Requiring Kids To Read ‘Twilight’

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - December 03, 2008

I loved field trips when I was a schoolkid. My first was in first grade when our class paid a visit to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. Even at a young age, I was awestruck by the expansiveness of the building, the huge model train snaking its way on the ground floor and walking inside a human heart. That was totally cool.

Other memorable school excursions include the Brookfield Zoo - feeding the bears was the best part. I loved the Shedd Aquarium with the vast displays of fish and the amazing dolphin show. We did go to the Field Museum when I was a kid, but it didn’t do much for me. Who wanted to look at stuffed animals and dinosaur bones? At least at the Museum of Science and Industry there was fun stuff to do. I mean, who can compete with exploring in a real German submarine?


My last field trip was our senior French class. Why French? My buddies and I figured that’s where the girls were. Sure enough, there were four guys in a class of 30. For a socially challenged teenager, those are pretty good odds.

Our class trip took us to Chicago and The Art Institute. I had been to the AI many times and it became one of my favorite places in the world. The collection of French Impressionist art was our class focus. Henri Matisse, Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet, Pierre Auguste Renoir and Georges Seurat were but a few of the iconoclastic masters ensconced there. Over the years, I grew to love and appreciate the history and beauty of Impressionism and that high school field trip was the entrée to a lifelong relationship.

A call from a listener to my radio program got me thinking about those days.

I was talking about the movie Twilight and how much my wife, Bernadette, and I enjoyed it. Twilight is this year’s box office phenomenon with record attendance and critical acclaim. Its success is profound since it lacks a big-name star, cast and director, plus it’s a high school story with a twist. The boy is a vampire. As a matter of fact, his whole “family” are vampires.

So, it came as a shock when the caller mentioned that his child’s sixth-grade class’s field trip was to the movie Twilight. A sixth-grader is what, about 12 or 13 years old? Twilight is rated PG-13. It was explained that the book Twilight is required class reading. Really? A novel about vampires, and the student is required to read it.

Here is the bottom line. There are a myriad of activities schools can choose to enhance the educational experience. However, celebrating the literary history and activities of vampires is not a good choice. Understand the premise of vampirism is the consumption of human blood and the nefarious ways in which that blood is secured. This is hardly acceptable fodder for a school-sponsored activity.

I would be appreciative if a representative from the Department of Education, the school in question or a supportive parent would explain this reckless and troublesome decision.

Conversely, if you are a parent of a DOE child, what do you make of this situation?

I’ll include your responses in next week’s space.

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