Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Not Just Another Test

Last year more than 9,000 students across the country chose to take the National Mythology Exam. This is a test available to 3rd-through-9th-graders in public schools, private schools and home schools. It’s just for fun—an enrichment program to encourage students’ love of mythology and classical literature.

“Just for fun?” I asked myself.

My fifth-grade daughter had never been interested in taking this exam before, and in trying to determine why she wanted to now, I thought about some of the children’s books she’s been reading over the last year or so: Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, Caroline Lawrence’s Roman Mysteries series.

Some of those books my daughter loves so much she can’t wait to share them with her out-of-town cousins in their new monthly book group. Case in point, next month’s book is Riordan’s Lightening Thief, a novel about a modern-day boy who learns the gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus are real.

It seems impossible to me that a public school kid in today’s world of high-stakes testing would want to take another test—and even study for it. But it's hard to predict what will engage a kid’s imagination.

A pleasure of parenting is finding out what does.

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