Literacy Journey Journal #3: Do you read children’s literature?

I do read children’s books, because I work with children and because I have a 12-year-old.  If these things were different, I’m not sure I would seek out children’s books to read; that would be my loss.  It is true that I have to  read children’s books for my work, but I genuinely appreciate the layers and complexities found in so many picture books as well as the entry points for conversation that so many chapter books offer.  I

recently read Milo Imagines the World by Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson.  In the book, the young boy Milo imagines the stories of the people on the subway train with him.  A well-dressed boy with a perfect part is obviously a prince on his way to his castle.  A woman in a wedding dress is obviously going to meet her groom for their wedding day.  An old man is going to his cat-filled apartment to eat cold soup.  When Milo arrives at his destination, the little boy with the perfectly parted hair also exits the train.  Milo realizes he has the little boy’s story all wrong.  He thinks he may have gotten everyone’s story all wrong, so he reimagines them all.  The vignettes in Milo Imagines the World are reminders that people are more complex than our first impressions of them; their stories are not necessarily the ones we create from our own experiences and biases.  While an entire 400 page novel could handle this same theme, a 35-page picture book does an amazing job of it.   

The layers and nuances of picture books are appreciated, but is there any other joy that compares to sharing a picture book with 400 children and getting the chance to hear their questions and thoughts about what they read, hear, and see?  If you haven’t had the chance to listen to questions, thoughts, and reflections from children beyond your own, well, you’re truly missing out.  

I still read to my almost 12-year-old almost every night.  It is still one of my favorite parts of the day.  Reading together gives us a chance to talk about our opinions of the book, which characters we like, what we think might happen, why something is well written or clunky, why we’re just not into the book or why it’s our favorite so far, what we might want to read next.  Lately, we’ve been reading a couple of historical fiction novels, which opened up conversations about current events.

Through the nature of my work and my own child, I’m moved to keep up with children’s literature.  While I definitely have reading gaps, I’m glad children’s literature isn’t one of those gaps.

Literacy Journey Journal #2: Reading for Pleasure

Reading for pleasure seems like such an indulgence in my adult life.  Over winter break on some mornings, I woke up, let the dog out, made coffee, let the dog back in, and got back in bed to read for an hour or two.  it felt incredibly decadent, but at the same time it revived my soul.  Truly.  At some point it occurred to me to incorporate this holiday habit into my regular weekend routine. Of course that didn’t happen though.  There’s too much to do.  

I’m doing better about reading at night before going to bed, but there’s only so much reading I can do at night.  I’m tired!  My son and I still read together most nights.  This is a routine I look forward to, and I hope it will continue for a while longer.  My son is almost 12, so it gives us a chance to talk about the book, characters, and events taking place.  Sometimes it’s a chance to read something that I might not ordinarily pick out.  

I have so many great memories of getting lost in books as a child.  There were many afternoons spent reading without nagging obligations like house cleaning or grocery shopping or the haunting feeling that one should be doing this instead of that.  I suppose it’s disingenuous to claim that adult obligations like cleaning and cooking and such keeps me from reading.  I can easily spend a few hours playing Animal Crossing on the weekends.  Animal Crossing, like reading, is relaxing, but it demands less from my brain, which sometimes really needs a break.  I guess as a child my schedule wasn’t filled with the responsibilities of caring for a home and family and also carrying the weight of work.

It would be nice to recapture what seemed like limitless time to read, but I might have to settle for scheduled and shorter reading retreats. And that, I suppose, is fine too.