• Another 100 Days of Good Karma: Day 183 (Let ‘Em Read What They Like)

    letkidsreadwhattheylike

    Saturday, January 10, 2015

    Run/ Walk/ Bike/ Elliptical (Today:  2.50 miles;  Running Total: 123.65 miles)

    Day 183 of *Another* 100 Days of Good Karma.

    When I went to the bookstore with the kids the other day Hannah had a book in mind that she wanted. It was a graphic novel for kids. She’d already read the other two books by the author, and has been on the library waiting list for the third book for weeks.

    Unfortunately the book was sold out. I was disappointed for her. She was so excited about this book, and I resolved to find another book to feed that excitement.

    I held up some of my favorites: The Secret Garden, Little House in the Big Woods, Harry Potter.

    Hannah dutifully read the synopsis on the back of each and quietly shook her head before handing them back. She hovered near a display of the Dork Diaries while I conferred with the sales lady (who was awesomely well versed in children’s books).

    The sales lady and I worked together trying to find something on the shelves to pique Hannah’s interest. We offered a book called No more Dead Dogs (which I read parts of and thought was hilarious), a book about a girl who finds out she’s a mermaid, a fantasy novel involving dragons (because… dragons).

    “How about this one?” Hannah said, holding up a Dork Diaries book.

    “But, what about these?” I said, holding out the stack of books I’d collected.

    She hugged the Dork Diaries book to her chest and shook her head.

    I sighed and put the books back, thinking of how I was with books at Hannah’s age.

    From the outset my parents let me read what I wanted. They figured, “Hey, at least she’s reading.”

    I quickly discovered that Nancy Drew, while fun, was a tad too squeaky clean for me. I turned my back on Nancy Drew’s exploits (from which she was annoyingly always rescued by her father) and turned to R. L. Stine.

    If you aren’t familiar with this author, R. L. Stine is like a gateway drug for horror fans. When my tolerance for kiddie horror stopped getting me high I moved on to heavy duty drugs like Stephen King and Mario Puzo.

    This led to me reading both The Godfather and The Stand at the tender age of 11.

    “She knows what she likes,” my dad said, shrugging. My mom looked doubtful, but she nodded her approval. I skipped off with both books wholly unaware of the dark door I was opening.

    My parents figured out what I liked and they rolled with it. Rather than try to redirect the flame of my strange inclinations they fed the fire. And by doing so they created a deep, lifelong reverence for the written word.

    Stories of the mafia and Satan’s agent exploiting a post apocalypse world probably weren’t what my teachers wanted me reading. They weren’t exactly classical literature but all the tension and blood interdimensional violence spoke to my (deeply fucked up) sci-fi loving soul in a way that Jane Austin and Charles Dickens could not.

    (True story:  In the 11th grade my English teacher forbid me from watching the Ag class slaughter pigs.  My dad is an avid hunter and I’d seen every manner of wildlife, deer and bear and rabbit and anything that moves really, shot, skinned and quartered — sometimes on our kitchen table.  But I’d never seen a pig and I was curious.  When I asked to go watch the slaughter my English teacher gave me an odd look and responded with, “um, no.”  I think I turned out okay anyway, although he probably still has me on a list of potential mass-murderers.)

    So I looked at Hannah silently begging me with her eyes while cradling her copy of Dork Diaries and shrugged.

    My conclusion: You can’t force it. People like what they like.

    I did what my parents did. I bought the book because she wanted it. It interested her.  Lit her up in a way that The Secret Garden and Little House in the Big Woods and Harry Potter haven’t.

    (Although, not gonna lie – I’m still going to throw these at her because eventually she’ll see their awesomeness.)

    Since then she’s been curled up on a corner of the couch turning pages and smiling quietly.

    Today’s silver lining: To quote my parents, “Hey, at least she’s reading.”

    What’s your silver lining today?  I love comments!

    Don’t want to leave a comment, but have something you want to share?  Send me an email at gettingthewordswrong(at)gmail(dot)com.

    xoxo,
    Meghan

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7 Responsesso far.

  1. Tina Smith says:

    Isaac is obsessed with Diary of Wimpy Kid (which is the Dork Diary’s boy hero equivalent). Ella wants to read Dork Diaries — when she can read, of course. Isaac’s other go to books involve magic (Harry Potter, The Lightening Thief, Percy Jackson Series, or Magic Tree House).

    I totally remember RL Stine. I leaned more toward Christopher Pike. It had a mix of horror (sometimes supernatural), wonder, intrigue, sometimes a little romance. I think any book that had a dog on the cover, a spaceship, or promised to have a ghost pretty much got my attention.

    I love books. Love them, love them, love them!

  2. Melissa says:

    I also remember RL Stine and I LOVED his books when I was younger, totally brings back memories. I agree, at least she’s reading.

  3. Pat Sincox says:

    Well, my dark little friend, I have a whole new (um) appreciation for you now.

  4. Kristel says:

    I think you’re right to let her read what she wants. My childhood favorites were Jack London (4th grade), Anne McCaffery (5th grade) and David Eddings (Jr high). In 4th grade I remember I desperately wanted to become a wolf and live in Alaska. I used to growl at people who were mean to me at school. lol

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