I had a moment of panic recently when my fifth grade son Evan told me that a friend wanted to share one of his Lord of the Rings movies. Evan had never read the books! This was unacceptable, so I quickly found copies and asked him to give them a try before watching the film.
He struggled through The Fellowship of the Ring and gave up about a third of the way into The Two Towers. I understood, but I was slightly disappointed. I cherished these books when I was his age: they spawned a geek's love of fantasy, Dungeons & Dragons, and all the rest. These books that I loved bored him.
It's tempting to think that Evan should have been more persistent. But he has access to what I didn't: an amazing abundance of reading choices in the fantasy genre, all targeted right at his age group. When I was young, Tolkien was one of the few games in town--we didn't have many other options. The Chronicles of Prydain. A Wrinkle in Time. Narnia. What else was there?
Remembering clearly now, The Lord of the Rings had often bored me, too. How many verses of Elvish poetry did I skip? And Frodo and Sam marching ... and marching ... and marching to Mordor. Ugh. But there was no where else to turn, so I got through all three books. It's not that Evan's not up to the challenge. It's that he's got options--many more than I had.
I feel the same way about adult literature these days. Setting...