My older brother, Mike, had a bookshelf filled with intriguing books. One of them was Animal Farm. I tried to read it several times, but it was too boring. I told Mike that it was boring, and he responded that good books were sometimes boring. I told him that if a book was boring, it wasn't good. He then gave it to me and told me it was time to read a boring book, and that I had to read it.
I took it to my room. Suddenly, a truth came to me that I hadn't ever realized before. Just because my big brother gave me an assignment, didn't mean that I had to do it. I empowered myself and changed my life by not reading Animal Farm. Eventually, Mike gave me a dull paragraph from a philosophy book to read, and I read it. I had won the fight for my soul, and could afford to be charitable.
Somehow I got older, and read Animal Farm on my own initiative. I started in the middle, and worked my way out, and then reread it front to back. I thought it was an amazing although sad story about an animal farm with intelligent animals. I didn't like the pigs. I wished the cat was in it more.
In eighth grade, we read the book in Mr. Piersen's class. He made charts like this:
Napoleon <--> Stalin
Snowball <--> Trotsky
Old Major <--> Lenin
Having read it previously, the whole emphasis on symbolism didn't destroy the book for me; it enhanced it. I was able to read Animal Farm again, this time seeing it in a new and interesting light. I had to write the obligatory paper on it, and I decided to try to find out when things first started going wrong for the animals. When was the initial sign of immanent corruption? I settled on the sentence " [the dogs] wagged their tails for him [Napoleon] the exact way they did for Jones." I thought this a deep observation.
I don't think this classic story is boring at all, and would recommend it to any child who is ready for it. Its never too early to start mistrusting people with power.
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hits since Feb 1, 2000