when I am increasingly aware that I should be attending to other things. My fiction-reading chair, where I can relax my body, is my preferred reading spot.

Tangential to that, I've been keeping an eye on the development of ARGs. Part of my secret spies playing as a kid was the invention of secret fiction to be participated in while being yourself in reality, and I wrote about that in the story I mentioned. Codes--cover stories--disgtuises--drops that mean something to the chosen and nothing to everyone passing by--oh, what fun that was! Of course it was all seeming in realspace--we weren't spies, except in the limited Harriet the Spy sense (now there was an author who totally understood, and what a thrill to discover her when I was still a kid playing these games), but the possibilities could be explored more fully in storyspace.

My writing partner and I brushed briefly against the intersection of fiction and ARG gaming space a couple summers back, but the ideas were so new that the techwizards didn't understand us and we didn't have enough of their vocabulary to break through their perception boundaries and bring them into ours. So the possibility faded to might-have-been, but meanwhile I am on the watch for new, innovative fictional formats.

And so when I heard about Shadow Unit I was intensely interested. I still am. What we have here are a bunch of writers whose work I enjoy individually coming together in a hive mind to create a complex story platform to be experienced in realtime. My limitation here is that I don't have a handheld reading device that can download things, and for me, that would increase the pleasure exponentially.

Just think. I'm stuck in a traffic grid, and if I had a handheld, I could follow the blogs of the characters, or visit the wiki for more data, or read an episode and then track its traces over the net. Then I drive on, and come to a waiting room . . . and pick up more data, which I can think about while waiting for a dull conference to begin.

The storyline concerns a TV show that never was, an investigative unit on the periphery of the real ones, and the sort of creepy "other" that Stephen King and so forth have built huge careers evoking. What's not to like?

As soon as I am able to get my tech updated to this century, I will be catching up, and playing spies again with just as much fun as I did as a kid. More, because I'll be able to hook up with other fans in cyberspace.
sartorias: (Default)
This year’s ballot is being circulated around--which includes the jury selections for the Andre Norton Award.

2008 was my toughest year ever for jury reading. Ever.

There were so many good books for kids in 2008 that picking a final list was extraordinarily difficult. I promised myself that I would make a post about the ones that didn't get onto the list, and why, for whatever good that may do . . . if a handful of readers try some books that might not have, well, then it's worthwhile.

I'm not speaking for my fellow jurors, now, only for myself. Each of us had to define their own criteria. One person had not read widely in young adult books, and so came with a fresh POV. We all exhibited a range of tastes, ages, reading experiences.

Here’s the dilemma with jurying for a young adult award: we’re adults judging books written by adults intended to be read by kids. In the past, when I’ve talked about this with parents of students, the reaction has ranged from “Adults have taste and life experience—as a parent, you wouldn’t sent your nine year old to live alone in the city--what’s the problem with declaring what is best for a child to read?” to “Let the kids decide for themselves.”

The first answer tends to lean in the direction of books deemed good for you, which kids have railed against for the two hundred years since children’s literature was first invented as a genre. In addition to kids' allergic reaction to stories that shake an admonishing finger at them, telling them what to think, there is the problem of books so subtle and sophisticated that while adults swoon over them, kids can bounce pretty hard. For them, those same subtle texts are boring, confusing, or both.

At the other end of the spectrum is the complaint that kids will read anything if it catches their eye, no matter how awkwardly written or wooden by adult standards. I think the problem is not just about how kids love crap, but about the fact that kids change as rapidly in their reading tastes as they change sizes in shoes and clothes.

When I taught third grade, at the end of the year, the class voted Day My Butt Went Psycho as the best book ever. But by fourth grade, most of them already considered it babyish, and by sixth grade they thought it was stupid. A good teacher can carefully take a class through Out of the Dust, the Newbery winner that often exemplifies this divide between what adults and kids will reach for. Kids can come to appreciate that book, if it’s been sympathetically taught. And their intellectual reading muscles will be exercised to their benefit. But will it remain a life favorite? So far I haven't met a kid who makes that claim, and I wonder if maybe the perfect audience for that book is freshmen English in college.

At any rate, my criteria finally settled on lifelong appeal. What book do I think I would have loved as a kid, and still find worth reading later on in life?

Obviously what I’d like as a kid isn’t going to work for all kids. Didn’t then, so of course it wouldn’t now. I remember in fourth grade the divide between those who liked horse books, those who liked “silly” books, those who liked Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys, and a pair of girls who preferred nurse novels, preferably with dying children, though everybody else in the class despised that type of story. But any kind of award criteria are going to be subjective, and no one’s criteria will perfectly match another’s. We do what we can, and when we’re on a jury, we negotiate and compromise.
Read more... )
sartorias: (Default)
This year’s ballot is being circulated around--which includes the jury selections for the Andre Norton Award.

2008 was my toughest year ever for jury reading. Ever.

There were so many good books for kids in 2008 that picking a final list was extraordinarily difficult. I promised myself that I would make a post about the ones that didn't get onto the list, and why, for whatever good that may do . . . if a handful of readers try some books that might not have, well, then it's worthwhile.

I'm not speaking for my fellow jurors, now, only for myself. Each of us had to define their own criteria. One person had not read widely in young adult books, and so came with a fresh POV. We all exhibited a range of tastes, ages, reading experiences.

Here’s the dilemma with jurying for a young adult award: we’re adults judging books written by adults intended to be read by kids. In the past, when I’ve talked about this with parents of students, the reaction has ranged from “Adults have taste and life experience—as a parent, you wouldn’t sent your nine year old to live alone in the city--what’s the problem with declaring what is best for a child to read?” to “Let the kids decide for themselves.”

The first answer tends to lean in the direction of books deemed good for you, which kids have railed against for the two hundred years since children’s literature was first invented as a genre. In addition to kids' allergic reaction to stories that shake an admonishing finger at them, telling them what to think, there is the problem of books so subtle and sophisticated that while adults swoon over them, kids can bounce pretty hard. For them, those same subtle texts are boring, confusing, or both.

At the other end of the spectrum is the complaint that kids will read anything if it catches their eye, no matter how awkwardly written or wooden by adult standards. I think the problem is not just about how kids love crap, but about the fact that kids change as rapidly in their reading tastes as they change sizes in shoes and clothes.

When I taught third grade, at the end of the year, the class voted Day My Butt Went Psycho as the best book ever. But by fourth grade, most of them already considered it babyish, and by sixth grade they thought it was stupid. A good teacher can carefully take a class through Out of the Dust, the Newbery winner that often exemplifies this divide between what adults and kids will reach for. Kids can come to appreciate that book, if it’s been sympathetically taught. And their intellectual reading muscles will be exercised to their benefit. But will it remain a life favorite? So far I haven't met a kid who makes that claim, and I wonder if maybe the perfect audience for that book is freshmen English in college.

At any rate, my criteria finally settled on lifelong appeal. What book do I think I would have loved as a kid, and still find worth reading later on in life?

Obviously what I’d like as a kid isn’t going to work for all kids. Didn’t then, so of course it wouldn’t now. I remember in fourth grade the divide between those who liked horse books, those who liked “silly” books, those who liked Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys, and a pair of girls who preferred nurse novels, preferably with dying children, though everybody else in the class despised that type of story. But any kind of award criteria are going to be subjective, and no one’s criteria will perfectly match another’s. We do what we can, and when we’re on a jury, we negotiate and compromise.
Read more... )
sartorias: (Default)
Today Catholic Bibliophagist talks about bringing back the intensity of a childhood read. For anyone writing for kids, an exercise like this is not only fun, but might be a good exercise.
Read more... )
sartorias: (Default)
Today Catholic Bibliophagist talks about bringing back the intensity of a childhood read. For anyone writing for kids, an exercise like this is not only fun, but might be a good exercise.
Read more... )
sartorias: (Default)
Truth, lies, pies and what the kids think of what I do.

My head is full of lyre-backed chairs and the glint of sun far, far in the north as a drakan prow surges, cracking ice, and on the problems of point-of-view and why can't I find a decent synonym for 'trouble' that means what I need it to mean? and no, no, not that character, no, go away images, I want that one to--

"Mom?"

live, no maybe the images will change if I wait, and anyway I need to research early mattresses so that, oh yeah, but first remember to go back through to clarify that yin-thread about the song with the inverted fifth and its yang about how rumor metastasizes--

"Mom! Drive me to Brian's house!"

"Oh. Okay. Sorry. My brain was--"

"Your brain is always--" Hand gesture to match mine. "When are you ever going to make any money, so we can fix the door, and get a real couch?"

"Sorry, kiddo, I'm trying hard as I can." Open door, start car, sit at super long red light and oh, see, there are the lights hissing across the sky, reflections on the rain wet sails...

"Mom, what's for dinner?"

"How about if I make tacos? Nothing that heats up the kitchen too bad."

Biscuits! If they're making pan-biscuits over the campfire when the...
sartorias: (Default)
Truth, lies, pies and what the kids think of what I do.

My head is full of lyre-backed chairs and the glint of sun far, far in the north as a drakan prow surges, cracking ice, and on the problems of point-of-view and why can't I find a decent synonym for 'trouble' that means what I need it to mean? and no, no, not that character, no, go away images, I want that one to--

"Mom?"

live, no maybe the images will change if I wait, and anyway I need to research early mattresses so that, oh yeah, but first remember to go back through to clarify that yin-thread about the song with the inverted fifth and its yang about how rumor metastasizes--

"Mom! Drive me to Brian's house!"

"Oh. Okay. Sorry. My brain was--"

"Your brain is always--" Hand gesture to match mine. "When are you ever going to make any money, so we can fix the door, and get a real couch?"

"Sorry, kiddo, I'm trying hard as I can." Open door, start car, sit at super long red light and oh, see, there are the lights hissing across the sky, reflections on the rain wet sails...

"Mom, what's for dinner?"

"How about if I make tacos? Nothing that heats up the kitchen too bad."

Biscuits! If they're making pan-biscuits over the campfire when the...
sartorias: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] sarah_prineas has a nifty discussion going on about the different skill sets involved in writing for kids as opposed to writing for adults. She opens with a teaser sure to goose many hard-working writers for kids, reporting something some sf writer said about setting aside his adult book and knocking out something for kids.

Of course many spoke up about how much better YA is than so many other things...but someone brought up a line of really schlocky kid books that are selling like hotcakes. So, yeah, who's the really discerning audience, kids or those who buy kidsbooks for kids.

What do kids choose to read? Well, my experience is, it depends on the kid. The indefatigable readers will read anything, if it has a modicum of appeal (and the omnivoracious readers will read anything at all, if they're stuck somewhere without a book). They're reading good stuff as well as schlock. I know I sure did as a kid. I didn't begin sifting out schlock until I became aware that some stories were so very predictable that I always knew what was coming next, but something about the way they were written made it not fun to get there, while others were fun to read even though I knew what was coming next. Those latter ones turned out to be rereads, and many of them are favorites now. A few...not so much.

These proto reading protocols were developing completely independently of what teachers were exhorting me to regard as Good. So much of what they considered Good was merely Good For You and boring. A scarce few were Good For You and interesting, but those were so rare I'd begun to separate out school reading and my own reading from about age nine or so.

Anyway, the writing skill set? The way I see it is akin to screenwriting. When you write for kids, the pacing is different, it is usually zippier. Another thing, one needs to remember the kids-eye view. Of course there are many excellent writers who write for kids at a sustained, dream-like pace, from the adult POV, but those are rare. On the sentence level, I seem the successful (and good) writers setting aside their fondness for semi-colons and em-dash laden sentences in favor of short and brisk, but with no less color, no fewer vigorous verbs. Just not as many subordinate clauses clipped onto the main thought.
sartorias: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] sarah_prineas has a nifty discussion going on about the different skill sets involved in writing for kids as opposed to writing for adults. She opens with a teaser sure to goose many hard-working writers for kids, reporting something some sf writer said about setting aside his adult book and knocking out something for kids.

Of course many spoke up about how much better YA is than so many other things...but someone brought up a line of really schlocky kid books that are selling like hotcakes. So, yeah, who's the really discerning audience, kids or those who buy kidsbooks for kids.

What do kids choose to read? Well, my experience is, it depends on the kid. The indefatigable readers will read anything, if it has a modicum of appeal (and the omnivoracious readers will read anything at all, if they're stuck somewhere without a book). They're reading good stuff as well as schlock. I know I sure did as a kid. I didn't begin sifting out schlock until I became aware that some stories were so very predictable that I always knew what was coming next, but something about the way they were written made it not fun to get there, while others were fun to read even though I knew what was coming next. Those latter ones turned out to be rereads, and many of them are favorites now. A few...not so much.

These proto reading protocols were developing completely independently of what teachers were exhorting me to regard as Good. So much of what they considered Good was merely Good For You and boring. A scarce few were Good For You and interesting, but those were so rare I'd begun to separate out school reading and my own reading from about age nine or so.

Anyway, the writing skill set? The way I see it is akin to screenwriting. When you write for kids, the pacing is different, it is usually zippier. Another thing, one needs to remember the kids-eye view. Of course there are many excellent writers who write for kids at a sustained, dream-like pace, from the adult POV, but those are rare. On the sentence level, I seem the successful (and good) writers setting aside their fondness for semi-colons and em-dash laden sentences in favor of short and brisk, but with no less color, no fewer vigorous verbs. Just not as many subordinate clauses clipped onto the main thought.

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