Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Power

My kids ask me questions all day long. Most of them are related to what we're doing, some are just WAY out there and I wonder where the hell they come from. Some are obvious, some I can figure out with some logic, and some just stump me. (You may recall an earlier post about a question: "If one triplet dies, are the remaining two now known as twins?" I still don't know the answer to that one.

Today I got another stumper.

We've been reviewing literary genres. (Sidenote: How old were you when you learned the word "genre?" I probably didn't learn that word until college. The average first grader now uses that word. I kid you not.) Of course there are the 2 broad categories: fiction and non-fiction, but then you can break down each one into sub-categories such as historical fiction, fantasy, folk tales, biographies, informational, etc. I know you know all this. I just feel the need to make sure everyone's on the same page.

One of my boys is reading a book about Bionicles. Bionicles are a creation of the Lego company. They look like aliens and each one has its own defensive and offensive properties. That's all I can tell you. (Follow the link, nerds, to learn more). So the book my kid is reading is a book describing each character in a certain "class" of Bionicle beasts, the Rahi (it's all very complex). So my kid asks me, "Ms. M, this book is informational, so it's non-fiction, but it's about characters that don't exist, so it's fantasy, too. What genre is it?"

Now I have no problem admitting when I don't know something. In fact, I hate it when people pass off their guesses as fact because they don't want to appear to not know everything in the entire world.

"Uhhhh..." was my first response.

"Let me see the book" was my second response.

"To be honest, I'm not sure" was my third response.

My fourth and best response: "If we HAD to stick the 'the rules,' we would probably classify it as fantasy, but since we're creative people, let's make up our own genre. What do you think?"

After some discussion, we came up with "informational fiction." He seemed genuinely intrigued at the idea that things could be flexible, that we, as readers, hell, as people, could do crazy things like make up a genre! If we can create a genre, what else can we do???

Isn't it that kind of thinking that creates new and wonderful ideas? I mean, how powerful for a child to be able to create something like that, cuz when you think about it, children are pretty powerless in their everyday lives: they are told how and when to do absolutely EVERYTHING.

I think I opened a mind today.

1 comment:

christine said...

that is wonderful - what a great example of how reading and writing are fun!- which is so rarely experienced by kids, on the whole.
:) yeah for books!