I love to evangelize about books to children. Usually this happens during school visits. I add slides of books I’m excited about in my presentation. And sometimes it happens during signings. But mostly it happens in my house to my children. My daughter is an avid reader, my son is less so. But I keep trying with him. Book by multi-award winning author who also wrote Spider Man? Chapters are too long. This one has an imaginary cat! It’s too sad. Everybody’s talking about this one, and it has Legos on the cover. Nope. Typically, I read aloud to him to get him into the book, and then let him go off on his own to finish. Typically, he abandons the book after a few chapters, then goes back to his old faves: Minecraft How To books or anything by Tom Angleberger. I’m happy he has books he loves but I keep trying to expand that reading palate.
Back in May when Laura Ruby’s YORK came out, my mother, who was staying with us at the time, started reading it. The following week I was at the Queens Book Festival and a kid came to my signing line with his mom. She had a copy of THE JUMBIES clutched in her hand. “She’s right there! She’ll sign the book for you! I’m going to get it. You’re going to like it!” she declared. The kid was not biting. So I asked him what he was interested in. He liked puzzles and games. I mentioned that Karuna Riazi was somewhere around, signing THE GAUNTLET. And then I told him about YORK, which my mother had finished and could not stop talking about. I wrote down the titles so that he could go find those and read them. He was thrilled.
A few days ago I had the chance to start YORK, got a few chapters in and then decided to start over, reading it aloud to my son. Once again, he didn’t seem to be paying attention. But last night, he told me that he was making a puzzle like the Morningstarrs for his sister to solve. He was inspired, he said. I asked if he was ready for me to read some more to him. He said, okay. In the language of this particular eleven year old boy, this is the highest of praise.
Kate Messner’s THE EXACT LOCATION OF HOME is next up. The geocaching adventure that Zig undertakes–and that gets him into trouble–might interest my adventure-loving boy. I finished it last week and loved it. But as I’ve learned, what I love and what he loves is often very different. I’ll keep trying, though. Everyone doesn’t have to love every read. There are books out there for every reader even if it takes some searching.
Related: if anyone is interested in slightly-read but otherwise brand new books, let me know. My kid has a pile in his room. They’re all great. Someone out there is going to love them.