In which Annie (high school teacher, mother of two young girls and a younger boy) and her aunt Deborah (children's bookseller, mother of two young women in their 20s) discuss children's books and come up with annotated lists.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

On not reading books you hate

I love the Santore-illustrated Wizard of Oz so much. It's one of my first choices for a gift to a 4 to 6 year-old (Eleanor's a little unusual being so into it at 3). A word of caution to anyone thinking about buying it: there are currently two editions of this gorgeous book, one larger and better printed than the other. I strongly recommend the Random House edition, which is more expensive than the smaller Sterling Press edition. The color especially is much more vivid.

Your last post brings up a theme that I care deeply about: parental feelings about the books they're reading to their children. As you already know well, children develop different opinions from their parents very early in life. So when Eleanor wants you to read Dora Loves Boots (or the equivalent) five times a day, remember the advice my mother (your grandmother) gave your mother when you were young. If you can't stand a book, throw it out before it makes your reading time miserable. As you remember, Grandma Helen loved books, and certainly did not seem to be a book destroyer. But she understood one of the great truths of reading with your child: it's an intense bonding experience. Parent and child feel closer, and it's how children develop a love of reading. If a parent is hating the book s/he is reading aloud, the kid will catch on, and often end up less enthusiastic about reading time. I'm not talking about the so-so books; I'm talking about the ones you really really dread facing one more time. I have a suspicion that The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, which I loved as a child but never managed to get through when my kids were little, was the inspiration for Grandma's advice: she really hated it. You will note that she didn't act on her own advice ( at least not on the Peppers), but I think the jarring concept of throwing out a book underscores how important it is for both parent and child to be comfortable when reading together.

Aunt D.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting -- as I was reading your post, I assumed that the next phrase after "so if your child is reading something you hate..." was going to be "let him/her be. Differences of opinion encourage the maturation process,etc..." Your opinion and advice were surprising and refreshing! It is the right, the responsibility, and the honor to share and encourage what we love, no?

    I don't have any children but this argument is similar to what a friend of mine said about parenting "tricks" -- i.e. Choose a go-to-sleep routine that works for you and that will continue to work for you night after night after night.

    Thanks for the thoughts!