Every once in a blue moon, some morbid curiosity impels me to check my Sitemeter in order to peer at the Google search strings.
My friends, I did so today, and now my eyes are bleeding.
I post a lot on children's and YA fiction, because it's an interest of mine, and because my thoughts on children's lit are not quite so tender and fragile as my thoughts on Stein. But what did I ever do to deserve search strings like this?
- "the perilous gard book notes"
- "two princesses of bamarre study guide"
- "Jennifer L. Holm study guide"
- "House of Dies Drear cliff notes"
That is right. Civilization is in ruin.
Because apparently people cannot even read CHILDREN'S FICTION without searching for Cliffs Notes anymore. (I'll admit that The House of Dies Drear is a little trippy and complex in some unexpected ways, but still: these books are written for ten-year-olds.)
If my searchers are reading these books for school, chances are they are not very old themselves. So their reading abilities may be only somewhat sub par. But then, it also means that grade schoolers now troll the web for ways to cheat on assignments. This makes me miserable.
So, although I have said it before, I will say it again for any extremely young fry who may have just typed "boston jane study guide" into their browsers:
When you are asked to read something, and you find that reading hard, it is not acceptable to go read something easier instead.
Doing so is analogous to consuming some futuristic food-pellet that reproduces all the nutrients of an apple instead of eating an apple. The futuristic food pellet might get you somewhere, but it doesn't reproduce the experience of eating an apple.
If you are having trouble understanding the reading, there are many strategies that will help you understand, and will make you a better reader too:
-Read more slowly.
-Ask a real live person for help with understanding specific passages.
-Discuss the book with your friends.
Looking up digests on the web will not make you a better reader. Reading canned, simplified analyses written (in the case of Cliffs Notes and other such excrescences) by total hacks will not make you a more critical thinker.
Improve your own skills. Think for yourself.