Volume 11 Number 3.
The four books listed here are part of a series of twelve that comprise Series Canada. They are representatives of a class of books known as "high interest-low vocabulary" and are, no doubt, intended for use with poor readers in upper elementary and junior high school. A quick surface readability analysis (Fry method) indicates about grades 3-4 reading level difficulty for the four books. The themes of the books are "realistic," a term meaning that one will encounter lots of broken families and violence (Gang War), pre-marital sex (Baby, Baby), drug use (and abuse), disaffected youths (Snow Ghost), "action packed adventure" (Wild One) and the like. Series Canada does not disappoint on this score. Moreover, the print is large, the spacing wide, and illustrations abound. Thus, a teen-aged poor reader can gain the satisfaction of having read a "whole book" without actually having had to process very much print at all.
Having taught remedial reading at the junior high school level, I recognize the difficulty in finding quality reading material of suitable difficulty and interest level. But I do not subscribe to the notion that reading anything is better than reading nothing at all. If high interest-low vocabulary realistic fiction simply represents the print equivalent of half-hour TV pot-boilers with trite plots, shallow characterizations, and simple solutions to difficult human problems, are they really worth bothering with?
In fairness, I must add that I have not seen the teacher's guide to these four books. The books do deal with issues worth considering, and a good teacher with the guide might be able to remedy some of the inherent weaknesses of this type of literature. The books cannot, however, stand on their own as worthwhile juvenile fiction.
Robert W. Bruinsma, King's College, Edmonton, AB.
1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995
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Young Canada Works