Welcome to 31 days of Media Memories. If you’re scratching your head because you have no idea what I’m talking about, start here.
I read David Copperfield for a book report in my 7th grade English class. We were required to read a book of our choice and then do an oral book report on it. If you know me, I’m sure you just said ‘oh no.’ If you don’t know me, I do Not like to speak in public. I know, I know. Most people aren’t fans. But really. Ugh. I either start crying or end up looking and sounding like Don Knotts. Let me clarify this:
So for whatever reason, I picked David Copperfield off of the bookshelf in my home. I finished it and was proud of myself and also excited because I Loved the book. I wasn’t happy with having to give a speech about it, but I was happy to tell others about how good it was. I wrote my paper on it, gave my report and then a few days later got my grade back. A big red B-. I was marked off a letter grade because the David Copperfield I read was from a Reader’s Digest condensed version.
Again. You might not know this, but I am a perfectionist. When I was in school, a B was unacceptable. A B- was purely awful. I would have been disappointed with an A-. Really I always tried to figure out how I could get an A+ or better. Go ahead and roll your eyes. I am in awe of my own ridiculousness. I went home really upset and told my mom that it wasn’t fair–I did read the whole book! My mom explained to me what Reader’s Digest does. They take well-known and well-loved novels and shorten them by taking out parts of the book that aren’t totally necessary to the story. Oh.
So you might think that would put a sour taste in my mouth towards reading the classics–or reading in general. But then my mom went on–“You know, Rachel. Even though it is a condensed version, it is still not the easiest book to read. And you read it. It doesn’t matter what the letter on your schoolwork says–you read the book and you gave a good report on it.”
What a reality check. Leave it to my mother to break it down into a succinct form. I didn’t do a book report on Sweet Valley High (don’t be fooled–I read all of those, too). I did my book report on David Copperfield. And she was proud of me.
You would think I would have learned my lesson. My son brought home a spelling test a few weeks ago. We had practiced diligently all week and I knew he was going to do well. I looked at his paper and he got a 92% (that’s about an A-, if you must know). He forgot to put his number beside his name and so was counted off. I was SO upset. He had spelled all of his words correctly AND 2 out of 3 of the bonus words and his grade should have been better.
I was venting to my mom and telling her how I wrote a letter to his teacher and went in to the school and talked to her, but it was just the way she grades. Ugh. And then my mom said, “Well Rachel. I could care less if he had a big fat F at the top of his page. He spelled all of his words correctly, right?”
I could take a few lessons from my mom. Love of learning is more important than the letter grade. I want my children to know I am proud of them for the hard work and effort they put into their accomplishments–no matter what.
Later on in my life, I did read the unabridged version of David Copperfield. It was good and I don’t really remember that many differences–just so you know. And I recommend that you read it, too. Feel free to read the Reader’s Digest version–I won’t mind 🙂