Sunday, July 20, 2014

What The Kids Are Reading: July 2014

I used to do this snapshot of kids / family reading material posts from time to time, and looking back, they're quite a good record of the shifting sands of our reading lives. So I thought, why not.

July has been a reading-heavy month in my family - well, even more than usual, I mean - with school holidays / work leave and our trip to Queensland, which provided many an opportunity for lolling about with books.

My about-to-be-11-year-old, A, is very deeply entranced with Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus books at present.

She's read all the Percy ones at least three times each, and is now working her way avidly through the Olympus books. She read at cafes, walking on the street, lying in bed, on the beach, by the pool ... from when she acquired the book pictured (on day 5 of our holiday) until she had read it cover to cover TWICE, she was not super interested in doing anything else! Thankfully, that only took her about 48 hours all told.

She's also gotten into a new series called The Luck Uglies (the book is, apparently, going to be the first of a trilogy). Her taste for fantasy, especially dark, tricksy fantasy, is very pronounced at the moment, and it's provoking some interesting discussions.

Next down is the 9 year old, E, whose obsession and delight right now is the Harry Potter books. She's rounding the corner towards the finish-line on book 6 and takes great delight in reading lengthy passages aloud to demonstrate to me (I am, granted, not a Potter fan myself) how incredible they are. We had a few reservations about her reading the later Potter books - she is, after all, only 9 - but she is coping with the darker themes well and after all, it would've felt rather mean to let her get engaged in the story and then make her wait years to see it end.

In a perhaps not unrelated development, E is also greatly enjoying Enid Blyton's school stories at the moment - particularly the St Clares books and the Malory Towers books.  She herself not infrequently notes similarity in underlying themes or treatments between Blyton's old-skool schools and Hogwarts; it's interesting to see her make these connections and enjoy the resonances that Rowling uses to enhance the Potter stories. I've hunted up my old Chalet School books for her to try; I think she's probably ready to enjoy them too.

Even though both A and E are extremely competent readers, we still do read-alouds of chapter books. I enjoy reading to them, the time together and the conversations it starts. They like the cuddly together time and the feeling that we are all sharing in a journey together. At the moment, I am reading them Susan Cooper's inimitable Dark is Rising series; we are in the fifth and final book, Silver on the Tree. Next up we are going to do Diana Wynne Jones's Power of Three because I loved it sincerely when I was 12 and I want to read it again :-)

My 5 year old, C, is just starting to crack the code of reading herself, and is very, very interested in having books read to her that either use pattern and rhyme, or contain lots of words she can recognise or clear visual cues for words. However, she doesn't like really "babyish" (her word) or reader-style books - she wants plot! She wants entertainment!

To that end, we've been revisiting lots of Dr Seuss at bedtime - she is especially fond of The Sneetches and Other Stories, The Lorax, The Cat in the Hat and Daisy-Head Mayzie. She is also super keen on her Charlie and Lola books again - I have only realised now, watching her interact with them, just how well Lauren Childs wrote those books to be not just funny and appealing, but accessible to new readers. There is a preponderence of word choices that support reading development and promote success, and I love that about them.

One thing that isn't so much in this category, but that C is adoring (and I am adoring reading to her), is Elisabeth Beresford's classic The Wombles. I myself first became acquainted with The Wombles in childhood via the BBC TV show, but the book itself as an untrammeled pleasure, and reading it to C is lovely.

We're back into school and work now, which can mean that reading slows a little, but I expect we'll still find lots of corners of time that a book is the best way to fill!

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