Talk Back: Readers Respond July-September 2003
We covered the serious stuff (education reform, obesity, playground safety). We covered the fun stuff (Rob Slob, Captain Underpants, Toni Morrison). In response, readers sent in many thoughtful remarks.
|Used by permission from Topps Company, Inc.|
Closet Collectors on the Rise
Special report: a lot of Connect for Kids readers collect weird stuff! Many of you responded to “Garbage Collector,” in which Robert Capriccioso recalled the joys of accumulating gross Garbage Pail Kids trading cards in his younger days. One reader’s fondest memories:
I remember trying to fit in with the crowd when GPK series nine came out. I bought a pack from the ice cream truck and opened it with a friend and we talked for a week about how dumb the cards were compared to the older, cooler series … I also remember giving my mom a piece of paper with a Wacky Jacky sticker as a birthday card (she still has it). And I took great pleasure that the only card sharing my name is Low Cal and that his twin is Sloshed Josh sharing my brother’s name (my mom swears that she didn’t do that on purpose, but I don't know)…The controversy of Garbage Pail Kids lives on, however, as we learned from the Topps Company, the maker of the cards:
I thought you might like to know that GPK recently made its New York City debut at the famous Dylan’s Candy Bar and, as expected, along with the excitement, there were a few parents who complained about the store’s display promoting the all-new Garbage Pail Kids. After meeting with other Topps employees involved with GPK, we recommended that store employees give disgruntled parents a copy of your article. I believe this helped them have a better understanding of why kids love the product.
The Topps Company
But not all parents have a problem with this particular collection obsession:
I was also a Garbage Pail Kids fanatic. I remember going to the corner store, paying my twenty-five cents and tearing open the package to see what new gross characters I had just added to my collection. What memories—which is why I'm happy to hear that they're making a comeback. I have an eight-year-old son who I'm sure will love them for the same reasons I did, but also knowing that his mom collected them will really fascinate him. Thanks for the memories.
|Illustration copyright © 2001 by Dav Pilkey. All rights reserved. Used by permission.|
Responses to “Captain Underpants to the Rescue,” by Susan Phillips, made it clear that the fat, bald superhero has plenty of fans among parents.
What a delight to find out that another “choosey mother” also has affection for the Captain Underpants books—a true favorite for my eight-year-old son and I. Dave Pilkey’s writing is so geared for his audience (not just by virtue of only using words that a young reader will comprehend, but in topic and viewpoint) that through sharing these books, in some hard to explain bridging the gap way, I am better able to understand my son.
My son has still not forgiven me for “donating” his very first Captain Underpants book to the local library several years ago. I noted that there was now a nameplate inside the book that documented his philanthropy...this did not fly. His response was a very surly “Well, I still don’t have it, do I?" As one mother to another, I urge you NEVER make this mistake! I have now purchased, through Scholastic, EVERY Captain Underpants book...I may redeem myself yet...
Lower Columbia College
Washington State University
Elementary Education Program Site Coordinator
|Toni Morrison Photo by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders|
While many readers were able to laugh along with the Garbage Pail Kids and Captain Underpants, observations became more serious in regards to “Toni Morrison’s Challenge,” Robert Capriccioso’s interview with the author.
As a parent of a special needs child, I love The Book of Mean People. My son thinks the staff at school are horrible ogres (some actually are) just for having expectations of him. This book showed him that he is not alone in his feelings and opened up a discussion of why people ask you to do the things they ask. He did see that the adults wanted the child to behave in a certain manner because that is what is expected of everyone. It also let him feel angry if he wants.
As a longtime fan of Ms. Morrison’s, I know that her work is often too intense for adults, so I am not surprised about the controversy surrounding her foray in children's books. But true to form, Ms. Morrison will continue to write according to her own muse (and her son’s feedback) and I applaud her commitment to remain true to herself. Thank you for this insightful and thought provoking review and interview.
In “Education Reform: a Quagmire,” Denver school administrator Rob Stein shared his views for reforming the system. “Education reform should be the moral equivalent of war, not the political equivalent of Vietnam,” he argued. Many readers agree that reforming the system is not impossible, but it will require a lot of effort:
Oh, how I wish that education reform could be accomplished in the simplistic ways that legislators presume. We teach. Students learn. We test. Success! If this were really how it all happens, it would be so nice. But the problem is that this is a romance novel version (not even a Grimm’s fairy tale) of the complexities involved in teaching and learning. As a longtime teacher and teacher trainer, I don't want to minimize the impact of a qualified teacher, but far more important are the attitudes, behaviors and habits that students bring into and learn in the classroom. These are what I have come to call MegaSkills and they are taught and reinforced in the home and community as well the classroom. I know we can teach these, if given a chance. I am not opposed to testing, but first we have to teach and we have to help kids learn what it takes to succeed, both within and beyond the test. This isn’t easy and it takes time and effort, and yes, resources. It demands teacher and family connections. It demands flexibility and imagination. And that is why this column by Mr. Stein is important. I encourage you to continue this dialogue and make it possible for more parents to connect with these issues.
Dorothy Rich, Ed.D.
Home and School Institute
The article you published shows that, one more time, the leaders in the schools are part of the problem instead of being part of the solution. We already spend far more, per pupil, than any other place on the planet. The answer is not more federal involvement or money, because the more distance there is between the costs of education and the people who pay the bills, the less the community cares, figuring the responsibility rests in the state capitol or in Washington…
To coincide with “back-to-school” time this year, we featured two stories by Robert Capriccioso, “An Idea with Legs” and “The Great Playground Debate,” that focused on combating obesity and playground safety concerns for the coming year. Many readers found the ideas useful…
The walking school bus is the best idea I have heard in a long time. I am going to find out if anyone in my town has heard anything about it and if not I will “teach” them...
Earl White and Linda Collins
…and some raised concerns of their own:
While I am a great advocate for safety, I believe that we are taking all the fun out of being a child. Has there been a comparison of injuries and deaths to children playing outside of a playground versus the stats quoted in your article? I know some people would argue that even one injury is too much, however, we cannot take the risk out of everything. At least I don't want to live in that world. Blatant repair issues and true hazards aside, some of my courage came from hanging upside down on the top of a 10-foot slide. Yes, I am glad I didn't fall and have a head injury or spinal injury. But I learned a lot taking the risk!
In the month of August, we turned over control of our second slot to some up-and-coming young journalists. They brought up issues like getting into college, instant messaging for the uninitiated, and the need for diversity in journalism. “Where Did All the Summer Jobs Go?,” by Ti’Juana Hardwell, age 16, received this compliment:
I think this story is well written and long overdue. Ms. Hardwell shows her insight and understanding of a rather complex piece of legislation by relating it in real terms to how it affects her and her peers. As a young leader, she is an inspiration to youth everywhere. I especially appreciate her candidness in wondering what a "youth board" without youth representation is really hoping to accomplish…
Since launching our CFK Interactive “Health Insurance for Children” a couple of months ago, reader comments have kept rolling in. Some have brought up unique concerns:
Most of what you say is true, but what about the families that fall in the middle like me? I live in Texas and CHIP has cut my son off … I have been for the last week looking for insurance that I can't afford. The ones I might be able to make a monthly payment on do not cover the needs of my child due to the problems he has. The meds he takes will cost $323 a month. It kind of seems like a waste of money I don't have.
As a mother of 2 handicapped sons, I'm afraid coverage that's needed won't be available for the boys. Please keep us in mind and prayers. Thanks! This site is awesome!
Thanks for the thoughtful feedback, everyone! And
keep it coming.
If you’ve got comments or questions about this story, we’d like to hear them. Send your response to Susan Phillips.