SOLSC 2013: What Kind of Reader Are You?

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What Kind of Reader Are You?

I have been pondering this question lately. Do you want to know the backstory of the book? Do you want others to talk in hyperbole about the book? Or do you approach with wild blind abandon as an adventure in reading? Maybe you are a reader who reads ahead, reading paragraphs from different pages.

Most of the time I prefer the wild blind abandon. I don’t want to know much about the story when I start. I especially hate when someone has told me there is a twist in the story or they talk in hyperbole about the book.

But recently a friend shared she is reading One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus and I found my reading preference challenged. If you look the book up, you will see that it’s a “diary” about a woman who was married off to the….tribe as part of a government deal.

Hmmm….my reader’s questioning took over. How much research has Fergus done? How believable is he writing as a woman? According to my friend and other reviews on Amazon he’s very believable. My friend had no idea the story was a fictionalization account.

But what about the tone and the research? I checked in Debbie Reese of American Indiams in Children’s Literature. I consider her one of the top authority’s in writing about First Nation people. She response….

“Fergus says that the One Thousand White Women was a “clandestine” government project called “Brides for Indians.” With that disclaimer, he can suggest that this program actually happened and we can’t question it! The book content is derogatory about Cheyenne people. It presents them from an outsider (white) perspective, which (in theory) means any and everything is fair game, but I think there are better choices available… Books that are more balanced and accurate, too.

Ones like ONE THOUSAND WHITE WOMEN don’t challenge us to rethink old ideas about who Indigenous people were. It lets that old narrative remain intact, affirming it, and that’s not good for any of us.”

And this is another way I am a reader. I don’t want to read books that depict First Nation people poorly. I wonder who will read this book and believe it as truth.

So when a book involves First Nation people’s, as a reader I will ask questions about the craft of writing the book before investing the time into reading book. I want books like these to be authentic as well as engaging.

Find more slices at Two Teachers Writing.

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5 Responses to SOLSC 2013: What Kind of Reader Are You?

  1. Tara says:

    Hmmm, I like recommendations, but I don’t want to hear too much about it. I hate knowing what’s going to happen. I’m trying to make myself branch out and read books I wouldn’t normally pick up.

  2. I definitely read with wild abandon! I do appreciate the thought you put into finding out more about this book. I want to share books with my students that will give them a window into other worlds since we live in a fairly homogeneous community, but I want that window to open their eyes and minds, not cloud them with stereotypes.

  3. Linda Baie says:

    Because I read mostly books I want to recommend for children, and non-fiction for myself, I go with hearing the reviews of a book more than once before I’ll read. And I’ll do some research about the author usually too. If it’s a book that has been questioned in some important way (stereotypes, etc.) I probably won’t read it. There are too many good books available to waste time on others. Your story, Jone, reminds me of The Education of Little Tree, which turned out to be a total lie. How sad that someone couldn’t just say it was fiction. Thanks for the question!

  4. I think it’s good to be a reader who questions the thinking and research behind the book especially if it’s not an accurate depiction of history. We have to teach this to our students as well.

  5. I suspect I value clear and concise writing the most; however, a good tale that makes me stop and question the author will “trump” good writing! I think I need to get this book!

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