Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lord of the Flies- A to Z

Last night I gave my ten year old a copy of  The Lord of the Flies.  I have been trying to give her books that would challenge her reading ability.  Most books, not unlike most newspapers, are written on about a 6th grade reading level.  This is especially true for YA novels as that is their target audience.  Most books that can be classified as Literature are written at a much higher level.  There doesn't seem to be much to bridge that chasm.  Lord of the Flies, in my opinion, can do that. 

Lord of the Flies can be read on two levels.  On one level, the level my daughter will immediately understand is that of a survival story and bullies.  On a much higher and complex level, the story is about human nature in lines with the like of Heart of Darkness.  The great thing is that Golding writes flies in such a way as the connection can easily be made and, hopefully, once pointed out to a 4th grader, she will be able run with it. 

I read this book as an adult, so I lost some of that memory of how mean kids can be to each other and just how quickly societal norms can fade.  Golding captures this perfectly.  It are the kids the devolve completely that are most equiped for survival.  Piggy is the least equipped as he holds tight to societal norms.  Ralph splits the difference, but all the other characters are drawn to devolving out of fear.  Published in 1954, as the cold war and nuclear annialation are justifiably large fears, the story is a perfect allegory for nuclear armement.  No one wants to follow Jack Merridew into the wild, but they have to out of fear.

Oh crap I was writing an essay, sorry. 
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7 comments:

TS Hendrik said...

I read the book as a kid and it certainly stuck with me.

Pat Tillett said...

GREAT post! I read it as a kid and as an adult. To be honest, I liked it better the first time. I "got" it as a kid, but then again, I started reading newspapers at a very young age. It's good that you gave it to your daughter as "non-junk" reading by kids seems to be another of the great things we are losing...

Kal said...

In junior high social class they used to have a unit called Marooned which had the students imagine they were marooned on a tropical island (before 'Survivor') and the groups had to determine where they would live based on what resources they had available to them. Soon, like in the book 'Lord of the Flies everything decends into anarchy with the kids attacking each other for scarce resources. It was facinating to watch each year how working together became the least popular option. Then they read the book and see the movie and the impact on all of them was pretty clear. I loved teaching this unit.

Budd said...

That sounds like a great unit, Kal.

Sommer Leigh said...

I love Lord of the Flies and this is a great post about it :-)

There are quite a few YA books too that can bridge reading level and challenge. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card is a favorite of mine, but newer ones too like 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson, Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, and The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier to name a few.

I'm lucky to be married to a high school English teacher so we are always talking about YA books. Our house is filled with them.

Budd said...

Sommer- I have read the Chocolate War and believe that I still have it at home. Ender's game is a favorite of ours. She read it in 2nd grade. I think the main problem I run into is finding books that aren't too risque for a 4th grader. We did Pigman last week and she will be reading flowers for algernon soon.

Nick said...

I really liked this book in school. I always identified with Simon.