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Reading Rockets' children's literature expert, Maria Salvadore, brings you into her world as she explores the best ways to use kids' books both inside — and outside — of the classroom.
The times they are a changin'
A recent commentary by Ruth Marcus in the Washington Post about the influence of reading Nancy Drew mysteries had on a generation, well, it got me thinking...
Marcus laments that her daughter didn't read Nancy Drew mysteries suggesting that it was because "Girls now don't need Nancy Drew. They know what we had to learn — that self-confidence is something to celebrate, not suppress..." and that Nancy Drew's behavior is the "new normal."
Certainly language has changed. My son doesn't see the mailman, the policeman or the fireman; instead he was raised with mail carrier, police officer and fire fighter.
But I'm not as convinced that self-confidence is universally celebrated, especially in girls. I think Nancy and other self-assured, smart young women still have an important place in the canon of young people's literature — these books represent an approach to life that is not nearly as cynical as many of the more contemporary pop series.
I read Nancy Drew, too, but I actually preferred Trixie Belden — another girl detective.
Trixie had it all over Nancy, I thought. She wore dungarees (when was the last time you heard jeans called that?!) because she was a real 'tomboy' (another antiquated term!). I saw more of me in Trixie Belden, I suppose.
It's all about choices — and helping readers make good ones.