Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Reading: Keeping up with Twelve

Twelve did not really start reading until she was nine or ten, but has been making up for it in the last couple of years. In the last few months, though, we've been madly reading the same books, arguing playfully about who gets to read what first and pretending to spoil the endings for each other.

My policy has always been that she can read whatever she wants. When she first started reading independently, I didn't push any given book overly much, I just made piles of secondhand paperbacks appear, and casually mentioned that she was welcome to read any of the books that have been on the shelves as long as she can remember. So far, she's avoided the Dworkin/Firestone/Borg/Ehrenreich/Kingsolver/Gladwell shelves entirely.

At the same time, I wanted her to read good books. I made my peace with the Babysitters' Club a few years back because a friend of mine handed down approximately one billion Babysitters' Club books to her, but how could I possibly encourage Good Literature without making it sound, well, boring? We all know what the official stamp of approval does to the appeal of anything. (Sorry, mom, I never did read anything by David Copperfield. Or was that the name of a character?)

Luckily, she definitely enjoyed quite a few of the books I loved as a child and which still occupy my bookshelves; Gone Away Lake, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and the Anastasia books, to name a few. I have absolutely loved re-reading them alongside her. (Full confession: I read Gone Away Lake and its sequel every couple of years anyway.)

Our current state of obsession, though, really started with Lois Lowry's Anastasia books. One afternoon, we took turns reading aloud the opening section of the one in which Anastasia is lying on the floor groaning, but doesn't realize that groaning isn't actually a pronunciation of the word 'groan,' so her mom comes in because she thought she heard Anastasia calling 'mom.' It may not sound like much of a scene, but when you are reading it to your twelve-year-old through giggles and both of you are acting out the deathbed scenes along with Anastasia (Charlotte, of Charlotte's Web, is a highlight), it's HILARIOUS.

I'm not sure who to thank for introducing Twelve to Hunger Games, but we both slurped it right up and demanded more. That series really cemented the habit of looking for and reading books together. We soon "discovered" that if we like a book, the same person might have written others! The mad hunt for all the Anastasia books soon led to excitement about finding any Lois Lowry title. I told Twelve about how excited I was as a child when I described a book I'd read to the librarian, who nodded knowingly and led me to an ENTIRE SHELF of Boxcar Children titles. What I didn't tell her is how exciting it is to relive that experience with her - or how much fun it is to have a really, really good excuse to read young adult fiction!

Also, Twelve wants to sit on my lap now.

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