As if they weren’t awesome enough, John and Hank Green have launched a new (?) series on their YouTube channel. I am in Geek Heaven.
For those of you who do not know, John Green is probably the most talented YA author writing today. I am almost evangelical about his novel Looking for Alaska with my 8th graders. I have reached more reluctant readers with that novel than any other. Time Magazine named his newest novel, The Fault in Our Stars, the #1 novel of the year – not just the #1 YA novel – the #1 novel. Period. Now I am getting all hipster- like “Hey- I liked John Green before John Green was cool.” Which is ridiculous, because the thing I am going to talk about today already has over 400,000 YouTube subscribers, and I just found out about it.
John teamed up with his brother, Hank, to create the Vlog Brothers, the Nerdfighters, and they are fighting WorldSuck with the Project For Awesome. When they talk, I’m all, “I totally remember you from AP English in high school.” Except I don’t. I grew up in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago, and they didn’t. But they are geeks in the same way that I am a geek and the same way that my friends were geeks. I will never forget the nights spent drinking coffee after orchestra rehearsal in Elgin… trying to stump each other at The Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, dropping literary references and obscure music references because we were just that cool… Ah, the good old days.
Anywho… the reason I am ranting about John and Hank Green… I just found out about “Crash Course,” their educational channel on YouTube. Hank talks about science and John talks about history and literature. I can see them coming in handy with high schoolers or gifted middle schoolers. Sorry, guys- you use really big words for the typical middle schooler. John’s breakdown of The Great Gatsby is like watching live-action Cliffs Notes. Except.
The two things that make this so much better than Cliffs Notes, aside from the fact that the Brothers Green are at the helm, are…
1. It isn’t boring. It actually sucks you in. I know all of the stuff he said about Gatsby already, and I was still really engaged.
2. It isn’t a plot summary. Oh, how I hate plot summaries. If you have ever read book reviews on Goodreads or Amazon, you will know what I mean. The plot summary is up above. Next to the picture of the book. Do. not. summarize. again. Please. Just tell me what you thought of the book. For the love of god.
My favorite book about books is How to Read Literature Like A Professor by Thomas C. Foster. In it, he breaks down symbolism and makes it so much more accessible to the average reader. When I was in high school, I always thought my English teachers were pulling some of the stuff they said out of thin air. Foster’s book made it all make so much more sense to me. Why couldn’t my teachers just explain it to me the way Foster did??? The Green boys do just that- explain the nuances in a much more accessible way.