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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Respecting the Reader

       Respect is on the Tossing It Out agenda for this week.   Bloggers and authors alike look to be respected for what they do.   But writerly respect is a two way street between those creating and the audience for whom they create.   When it comes to writing for children or young adults this issue of respect may extend to the community beyond the readers.   

       The content of YA literature can be a sticky topic.  M. Gerrick (or you may know her as Misha Gericke) is currently making her rounds on a book blog tour for her latest release The Vanished Knight.  On today's tour stop she addresses some of the concerns that have been expressed about YA literature and who is responsible for what.

Now let's hear from Misha:

     Lee has generously offered to host me as part of my blog tour (THANKS AGAIN!!!) and asked that, if possible, I should write about something controversial.

      So I thought… I’d write about writing rules and how I do love to break them. But… I’m figuring quite a few of you lovely readers might not be writers. And therefore, you might not give two hoots about how I go about writing, as long as the result entertains.

      Instead, I’m going to go the whole hog and address something about YA Lit that keeps rearing its ugly head. But before I go into that, let me just stick my head into the hornets’ nest.

        There seems to be a group of people who have this idea that a book written for Young Adults needs to have a moral in order for it to be worth being published at all. They believe that books need to be examples, the leading lights to those poor poor directionless young ones.

        My problem with this point of view is, to say the least, multi-faceted. But since I’m trying to keep your attention, I’ll share the main points:

  • Firstly, who is anyone to decide what is and what isn’t worthy of publishing? How much damage has been done in the past by the ignorant burning books they didn’t even read? Censorship is never an acceptable option. NEVER.
  • Secondly, people completely miss-understand the writer’s place in society. We’re not preachers, teachers, parents or leaders when we write. We’re writers. Our job isn’t to teach kids how to think. It’s not even to teach kids to think.
  • Our tertiary job is to take the frame-works that you the parent raise your kids with, or you the teacher teach, or you the preacher preach, and give children a safe, often flexible environment in order to test their beliefs and values. Our secondary job is to reflect situations in some way. To give someone the space to wonder if they would have done the same thing, or whether they’d like to be more than they are. It’s to reflect situations, find resonance with our times, and to show potential, be it good, or just plain hellish. Our primary job? To entertain. Because without the entertainment value of our stories, none of our other functions are possible.
        Morals and lessons aren’t entertaining. Themes, conflicts and plots are. As are twisted characters who curse, kill, drink and do all sorts of things that would make me cringe if it was my own kid doing that.

       But here’s the last big thing for today. Teens are young, but they’re not stupid. Especially not the ones that read. They know the difference between reality and books, and what’s acceptable and where. They make choices based on what they know, or regardless of what they know. But not because of what a book told them. Books have been getting the blame for years, and I believe for one simple reason.

      “Problem” children come from houses with little or no parental guidance. And there will always be parents who would rather blame something that can’t defend itself (that book with gasp!!! sex/drugs/murder/cursing in it) for possible issues that *may* arise, but most often don’t. They will never, however, look at themselves and find themselves lacking in the parenting department. Because that would be too inconvenient for them.  Because then, they’d have to do the raising of their kids instead of teachers or, you guessed it, YA authors who never even met the kid.

         *pulls head out of the hornets’ nest* 

       Thanks all for reading! I’d love to read your thoughts, even if you disagree. Attack my thoughts and beliefs with logic and, who knows? You might sway me. But if you attack me as a person, I’ll just ignore you for the senseless book-burner who probably you are.

And now, on to a lighter note--my book:

Since the death of her parents, Callan Blair has been shunted from one foster family to another, her dangerous secret forcing the move each time. Her latest foster family quickly ships her off to an exclusive boarding school in the Cumbrian countryside. While her foster-brother James makes it his mission to get Callan expelled, a nearby ancient castle holds the secret doorway to another land...

When Callan is forced through the doorway, she finds herself in the magical continent of Tardith, where she’s shocked to learn her schoolmates Gawain and Darrion are respected soldiers in service to the king of Nordaine, one of Tardith's realms. More than that, the two are potential heirs to the Black Knight—Nordaine's crown prince.

But when the Black Knight fails to return from a mysterious trip, the realm teeters on the brink of war. Darrion and Gawain set out to find him, while Callan discovers there is more to her family history than she thought. The elves are claiming she is their princess.

Now with Darrion growing ever more antagonistic and her friendship with Gawain blossoming, Callan must decide whether to stay in Nordaine—where her secret grows ever more threatening—or go to the elves and uncover the truth about her family before war sets the realms afire.

M. Gerrick (AKA Misha Gericke) has basically created stories since before she could write. Many of those stories grew up with her and can be seen in her current projects.

She lives close to Cape Town, South Africa, with a view over False Bay and Table Mountain.

If you’d like to contact her, feel free to mail her at warofsixcrowns(AT)gmail(DOT)com, Circle her on Google Plus or follow her on Twitter. If you'd like to see her writer-side (beware, it's pretty insane), please feel free to check out her blog. You can also add The Vanished Knight on Goodreads.


         Respect is this week's theme on Tossing It Out.   The reason for the theme is because on my Battle of the Bands post of Tuesday October 15th my song pick was "Respect".   If you missed that post please check it out and vote on your favorite version of the song.   My Monday post asked the question Do You Feel Respected As A Blogger?   If you haven't commented on that post I wish you would as it will help me with some valuable information that I will be sharing later.   And please return on Friday when I take the concept of respect to another level.

Thanks For Reading!  Please share this post with others.

Special Addendum!!!
While you're at Amazon buying Misha's book THE VANISHED KNIGHT be sure to check out the following limited offer:


For 5 days only you can get a free download of FAR OUT: The Hiidden Truth by Elbert Derryberry.

 A search for the Hidden Truth! A Futuristic Science Fiction adventure with a Christian slant. The hero travels through both space and time, to challenge the reader to question conventional wisdom and to look for the Hidden Truth.
I know author through the Writers Workshop West, the writing group of which I am a member.  This is Mr. Derryberry's first book.   I encourage you to download the book and give it a read.  It's short so it will be a small investment of your time.  And while it's free the monetary investment is nothing for you.   If you read the book, please don't forget to review it on Amazon.   Support this new author!

Enhanced by Zemanta


  1. I only write to entertain. I do write knowing a ten year old might read my books so there's nothing objectionable in them. But it's all to entertain and take readers to another place.
    Good stuff Misha.

  2. Hi Misha and hi Lee,

    Indeed, a writer's place is not to say this is the way it is. I believe that writing is to be interpreted by the reader and take from it what they will.

    Children who are "problem children", who have problem parents, can quite remarkably, be inspired, learn from their awful childhood and be better than their indifferent parents. And so, their resilience is passed onto their children.

    Misha, you know how delighted I am for the publication of your book. Testimony to your passion and determination.

    Thank you for having Misha on your site, Lee.


  3. Alex I agree with you that if you know your book will be read by certain people, you should adapt your writing accordingly. My book isn't suitable for small kids, since I have NO idea how to write for them. :-D

    Gary, I agree with you that some "problem" children do rise above their circumstances. I simply don't believe in blaming other people if they don't. Thanks for your support!

  4. It's a tricky subject cuz parents dont want to think their kids are exposed to questionable topics, yet they are ALL the time. Censoring it from books is the wrong way to go IMO. But you're right--it's a very controversial subject. Which is why my book is NA--I just didn't wanna go there with YA. lol

    Congrats on your book Misha!!

  5. You take a big risk saying parents are responsible for their kids. Such truths are difficult for many to swallow. But I do agree with you. I'm not trying to teach any moral lessons with my books.

  6. I'm with you on this, Misha. With the themes and such in our stories, I'm sure people do learn from them, but we're not really set out to teach them something. If we were, we would write fables or stories like that where there is supposed to be a moral to the story.

  7. PK I agree with you. I guess my POV is as it is because I was a teen myself very recently, and I still know everything I was exposed to before I turned 20.

    I believe I made the right choices around that stuff because of the hands-on approach my parents took with guiding me.

    Susan, yeah I know it's a risk and I know some people will disagree with me. More's the pity towards humanity. Still, I believe that we writers will need to stand up for what we know we're supposed to stand for, or else censorship will rein supreme. And we all know that never bodes well for anyone.

    Cherie, I agree with you. There are fables and allegories that are amazing and wonderful and have their place in the world. And I'm not saying that they should stop existing. But I'd probably have stopped reading if fables and allegories were the only things I could read.

    And, as you said, people can learn from our books, but not because we force them to.

  8. Hi, Arlee & Misha,
    I couldn't agree with Misha more that a writer's first job is to entertain.

    Yes, my books carry themes that have to do with one issue or another, but I don't beat readers over the head with my beliefs.

    However, I find sometimes that readers can't separate their morals from reading material and get all sanctimonious about what I write. Fact is books are not parents or moral compasses (except for the Bible) so yeah, my job is to tell stories that entertain.

    That said, wishing you oodles of success with the Vanished Knight.

    Checking out Far Out too, Arlee. Thanks!

  9. Thank you Misha for a most interesting read and thanks also to Lee for taking over Tossing It Out.
    I write my thoughts and feelings down also the places I have traveled. It takes my mind off the loneliness of being alone.


  10. Entertainment first. Always. If I think a story is going to preach at me, I won't even consider buying it.

  11. Joy you bring up an interesting thing about people not being able to separate their moral compasses from what they read. Which is also fine for them, but they don't get to make the judgement call on whether or not a book should exist.

    Yvonne, writing certainly does take the edge off our various hurts. Thanks for stopping by!

    Mary I feel you. I'm the same way.

  12. I definitely look to entertain first. I'm not looking to be deep or teach anyone anything. I think if a book carries lessons or themes to teach, then I want to know it before I even start reading.

  13. I read for entertainment and write for entertainment. However, not all writers take this path. And I find many ya novels evolving around controversial plots that lit. agents are heralding. It is controversial that's for certain. I agree with what you've written, Misha. Discipline and teaching right from wrong at birth is essential, though, not all parents feel this way. Parents can't be around their teens 24-7. I don't believe books are the culprit as is the horrific television and sordid movies. Children and teens, who read are better equipped for life in the long run.

  14. Christine I'm the same.

    Cathrina, I've run afoul of morality writers before. In all truth, I don't mind if they write the way they do. I just really REALLY mind that they're always trying to tell us entertainers that our books aren't worthy of being read.

  15. I agree with you Misha. My son isn't even interested in the morals behind a story at any rate. When we read books together he wants action and fun and I don't think that will change when he reaches a young adult. Even now at 7 he can distinguish fact from fiction for the most part.
    The point of fiction in my opinion is to transport the reader, no matter what their age, to a new place. Be it a magical fantasy land or something more of this world but with lots of fun and laughs. Even if there were a moral I am not sure he'd catch it. I think the key is to answer any questions your child has as a parent. Not expect a book to give them the answers for you.

  16. Bravo, Misha. There are enough books already out there telling us how to think. It's more important to teach the value of 'thinking' with a story that captivates.

    Good luck with The Vanished Knight!

  17. I wish I had time to comment at length, right now... maybe, I'll come back later.
    However, one thing:
    Studies do actually show that kids do do things because books "tell them to," to a certain extent. Kids model their behavior off of the characters in books just like they would model behavior off of living friends. In fact, the relationship in the brain of the kid to the character is equivalent of the relationship to a real, living person. Sometimes, the relationships with the fictional characters is even stronger because the characters are static and, therefore, dependable.

    All of that to say: a book is not always just a book.

  18. Interesting topic. Some parents rely on the world to raise their kids, and take no responsibility for the job. I'm sorry, but any child that has a cell phone, FB access and no adult supervision, will have parents that also choose books as a bad influence if they need to! Nature of the beast!

  19. I think we touch lives in ways we maybe don't realize. I know things I read as a kid and as a teen have stuck with me over time. Many of the words I use every day were words I read for the first time in a book, for instance. And there are ways of looking at small things that I got from a book as a youth. So while we may not be responsible for raising our readers--we do tend to make a small imprint on them, if we're lucky!

  20. Short, right to the point...

    Andrew Leon is correct.

    Furthermore, while a book had BETTER be entertaining or it's not going to sell - and if it doesn't sell, it doesn't reach minds - there should be more to it than just "entertainment" value.

    In my opinion, a story needs to be A LOT MORE than just entertaining! If after 100 pages (or 4 songs on a compact disc), I have discovered that the artist really doesn't have "anything to say", I'll cut my losses and move on to a different artist who not only entertains but says something important to me in some original, creative way.

    I could write 3 "entertaining" books or screenplays every year. All it takes is some imagination. But... I don't have enough valuable things to say to justify writing all those stories.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  21. I agree that every story doesn't have to come with a valuable lesson. An entertaining book can also fuel the imagination, Best of luck with your new book Misha! Lee, Thanks for hosting Misha!


  22. Joss I so agree with you. Whenever I read something that bothered me or that didn't feel right, I went to my parents. And I still think it's a better thing for a parent to create that sort of an environment for children than to forbid them to read certain things, or to censor writers from selling them.

    Well put, DG!

    Andrew, that may be, but the point is still that kids who have positive parental influence will know which characters' actions to emulate, and which are better left in books. I'm not saying books have zero effect. I'm just saying that books shouldn't be blamed. Kids copying books, tv shows, computer games etc. isn't the cause. It's a symptom of them not having a better example to emulate. Actually, screw that, it's actually a symptom of parents NOT teaching them how role models are dangerous things, period. And that it's necessary for people to act with integrity and honor, regardless of what a character or celebrity does.

    I agree Yolanda. People seem to see books as easy targets, and I wish there was a way for us to hit back at censors. Sadly though, doing so often does more damage than good.

    Stephanie, I agree with you. Part of why we publish stories is because we want to touch people in some way. But as a personal preference, I want my touch to be invited and feather light, rather that stiff and heavy and unwanted because of moralistic preaching.

    Stephen, this might sound weird, but I do agree with you and disagree. Firstly, I'm just going to point up to my response to Andrew's comment.

    Then, I'm going to qualify it to say that yes, authors are welcome to take audience reaction into consideration when they write. But I still say that it shouldn't be an expected, demanded thing. For the reasons I stated, that it's not my job to teach people or raise their children.

    Now as for having something to say, I do agree with you. But! One person may find layers of meaning in one book while you won't. And probably not because the author intended stuff to be a certain way. People read meaning into stories, whether we as authors like it or not. And we can't encourage or control it.

    Also, I've written five "entertaining" books in the past two years, and when I look back at them, I find all sorts of meaning in them that I didn't before because I was focused on plot and pacing. The meaning comes, the themes of a story can act as lessons, should the reader want them. But what I demand as a writer is the right to create freely and without censorship. Because the "entertaining" works I've written will mean a lot more to someone than forcing a lesson on him/her.

    Julie, I agree with you, and wit a fueled imagination comes thought. :-)

  23. I really wish Misha the best of luck with her book, it sounds so awesome! I agree that a certain level of respect is needed at all times too, a lack of respect annoys me, have an opinion on the writer's work if you will, in fact that should be encouraged, but don't be disrespectful and rude.

  24. Thanks Yeamie! I agree with you that there's a definite lack of respect towards writers. Sure, some of them are adored, but the moment one veers off from expected, he/she is reviled. :-/

  25. Misha, I just wanted to break in and thank you for this important topic. Also, thanks to the readers who have weighed in on the topic so far. It is a debatable issue for sure!


  26. You've stuck your head deep into the hornet's nest and come out... in one piece? Good for you.
    Yes, respect is a two way street. We all have our opinions and we're all entitled to them. It's the manner in which you express an opinion that is important...
    It's convenient for irresponsible parents to blame a child's delinquent behavior on others - it's a cop out!
    Congratulations on the book Misha!

  27. First, I'm not saying that books should be blamed or anything like that. What I am saying is that writers (or any artists) can just say "I have no responsibility for the results of my art." That's like throwing rocks and saying it's not your fault for where or whom they strike.

    Sure, parents need to be teaching their kids and being role models and all of that stuff, but, even for parents that do a really good job of that, there comes a time when kids start looking outside of that family dynamic so that they can figure out who they are. Friends become a bigger influence on kids than parents, which is why it's important for parents to pay attention to whom their kids hang out with, but books can be the same way, and it's much more difficult to screen books than people. Which is not to say that parents aren't responsible, but, even with responsible parents, kids can form unhealthy attractions with fictional characters, because those characters are just as real inside a person's brain as a real person is (not my opinion; that's based on research).

    None of that is to say that writers should only write wholesome characters that never do anything bad, but you can't also just throw it out there and deny responsibility for your creation. Or awareness. Or anything else. The artist has to be aware of his creation.
    Some people will care more than others about the influence their work will have, and some will have different agendas for how that influence manifests. All of that is okay and can not be dictated.

    I do not agree with your definition of what the job(s) of a writer is. That may be your definition of your job as a writer, but that's not my definition of my job as a writer. And I think it's probably not most people's definition of what their job as a writer is. The thing with my role as a writer is that it's like the writing itself: it's mine to do however I want to.

    So, just as no one can prescribe a way of writing to someone else, no one can prescribe the job as a writer to someone else. Each person has to decide what it is they're trying to achieve. And, yes, for some, that will be teaching. Some people do find morals and lessons entertaining. For others, it will be just pure entertainment fun. Like a roller coaster. Or any number of things.
    But it's not for you to say what my job is or what should or should not be important to me as a writer.

  28. Michelle, I agree with you. Even if someone disagrees, it's fine as long as they do it in a way that respects my opinion. Because it's what they expect of me too.

    Thanks for coming back with a longer comment, Andrew. :-) I do and don't agree with you on the points you make. For the main thing, I don't think I'd be able to write if I had to worry about how some person might misconstrue what I've written. My characters have honor, and they're strong and confident. But they're human. Ruthless, manipulative etc. I can't MAKE someone only see the good side, just like I can't write a character without a bad side. So no, I can't take responsibility for someone's choices with regards to what about my work influences them.

    And to make my point clear, there's this book that's widely read. It contains incest, adultery, polygamy, murder, political intrigue, betrayal by friends, struggles for the throne, multiple threats of and actual destruction, demons, rage, drinking, insanity, prostitution, famine and war. Oh and patricide, fratricide, suicide and the extermination of innocents. Game of Thrones? Nope.

    It's the Bible.

    And often the same people who keep pushing for books with ONLY one of these aspects to be burnt, are the same people who are try their best to get their kids to read it. Just goes to show you that evil can be seen in ANYTHING if you try hard enough.

    It's a choice the reader makes. If my writing in some bad thing, probably as a cause of character conflict, makes someone who read my book make the wrong choice, I can't take responsibility for it. And I won't. You know why? Because if someone wants to be an idiot, it's simply not my business.

    Also, I believe that the job of a writer is the job of a writer. What I listed in my post was the barest bones of it. Any writer has the right to draw some more responsibility onto his/her shoulders. I.E. If you want to be a teacher/preacher/leader/political activist as well, I don't see a problem with it. In fact, I've read plenty of books by people who took on these other roles and I loved them.

    My problem is with people who have the audacity to try and force writers into one of those roles, probably because they're too lazy/half assed to do it themselves, and who, if a writer refuses to do SOMETHING THEY'RE NOT INHERENTLY REQUIRED TO DO, threatens to have the book burned or banned, and to have no qualms whatsoever with demonizing said writer in the media.

    I also have a serious problem with people writing with a message having this holier than thou attitude towards their entertaining colleagues.

    Because believe it or not, it's not the lack of a message that makes me inferior to other writers. It's the possible lack of skill. And as someone else mentioned in the comments before me, if you're going to write a preachy book, you'd better entertain them too. And you'd better be a damn good writer, or you're doomed to fail in ways we as entertainers first and foremost don't even have to worry about.

  29. Again, at this moment, I don't have time for a long comment, but:
    I'm not saying that you (or any writer) is responsible for someone else's actions. Only the person is responsible for his/her actions. However, is... naive at best to say that a writer (or any artist) can do whatever he wants then say "I had no part in that" if someone responds to what is written.

    Did Emerson -make- Thoreau go live in the woods? No, but he did inspire him to do that. If he had never written his words, Thoreau would not have acted on them.

    That acknowledgement of the part we play in how we influence people is important, and it's not really okay to throw something out there and pretend to have no part in how it's received.

  30. Yep. Hornet's nest here! But I like to see this kind of topic talked about, because it means we're not all content to just tip-toe around the important issues in an attempt to avoid drama. :)

    For the record, I agree with you Misha!

  31. Andrew, I get what you're saying, and yes, I agree that we inspire people to do things.

    It's why we publish what we write. We want people to be touched by it. At the same time, unless someone actually says they've become a better person for what I've written, I don't credit myself forit either. To me, and I know you disagree, assuming that one should write because you'll make the whole world a better place is hubris.

    So yes, I agree that we as writers can have an impact on those who read our stories. But since we can't measure the size of said impact, we can't take the credit or the responsibility of things people do. And honestly, I'd refuse to accept either from a person who only attacks or praises my work from a theoretical stand point.

    Theoretically and according to studies, a percentage of readers are heavily influenced by the various forms of media. Assuming that this is inequivocably true, we should then take away t.v. advertisements, music, poetry. Fuck, any form of art that inspires someone to think, as well as celebrities and any sort of leader who makes a mistake, because God forbids that any of the above leads our precious children down the wrong path. And this is where the issue lies for me.

    If we start banning things for being not quite right for a few kids, it's a slippery slope that'll eventually lead to EVERYTHING being banned, since there will always be a group of people who don't agree with what someone wrote.

    And at the heart of it, even the darkest of stories can have a something inside it for someone whomight just really need it. And I refuse to think that witholding it from that person because someone else had a soapbox or a stick up their ass is right.

    So maybe I'm a bit more pragmatic, but if every author has to carry the responsibility for every single thing he had to write, the world would be a poorer place, because no writer would be able to write a damn thing that's acceptable to everyone. Yes, we have a certain responsibility, but what, I ask, are we even supposed to do with it? Give up on writing, meaningful, difficult stuff because sixty percent of the population won't get it? Perhaps. And believe it or not, I once burned my own manuscript because I knew what I wrote was dangerous.

    But that should be the writer's choice. No one else's. I think if the intention is right, i.e. to entertain in a way that isn't sensationalistic, the responsibility of the author ends there. Anything beyond that is split between what the author wants, and the reader's onw (lack of) perception.

    Odd thing is that the world is filled with books that contain all sorts of truly dangerous writings. They're not the ones that get banned. You know why? Because they're not popular. The reason for that being that people read it and knew something wasn't right. The books that stretch people, yet make them think... those are the ones that get challenged.

    Furthermore, to me this is a matter of respect towards readers. Assuming that they have the common sense to figure out for themselves what's right and what isn't. Because the censors and moralists make the basic mistake of assuming that a reader is too stupid to breathe. And they're not, because they think, and they read. Widely. Freely. And without thinking about whether or not something about the book will damage someone else, but not them. Never them.

    Yeah Trisha, I'm not the tip-toeing type. Did karate, fencing and shooting instead of ballet. :-P

  32. *who might

    Am typing on my tablet today, because the utilities cut off the power for maintenence.

  33. I think we are at the point of this becoming a useless conversation. You're taking what I'm saying and bouncing to all kinds of extremes with it, taking what I said completely out-of-context.

    I didn't say anything about telling about what they should or should not write. I also did not say anything about banning books.

    I said only that it's not really acceptable to pretend that you have no connection with your art once you've finished with it and thrown it out into the world. I never said that any author is responsible for someone else's actions. People make their own decisions. You're taking all of this into religious zealot territory, none of which I was saying.

    And, just to point out, you started by saying we do not write to inspire anything, only to entertain, but, now, you're saying the desire to inspire people is why we write. You can't have it both ways. If you want to inspire, own it and take responsibility for it. If you just want to throw out fluffy entertainment, don't claim you want to inspire.

    There's more I would like to say but
    1. again, pointless, at this point
    2. I have a class to go teach.

  34. Sigh Andrew, I didn't take your words out of context. As I said before, I don't disagree with your opinions. I'm trying to say that my issue is when people do take your justifiable opinions and push them beyond their limits. Yes, I admit that I might make a muddle of it. Main reason why I generally stick to fiction. Point is that my issue with your argument isn't your actual argument. It's that it's the same argument is often stretched beyond bounds and abused. What I was trying to do is say that I get what you're saying, but that I'll never accept the same argument if pushed too far past the center.

    In the same way, I don't condone complete irresponsibility either. Some people write bad stuf into stories just because, and I really hate that. Like I said, I've burned one of my own books because it came too close to the irresponsible area.

    Also nowhere in my post did I rule out inspiration. In fact, the third bullet point basically alludes to giving people the space to decide whether they want to be better people. I.E. inspiring them in some way. But I still maintain that it's not our first responsibility of writers.

    However I do hope you read this comment and realize that I'm not picking a fight. And I didn't intend to put words into your mouth. In fact, we can say you and I are equal distances to the left and right of the same center.

  35. I cannot imagine anyone of any age reading a novel to learn rather than be entertained. It's fiction for goodness sake if you want reality look around you. If anything is really badly influential it's TV.

  36. I agree with you that people put way too much stock in the influence of t.v. idea. Yes, I think it exists, but the problem I see isn't with the fiction, it's with people whose jobs ARE to raise, teach and lead children do so in a way that leaves a leadership vacuum.

    Honestly, I think this idea of role models and examples is BS. If people want kids to be good. Don't tell them to act like someone else. Show them how to be the best versions THEY can be.

  37. I never thought you were trying to pick a fight.

    That said, I think my issue is your very definitive way of stating "this is the first responsibility" and all of that. That's not how writing works and is rather like saying:
    "The first rule of painting is to always use blue.
    The second rule is that you must also use some red but not as much as you used of blue.
    You may not, however, use yellow."

    Also, I think your missing the part where no one says, "Hey, you should try to be more like Harry Potter. He's a good role model for you." No one says that. But kids who read, especially those that read a lot, will automatically model their behavior after the characters they feel close to. The only way to keep that from happening is to not allow them to read. [This is not me stating an opinion. The behavior modeling has been the subject of several studies and all of them have backed it up.]


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