Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Cro-Magnon Kids and David Letterman

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So, I’m walking with my daughter Shiloh to school last week. Part of our daily ritual is to get caught up on Grade Six rumor milling, and it’s a time for us to talk public school smack (eg. Valentine’s Day crushes, who’s using what cuss words). I tell her publishing business stories, fill her in on who got Key Portered. She couldn’t care less about any of this bunk. Smart kid.

I notice that she’s slumped over, knuckles nearly dragging on the icy Eglinton Ave. sidewalk. It’s 2011, but she’s looking like a Cro-Magnon Kid. Her normally upright posture is now downright uncomfortable to look at. She’s quite literally dragging her feet, between carrying her neoprene lunch bag and slugging along her violin, she looks like a hot daughterly mess.

It’s one thing to have an albatross around your neck, and then there’s the next worst thing, which might be carrying school textbooks on your back. These large, unsightly, cumbersome things (i.e. textbooks) will hopefully be on their way out, before my seedling hits her sophomore year in high school. One can only dream.

Based on not wanting to be stuck in an unfortunate time warp, like Don Cherry, and after looking at these public school munchkins lugging these large bulky texts, that are sometimes larger than their heads and appendages, I say, “out with the old, in with the new and nucleus”! I came to this conclusion, after giving it much thought. And apparently so did Toronto District School Board administrators.

In the tradition of Late Night with David Letterman, here are the Top Ten Reasons Textbooks Bite, like Mike Tyson.

Djembe drum roll, please...

  1. Textbooks are costly, public school boards are broke. SEE Toronto TDSB.

  2. When you have to buy, use and re-sell these large, unsightly university textbooks back for 1/3 of their actual cover price, you’re getting jobbed. You’re getting TTC’d.

  3. The debate over ebooks versus hard-copy tomes is a different debate than this one over digital textbooks. No one wants to keep, cherish or read school textbooks for their aesthetic appeal, or graph design elements. Nooobody.

  4. Our environment is taking a beating, like a Pittsburg Penguin. Or New York Islander, circa 2011. Did you see those beat downs being handed out by these thugs on ice on February 11? It’s time to do this, go digital text booking and reduce our carbon footprint. And to reduce the footprint and ice skate print that the Penguins left winger put on that Islanders goalies grill.

  5. Our kids should not be walking around all slouched over like Neanderthal Tots. I love R&B crooner Mary J. Blige. Textbooks are Mary J. Bulge.

  6. Those preposterously offensive and outdated textbooks I read and was fed in public school that celebrated Christopher Columbus for “discovering” a bunch of things that had already been there hundreds of years prior (this guy ruined everything) can now all be burned and/or updated to meet modern day, intellectual needs, if we get some digital textbooks happening. A textbook that is old and crusty and Columbus-friendly, and doesn’t mention Toronto FC, Drake or Obama is pure sacrilege.

  7. I don’t want anyone who works in book production or printing houses to get HB Fenned or whatever, at all, but the costs associated with printing, binding and shipping books would be eliminated if our texts went digital.

  8. Many textbook publishers already publish electronic editions of their books, so save the hate mail and vitriol for yo mama. And her more than half a dozen lovers too.

  9. Kindle, Nook, Sony E-Reader, Jetbook Lite, Apple Tablets, whatevs. They are all going to have to work their stuff out, for the greater good (read: kids should be able to read whatever they want, across devices, ya’ dig). Literature is literature my E-friends, and access to information is what’s important here. It should be an inalienable right. All of these great texts need to be digitized and made compatible for all units, across formats and made available for whatever reader or software we buy.

  10. Down with the luddites (and Justin Bieber supporters too). And Jah bless Esperanza Spalding and Toronto’s Blyth Academy! The latter’s students were introduced to Sony Digital Readers in 2009, and the school is saving money as a result.

Dalton Higgins is a music programmer, pop culture critic, author, broadcaster and national magazine award-winning journalist. He is Canada’s foremost expert on hip hop culture. In addition to writing numerous articles for Canadian and US print and on-line magazines, he is the author of Hip Hop World (Groundwood Books/House of Anansi) and co-author of Hip Hop (Thomson Nelson) and Much Master T: A VJ’s Journey (ECW Press). As a broadcaster, Dalton has hosted his own TV show and has appeared as a pundit on every major Canadian network. You can visit Dalton at his blog. His most recent book is Fatherhood 4.0: iDad Applications Across Cultures (Insomniac Press).

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