As I might have mentioned, I have assigned each of my boys a book to read, an adult book with few pictures and no comic drawings like you find and they unfortunately find too often in the works of Jeff Kinney and Dav Pilkey. The oldest got The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin and the younger got Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave. They’re both going to write essays about five lessons they learned from their assigned books; then they will swap books and write an essay on the other book.
As I’ve been posting the last couple of weeks, I’ve mentioned when other bloggers have posted poems that inspired me to include those poems in daily poetry writing. But today I cam across Jack Baruth’s weekly roll-up from last week where he quotes Frederick Douglass because:
The beauty of proper English is that it can be mastered by anyone with the will and capacity to do so. It does not discriminate. It is a tool available to all who might wield it in confidence. Frederick Douglass was one such man. He used the discipline of language to effect major change — in his life, in the life of others. In a Newspeak world, he could never have persuaded as he did, could never have accomplished what he did. In this way, the leveling of English won’t serve to erase oppression or discrimination: it will serve to make it permanent. We will have two official languages: English for the people who make the rules, and Newspeak for those who must follow them. The speakers of the latter will live in the eternal sunshine of a spotless present, never troubled by Shakespeare or Douglass in “the original”, never given the chance to express or consume a contrary opinion. O brave new world, that has such people in it!
Which is why I’ve gotten a little more hands-on in pushing my children. They’ve gotten too accustomed to doing the minimum to get by in elementary school, and it’s about time they started to work with real literature and to become fluent in the language they’ve inherited.