Monday, October 1, 2012

What We Are Reading

I just finished reading Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin this weekend and to use Anne Shirley's words from Anne of Green Gables, I think we are kindred spirits. I love that she belongs to three kid-lit book clubs and that she's not embarrassed to admit that she loves children's literature. She used to be though. She suppressed her love of children's literature but then realized there were others out there that loved it too. When I taught second grade, my favorite part of the day was read aloud, it didn't matter whether it was a picture book that we would read in one sitting or a chapter book that would be continued the next day. I would always strategically leave off at a cliffhanger part of the story, never just because it was time to go to PE or lunch. I loved hearing that collective "Awwwww" as I closed the book and then their chatter with one another as they left the carpet to go back to their seats or line-up for another activity. 

"I can't believe that just happened!"

"I think he's going to..."

"No, I think he's going to..."

I remember talking with someone about reading children's literature and she asked me, "Why?" Not "why" because I'm curious and I want to know your thought process and I value your opinion, but a "why" that was said with a tone that told me already that she didn't see any value in reading children's literature because we are adults and we should read adult books, not children's books.

I read children's literature for two reasons, one because I enjoy it. The main characters always seem to be on a quest, whether they are on an actual journey or on a quest to find something out about themselves as these young characters learn about the world they live in, about life lessons, or about who they are and who they want to become. Even as a grown-up, I am always learning about myself. I know I don't have everything figured out and as this young, fictional character figures something out, I find out a little something about myself, "No, I never would have had the courage to do that," or " Yes, she did the right thing and I hope that I would have done the same thing if I was in that situation."

The second reason why I read children's literature is because of my own kids. It opens up conversations at the dinner table when we both have read the same book. It gives my kids a boost of self confidence when one of my kids says, "Mom, this book is really good and you should read it," and then I do. I think it's one way that I can show them that I value their opinion. "This book is worth my time to read because you said so," speaks volumes to them. 

So this is what the Nealons are reading right now.

Chris is reading Mike Lupica's Hero as per Timmy's recommendation. This was Timmy's favorite book that he read over the summer. He said it was action packed from the first page until the last and that he wished the book was a hundred pages longer because there were still things that he wanted to know about the characters.

I am reading Freak the Mighty. This is the book Timmy's class is reading in his Language Arts class and I just so happen to have a copy of it and so I started reading it. When I shared at the dinner table that I was reading it, Timmy immediately started talking about the book, the characters, and a conversation was started.

"You do know that his dad is in prison?"

"Nope, I didn't get to that part yet."

"Oh, sorry."

At home, Timmy just finished reading Guys Read The Sports Page and has moved on to Guys Read Funny Business. These books are a collection of short stories. Timmy says he likes them because you can read an entire story in one sitting, when you read the next day, you don't have to remember where you left off because it's a completely new story.

Ryan right now is loving the Lunch Lady series. Five years ago, I wouldn't have seen the value in this graphic novel. My thought process would have been that it wasn't "real" literature and that he should be reading a "real" book. But when you have a boy that is a dormant reader, who can read but chooses not to, and can be very reluctant at times as well, I now value these graphic novels that puts a book in my boy's hands where there once was none.

Another graphic novel that Molly just read is Babymouse for President. It also is a series and she asked me to get her some more.

My next grown-up book, after I finish Freak the Mighty, is The Language of Flowers. Over the summer a Facebook friend had posted that she had read it and really enjoyed it. I saw it in Target one day and added it to my to-be-read pile. Then last week, I was reading one of my favorite blogs, Momastery and she had chosen the book for her online book club. I can't wait to read it. Glennon, the author of the Momastery blog, has a way of saying exactly how I feel. In her post about The Language of Flowers, she says that she was on a plane and she noticed a woman reading the book. She writes,

I just think sometimes people need to be a little more excitable. I mean, my friend wrote that whole book with her own brain and heart!!! And Plane Lady, you are reading it and right at this very moment falling in love with the Victoria that Vanessa CREATED! And you and Vanesssa don’t even KNOW each other but you are sort of having this intimate meeting of the minds without even being in the same STATE! You are in the AIR, actually!And now I’M here behind you thinking about how you and Vanessa and Victoria are all connecting MAGICALLY!! This is EXCITING, LADY!! Books are MAGIC!!!

Like I said, she puts into words how I feel, this time about books.

Over the summer, we had a collective family goal to read 40 books and then we went to Great Wolf Lodge at the end of the summer as a reward. Last night at the dinner table, I asked the kids if we should do that again, 40 books by Christmas. They said, "yes." We already have 7 books on our list from the start of school and I'm pretty sure we will have over 10 in just a few days. We don't know what our family reward will be, but it will be something we can do together.

So that's what the Nealons are reading. What are you reading? I am always looking for recommendations, books for boys, books for girls, and books for me, kid-lit and grown-up books.

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