Flattered and Flummoxed: How I Became a Resource

May 22, 2015 Blogging, Personal, Uncategorized 20

Hidey Ho, Bookworms.

By some internet witchery, it seems I have become an expert resource on all essay questions regarding Lois Lowry’s The Giver Quartet as well as an opponent of book banning worthy of quotation. My search terms recently have included an awful lot of “what is the symbolism of XYZ in The Giver/Gathering Blue/Messenger/Son” and “why was XYZ book banned?” I can only assume these searches are being performed by students, because I’ve yet to meet another casual reader who is overly concerned with the underlying themes of middle-grade novels, though, in fairness, I’ve been known to google the reasons for book banning. Sometimes they’re hilarious. People are weird.

I’m both flattered and flummoxed. I’m stoked to think that my blog has managed to gain so much traction as to come up in searches like this, but I have some concerns. First, it seems to me that kids who are googling essay questions are kids who haven’t read the book. I’m having serious guilt over the idea that I might be helping some kid out there skate out of doing their reading. It’s the stuff of nightmares, I assure you. Kids, if you’re reading this, READ THE BOOK. Especially if it’s anything written by Lois Lowry. She’s awesome. (If it’s Moby Dick, you have my permission to use Cliff’s Notes. Shhhh, don’t tell you mom. Or your teacher.)


A few months ago, I got an email from a student asking my permission to quote my blog in a research paper regarding banned books. I suppose an opinion piece is simply that, opinion, so it’s not entirely necessary to have credentials to be quoted, but it all seems so weird to me! When I was a wee one writing research papers (particularly in middle school and high school) the internet wasn’t typically an accepted resource. I was expected to sift through encyclopedias and scholarly journals. Made of paper! You know, stuff written by PHD’s, not random weirdos. I have zero credentials that qualify me to write literary criticism. None! I’ve only got a Bachelor’s degree, and it sure as heck isn’t in English Literature. I’m literate and enthusiastic. That’s it. And yet. I’m now a source! This is some Twilight Zone level weirdness, y’all. I can’t even.

What do you think, Bookworms? Has my blog turned into a cheat sheet helping kids ditch their reading, or am I just THAT awesome? (Don’t answer that honestly. I probably can’t handle the truth.)

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Since I’m an expert and all, I’ll use the proceeds to buy more books. Because that’s not what I already do with all my proceeds or anything. Wait…*


20 Responses to “Flattered and Flummoxed: How I Became a Resource”

  1. Nish

    Yup, your blog is totally a cheat sheet. I came to the same conclusion regarding mine when I see so many hits on David Copperfield and Gulliver’s Travels. My suspicions were confirmed when I got an email asking for clarifications about the book 🙁

    • Words For Worms

      Hahahhahahaha! Well, hey, maybe they were only asking for clarifications because they read it and just didn’t get it. I’m trying to be positive here. I mean, I REALLY didn’t get To The Lighthouse even though I read it… Maybe there’s hope? Maybe?

  2. Quirky Chrissy

    As someone who used the internet to her full advantage in college in order to acquire a degree in English by never reading the book…yes.

  3. Megan M.

    Students have been trying to avoid reading books since time immemorial. I remember my teacher saying she put a “how does the Scarlet Letter end?” question on the test because kids who’d just watched the movie would get it wrong.

    I wouldn’t worry about it. You’re so careful about giving things away that I imagine they’d have to use other websites anyway.

    • Words For Worms

      I know. Sigh. I know everyone avoids reading the book. Ugh. Sad. I never saw the movie for The Scarlet Letter- did they let Hester and Dimmsdale ride off into the sunset or something?

        • Words For Worms

          Ugh! There’s a 90s non musical version of Les Mis starring Claire Danes, Uma Thurman, and Liam Neeson that ends with Jean Valjean merrily walking over a bridge through Paris finally free of Javert, presumably resuming his happy-go-lucky life with lovely daughter Cossette and her new beau. I’m afraid I got a bit shouty while watching it.

  4. Daddio

    That’s what happens when you enter “The Twlight Zone”. And by the way, the Scarlet Letter end with a little curly que flourish…also in scarlet.

  5. AMB

    “Kids, if you’re reading this, READ THE BOOK.”

    Ha! You are hilarious. It’s nice that someone emailed you to quote you. I suspect most students out there are using the content they find on blogs without citing it properly (I doubt many teachers would accept “The Misfortune of Knowing” as a legitimate source!). I notice certain types of search terms, usually about Wuthering Heights and To Kill a Mockingbird, go up around finals time.

    • Words For Worms

      I see a lot of hits pop up for classics (Oliver Twist is another big one) but I’m guessing the Lowry books are big in the middle school sector and there’s less written about them to use to cheat on homework, LOL.

  6. Jennine G.

    You’re fine. Nowadays it’s very difficult to write research papers with students without using the Internet. It’s actually hard to use books. Our libraries no longer carry up-to-date materials…you can get it all online for free. And if we can take trips to local college libraries and such, they aren’t able to take out materials. They have to have money to make copies while there, which doesn’t happen in a school like mine. So, enjoy your new found fame and let the student worry about whether or not their work is legit!

    • Words For Worms

      It was a PITA to hunt through those journals in the first place, I can only imagine the indexing of online sources to be a zillion times better. Still. I’m old. And you’re right. The student should ultimately be responsible for thinking this old broad knows anything.

  7. Akilah

    1. I think it’s adorable that the student asked your permission to cite you as a source. Aw.

    2. The kids these days use Sparks Notes, not Cliff’s Notes. Just in case you wanted to be up on the new hip happenings over at the soda shop.

    • Words For Worms

      Oh yeah, I totally told the kid who emailed me that I was super flattered to be contacted as a resource and to quote me freely, though I did warn her I lacked any credentials! I AM SO OLD. Spark Notes, huh?

  8. Holly Hester

    I just read an article that men always say yes to things regardless if they know what they’re doing or not and women just question themselves — they don’t say yes right away, but say, I don’t know if I’m that good, etc.

    Say you’re an expert! You are an expert! Go for it!

  9. Monika @ Lovely Bookshelf

    Kids definitely should just go ahead and read The Giver quartet! (I finished it recently, I may post about it soon but I don’t think I’ll have anything useful for student googlers haha).

    Maybe people see the “I am Katie. I like books.” in the sidebar and think “ohhhh! She LIKES books? She’s an expert!”

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