Yesterday on the way to a violin lesson, my daughter told me that she was in the school library and found a book called “The Mozart Problem.” She then proceeded to tell me the whole story, the whole time demurring about her ability to do it justice. I assured her that she was doing a very good job of telling the story. At the end, she said that she wanted to read it again, but the librarian didn’t really let the middle school kids check out picture books, just chapter books.
What. The. …?
Of course I sent an email to the librarian asking for clarification. No response yet. (For those of you who know me and the kind of turns of phrase I’m prone to, I assure you, it was a polite email. Not just Tracey polite. Actual polite.)
This morning, when I woke up sleepy boy for breakfast, he was rolled over a copy of “Dark Matter,” one of the first books I edited for Rosen last season. When the book arrived at the house, he immediately grabbed it up, and I hadn’t seen it since. This is a book from Rosen’s “Scientist’s Guide to Physics” series, so the readability is much higher than his 3rd grade level. I know. I ran the readability myself. I asked him if he was reading it, and he said he’d already read “about half.” Then I asked if he understood what he was reading, and he admitted that there were a lot of words he didn’t understand–science words–but that he was continuing to read it anyway.
You can imagine how this makes me happy. I took a picture to send it to the author.
Now, obviously I’m not the kind of parent who’s hung up on age suggestions on the backs of book covers. If my kids want to read something, they can go right ahead. Well, mostly. I do take some parental license. For e.g. I made my daughter wait to read the last couple of Harry Potters until she was ten. Actually, I think she still hasn’t read the final one, and is unlikely to now that she’s moved on to the likes of The Hunger Games. My son is still hoarding board books. To be fair, I think my daughter might still be hoarding a couple herself.
I still have some of my fairy tales from when I was a kid. They are tattered and gross, and I still read those bad boys every now and then. And when the kids borrow them, I make them swear on pain of no dessert that they will return them in the same tatters they found them with.
Isn’t that how it should be? Does it even matter what the book is so long as it’s a good one?
During the kerfuffle last year over some ridiculous adult saying that it was pathetic for other adults to be reading children’s books–specifically YA, my mother asserted that she loved picture books. Who was going to read them to the children? How were they going to learn to read? And how would you have a conversation with them about it afterward? All reasonable questions, Mom. Of course children’s book writers countered with, “So we can write the books, but we’re not allowed to read them?” I mean it is the rare 3 year old who gets a publishing deal for board books, right? There are way too many “supposed tos” and “can’ts” in the world. Can we just leave that out of what people–especially small people–should be reading?