Is the kite runner okay for tenth graders?

SaveSavedRemoved 0
Deal Score0
Deal Score0

Is the kite runner okay for tenth graders?

“My tenth grader has to read The Kite Runner for school. Do you know anything about it Is it okay for him to read? "

“My 15 year old daughter was hired to do the kite runner for the school. I don't feel comfortable when she reads it. Can you recommend a replacement? "

And so it goes. This is the first request from our readers about the exchange of school books.

The Kite Runner: a summary

The kite runner from Khaled Hosseini. Riverhead, 2003. 371 pages.

  • Reading level: Adult
  • Recommended for: From 16 years of age * (see notes below)

Amir (the narrator) and Hassan grew up together in Afghanistan; Hasan and his father are servants in Amir's father's household. Both boys lost their mothers as infants and both nursed from the same breast – a fact that holds them together for a lifetime. Hassan is always the devoted friend (and servant), and Amir also regards Hassan as his best friend … until a traumatic event happens to Hassan while Amir watches without intervening. Amir's guilt for cowardice fosters a growing resentment against Hasan, a bitterness toward life, and a desire to get rid of Hassan. After all, Hassan's presence is a constant reminder of Amir's failure. When the war hits Afghanistan, Amir and his father will travel to America. Hassan and his father stay behind. Decades later, Amir returns to Afghanistan. This time he is working to intervene on behalf of Hassan's son.

Kite Runner Considerations

* Spoiler Alert * It is impossible to debate whether The Kite Runner is "okay" to a reader without revealing a number of spoilers. Please note that this is a rating for parents, not children.

Amir is desperate to get his father's attention, but his father values ​​athleticism rather than his son's ability to write. He knows that it will make his father proud to bring home the last kite that falls into the annual kite-flying competition. Hassan is the best kite runner and runs to find him. He tells Amir, "For you a thousand times."

To bring the coveted dragon home, Hassan has to walk through a deserted alley. Assef, the resident bully, and his two buddies are lurking. Assef claims the victorious kite. Hassan refuses. Assef warns him again, saying Hassan will pay if he doesn't stick to it. Hassan refuses and knows how important the dragon is to Amir.

What follows (Chapter 7) is traumatic: Assef's two friends hold Hassan down while Assef rapes him. Amir is watching the whole thing.

The description isn't overly graphic (compared to some of the YA novels on library shelves these days), but it is very unsettling to read. Since this is the primary "stimulating event" that sets the rest of the book in motion, it is impossible to take out or gloss over the scene.

Unfortunately there is more trauma. When Amir finally returns to Afghanistan as an adult, he finds that Hassan and his wife were murdered by the Taliban. He goes looking for her son Sohrab.

Sohrab was taken from his orphanage in Kabul by a “man” who sometimes “takes children” to send money to the orphanage. These children become sex slaves in the man's house. Who is the man? Assef. But Assef not only takes children for his own pleasure, he also oversees gruesome public killings on behalf of the Taliban. One such murder is described in the book before Amir's attempt to save Sohrab.

Saving Amir from Sohrab is a gruesome, violent proposition. Sohrab's trauma is big enough that he tries suicide. Neither of them make it back to America.

One could argue that "everything ends well is good," but the book doesn't end well. After reading so much Trauma, readers need a little more hope than the slightest glimmer at the end: Sohrab smiles for the first time in a year. He hasn't spoken in a year either. He is as fragile as the kites that fly them.

The truth is that without Christ we are all desperately sinful, desperately trapped in webs of deception, violence and oppression. Books don't have to explicitly offer that hope, but we know there is hope and the best stories offer hope, a way out of despair. The hope for The Kite Runner is weak at best.

Why is the Kite Runner used in schools?

Hosseini is an amazingly talented writer. His prose is beautiful. A Thousand Splendid Suns, his second novel, is even more beautifully written on a prose level than The Kite Runner. Hosseini is a native Afghan. He represents a modern immigrant experience and a Muslim voice, neither of which are prominent in the American literary canon.

But even though he is a gifted writer and comes from a part of the world that we would introduce to our students, I wouldn't need a student to read Hosseini's books. Nice prose about ugly trauma does not guarantee a worthwhile read.

Can some students "handle" this book? Maybe. Do traumatic things happen? Absolutely. Is war a terrible experience for everyone involved? Certainly.

But the trauma in this book could dwarf some of its supposed benefits.

The kite runner is ultimately about feelings of guilt, trauma and their effects on the psyche. It's about bullying, standing up for yourself and your friends, and real friendship.

What now?

What Can a Parent Do When a Book Like The Kite Runner Is Given Out In School?

Firstly, good for you if you know what was assigned in the first place! Parents who care about their child's education are doing the right thing.

Second, students practice being adults. It is good for them to read adult titles and grapple with real problems. That doesn't mean everyone needs to read The Kite Runner, but it's good to remember in general.

Third, it's okay to request a replacement. You may have to choose your battles rather than request replacements for every literary text, but this is an argument. In our next post we have 12 substitution ideas for you.

Recommended reading by the redeemed reader

What do you think? Is The Kite Runner a book students need to read?

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply