Junie B. Jones and the case for spelling, grammar
Have you heard of Junie B. Jones? She is the main character in a series of books of the same name written by Barbara Park for kindergarteners and younger children just learning to read. I've never heard of her even though the series has been around for fifteen years. (I grew up with Ramona and the characters in Judy Blume.)
According to a recent New York Times article, a growing number of parents are concerned about what their children are learning from her. Not only does Junie B. resort to name calling and talking back to adults (shocking!), more importantly, she does not use proper grammar or punctuation. The latter is what has the parents in a tizzy.
The argument from some parents is that the books do not follow the appropriate method of teaching children about spelling and grammar, known as phonics. Remember those? The Junie B. books focus more on a method known as "whole learning," the concept of which was not new to me, although naming it as such was.
"Whole learning" allows children the freedom of misspellings and bad grammar, a la Junie B., so long as they are engaged in reading and writing. I gotta tell ya, I grew up with phonics. There was no option for misspelling or bad grammar. To this day, even when my boss corrects some tiny little nitpicky thing in a business letter it annoys me.
Apparently the move is on -- and has been for a while now -- to BAN these books, which I think is absolutely, utterly ridiculous. It's ludicrous. It's ... abominable.
Seriously, folks want to ban a book for bad grammar? Well, then, we might as well toss out the James Joyce too. After all, who wants to read that broken stream of consciousness style writing anyway -- it's not how people really speak, right?
Your thoughts? Are you familiar with Junie B. and her wily ways? Do you think the books should be banned or do you love them? I, for one, am headed right to Barnes and Noble to check them out!
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