20 November, 2006

Public Reading

Nature Girl just finished practicing reading a text passage out loud from Philip Ardagh’s book, House called Awful End (in German). She has to read it out loud in school today. Her sixth grade class is participating in the regional public reading contest. Which, eventually leads to the national contest.

Her father, an Italian immigrant, managed to make it to the national finals in his school days. It’s lovely to see how the tradition carries on.

I know they have spelling bees in the States (see recent films, here and here), but what I’d be interested to know is whether public reading contests, debate clubs, and spelling bees are still popular in other countries.

Originally, weeks ago, Nature Girl chose a passage out of the German translation of Margaret Atwood’s Princess Prunella and the Purple Plum fairytale. Nature Girl is an absolutely brilliant reader and she reads this particular piece beautifully. She practiced diligently for the last four weeks. Then she comes home on Friday in tears and tells me that she can’t possibly read the piece out loud because the guys in her class will mock her. The piece is too baby-like. Arrrrggghhh! Her friend, M., read out of a children’s book and the boys laughed when she was reading the text, even though the text wasn’t funny. (Oh, how I despise these mean and vindictive boys (it is always the same three boys in her class) who posses no talent but that of being able to mock bright and intelligent girls.)

So, it was Friday, and Nature Girl had two days to pick out a new text, practice it, and feel confident enough to shine on Monday. Talk about a drama (she is part Italian). I won’t go into the trials of our weekend. There were many tears of frustration (mine), defeat (hers), and, did I mention frustration (the whole family really) until a good alternative text was found.

I would like to express my thanks to Philip Ardagh and the translator, Harry Rowold, for writing such a wonderful series. The four books of this trilogy (go figure) are each in their own right brilliant. And even though it was difficult to decide which passage from which book, once done, Nature Girl did shine.

Cross your fingers that she will read well and feel she managed to do her best.

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