A Reader in a Viewer’s World
As a teacher, one of my favorite things to do with my students is read aloud to them. Even with my young kindergartners, it is so exciting to expose them to high quality children’s literature, and watch their eyes light up as they experience the magic of the words on the page. Conversely, there is almost nothing so frustrating as beginning a chapter of a book, and having ten to twelve students go, “Oh, oh! I know what happens! I saw the movie of this!” And all the magic is gone….
Children are being robbed of the opportunity to experience BOOKS. It seems as though every week Hollywood comes out with a new movie based on a popular book. Its a quandry….I know full well that the majority of my students will never hear a book read aloud to them outside of my classroom. I know that the majority of my students will live their life fully unaware that some of their favorite shows and movies began as words on a page. I always write home to parents, letting them know what we will be reading, and asking them to please not allow their child to view the movie until we are finished with the book. In a few cases, the movie helps to excite the children about the story…if the timing is right. I had just finished reading “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” to my second graders about three months prior to the release of the film. Because they knew the movie was coming, their interest grew, and several of them read the rest of the series on their own. A similar situation happened with the release of the movie, “Holes,” and my third grade class. However, I still shake my head every time I see a preview for an upcoming movie based on a book….knowing full well that it is one more read-aloud I won’t be able to enjoy with my class. Nothing beats the words on the page. Nothing.
A book forces the reader to use the power of their own imagination. They are allowed to experience the book for themselves, seeing and interpreting events as it makes sense for them. The reader is allowed to enjoy the story the author wanted to tell, rather than the diluted, commercialized, and artistic liberty-laden version the movie tells. Will the box office destroy the library? Only time will tell…