Friday, October 8, 2010

In Which I Am Angry

Right now, I'm supposed to be getting ready for Readathon.  I'm also supposed to be finishing Pride and Prejudice and Zombies for tomorrow's book group, which I'm supposed to be leading.  Instead of reading about Elizabeth Bennet kicking zombie butt, or making delicious zombie-themed treats to accompany this discussion, I'm hopping mad about an incident that happened to my good friend Amanda at The Zen Leaf.

Today, Amanda was quoted in a New York Times article about children's reading habits.  Rather, I should say she was terribly misquoted by a reporter with an agenda who completely took her remarks out of context.  Basically, the article makes Amanda look like a pushy mother who won't let her seven-year-old son read picture books, that she's FORCING him to read chapter books against his will, as if that will somehow make him smarter, which could not be farther from the truth.

As well as being a great writer and insightful book blogger, Amanda is a great mom who would do anything to encourage literacy for her three sons.  Her house is filled with books, and she would only discourage her children from reading books if she felt the content was simply too mature.  She doesn't care if her boys are reading picture books, chapter books, non-fiction, even the back of the cereal box.  Her family has a monthly book club in which they discuss books they've selected for each other to read.  Last spring her boys participated in Readathon with her, and they each read books for charity.  Did they have fun?  You betcha.  Did she force them?  Certainly not!!

That New York Times article has had more than 300 comments, most of them vilifying my friend.  The Times reporter has refused to correct or clarify her remarks, and that makes me furious.  She's hurt and upset, and it's so unfair.   Now, Amanda has about ten times more followers than I do, and she's had tons of supportive comments on her blog today, which is comforting.  She's also had lots of comments from people who sought out her blog after reading the article, and were able to get the full story.

I just feel really badly that my good friend has had this terrible experience when she was simply trying to be kind and helpful to this reporter.  The whole thing is particularly disturbing to me because years ago, I was a journalism major in college, and our professors tried to teach us about getting accurate quotes and writing unbiased articles.  The New York Times was always used as an example of a paper with very high journalistic standards, so I'm really disappointed with them.  This isn't some lousy cable news service.

Amanda was the first friend I made when I moved to San Antonio two years ago -- not surprisingly, we met at a book group that she founded.  She's the one who encouraged me to start blogging, and I've probably found most of my followers and commenters because of her.  If you've never read her blog, please take a moment to read her side of the story, and even leave her an encouraging comment.  She deserves better than this.

P.S. If you can't get to Amanda's blog, it's probably crashed from so much traffic.  


  1. Thank you, Karen. It makes me less than happy that our reporter friend is pretending she didn't know any of this would happen.

    And I want to clarify for anyone who might see this and think my kids participating in a readathon might be more of me pushing them into reading more than they want to: my boys BEGGED me to participate in the readathon and after I'd done two, I let them be part of the third. I have another one tomorrow and they're extremely disappointed not to be able to participate because they'll be camping with grandma. And Laurence, my "I'd rather be playing" reluctant reader, only read for a short while during the readathon, because that's all he wanted to participate. FYI to anyone seeing this post.

  2. I did not want to add any fuel to that fire!!! I was trying to give examples of all the FUN your family has reading!!!

    Cecelia is all excited about Readathon, but I told her she can't stay up all night. Gabriela's going to pass but will help out with snacks. And she's coming to the P&P&Z discussion tomorrow.

  3. I think that that article in the New York Times was just regurgitating a bunch of poop making Amanda look like who she isn't. Ever heard of that saying "To be, rather than to seem" ? Honestly! I used to read the New York Times, thinking it was a good, accurate source of information. Was I wrong! I am never going to read another single article written by that awful reporter!

  4. Whoops! forgot to subscribe to f/u comments, Karen. Dont' worry, you didn't add fuel. The crazies will say stuff no matter what you say, and the not-crazies I think will understand. :)

  5. You know, I totally avoided even reading the article because the premise just seemed like complete crap to me. Now that I know it's based on misquotes and an agenda, I'm definitely not going to read it. How totally annoying!

  6. Thanks Kristen! It's nice to know that there are people who are able to discern what's good reporting and what's not.

  7. Poor woman that must be so awful. I feel really sad for our friend, it must be a terrible experience for her. Good that she has friends like you that is the best medicine against experiences like that.

  8. what a bunch of jerks!

    I hope you're able to relax and have fun with the readathon!

  9. This was such a bummer! I love Zen Leaf too. I hope you had a good Readathon!


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