Sunday, December 9, 2012

Final Senior Seminar Blog and Reading is Teenage Gateway Drug to Knowledge (Week 14)

First off, this is my last blog for my Senior Seminar course on Children's Lit. I'd like to say this isn't my last literature blog post, but this series of posts has been helpful in pushing me to pursue more literary blog series in the future. I've got a list of topics and written pieces I'd like to torture you with... Er, I mean discuss with you. While I'll be sad to see this class come to an end, I'm also excited for inspiration it's given me to keep moving forward on writing up my literary journeys.

Secondly, this week's reading (The Book Thief by Mark Zusak), may in fact be a dangerous item for teens. It's engaging, bringing it's works to life by using eye catching bold words and singling them out by centering them as well or using symbols to mark them out. It may actually be enough to should teenagers that reading is "cool" and "hip". And what might this reading lead to? Wanting to learn more. In this case specifically, this historical fiction would be most likely make them want to learn more about WWII and the events surrounding it and would be excellent paired with a history class (as well as with some extra literature of the non-fictional variety of course.).

Besides historical knowledge as well, this piece brings worth many philosophical points as well. The narrator being Death itself and being a rather sympathetic, caring character brings up a quite a few interesting questions. Is our cultural image of death realistic? Is it fear based? Should we fear death like we do and is it really a good or bad entity? Looking past that one character, we see plenty points of moral philosophy as well. Liesel steals a book from a book burning. Is she really stealing? Or since it is being burned, does that action negate the stealing?

This book brings about not only the want of historical knowledge, but also philosophical knowledge. Imagine the horrible things that can come from that. Why in the world would we want independent thinking, intelligent young adults? It's not like that type of thing has ever been useful in life before.

Interesting Links
A Teaching Guide to The Boof Thief
Philosophy for Teens (A High school class website exploring philosophy)

(If I can find more interesting links, I'll add them. However, there are not many sites based off of teen philosophy that aren't pushing book sales.) 


  1. "The Book Thief" does make me want to learn more about the Holocaust and the stories of all the survivors. Our speaker, Dr. Schneider, was a wonderful supplement to our discussion of the text. It is important to learn about the historical background of a favored book. I do believe that young adults would learn more from works, outside of the lessons outlined in the texts. The politically charged history of the Holocaust is bound to spark some interest in the young readers and they can learn on their own with the traditional, "boring" history book. Do you think children would find this book just a mere fantasy or a book that speaks on our past reality?

  2. Is our cultural image of death realistic? I like this question that you pose. The Book Thief allows death to take on many human qualities as our narrator. It is especially ironic that ultimately, as noted in the end of the novel, that Death too fears humans.