How What My Children Are Reading Affects My Own Book Selections

Saturday, May 17, 2014
My daughter engaging in her favorite pastime . . . reading.

I discovered a fun new reading discussion website in the past few weeks with book suggestions for children’s literature. Author Allison Winn Scotch got the idea to start up Parents Reads Best while she was searching for new reading material for her two children, ages 7 and 9. As an aspiring children’s writer, I love browsing through the forums not only to get ideas for my two kids, but to see what books are getting buzz in the genres I enjoy reading.

Yes, I read children’s books, and a lot of them. I rediscovered my love for children’s literature around the time my daughter (almost 11) started reading longer middle-grade books. First, I introduced her to some of my old favorites, such as The Babysitter’s Club series, Nancy Drew and Encyclopedia Brown. From there, she branched out to Roald Dahl and more stories with magical realism and fantasy. But there have been several instances where I’ve heard great reviews about a middle-grade book and suggested she read it first, such as Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me. When she finished it she couldn’t stop raving about it so I read it, too.

She got hooked on author Wendy Mass not long after that and encouraged me to read A Mango-Shaped Space, where I learned all about a really unique neurological condition called synesthesia. The main character, Mia (also my daughter’s name, by the way) can actually see sounds and letters of the alphabet in color. I haven’t cried that much after reading a children’s book in years. I am so thankful that she loves to read and discuss books with me, and I feel like the books I’m exposed to through my daughter are just as valuable as what I would find in any contemporary children’s literature class.

The books I learn about from my son, an 8-year-old who loves typical boy humor, are much different. He likes borrowing my daughter’s Sonic the Hedgehog graphic novels and snickering over the scrapes Greg Heffley from the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series gets into. They make for a good laugh, but I usually find myself trying to explain a teachable moment from Greg’s escapades. His teacher noticed he loves books with very mischievous main characters, which is funny because he is very much the rule follower in class. Thankfully, he does appreciate more serious literature, too, as he gave me a full summary of Kate Di Camillo's The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane the other day when his class finished it in read aloud. It will be interesting to see how his taste in books changes as he grows older, and I look forward to seeing what he’ll read as a teen.

Do you know a voracious young reader? If so, how do his or her book selections affect the books you decide to read?

Renee Roberson is an award-winning writer and editor who also blogs at Renee's Pages.


Sioux Roslawski said...

"Rising Tiger" is a great children's book."Ghostdog Secrets" is another goodie. "Freeman" by Leonard Pitts Jr. is one of the best novels I've read in a long time, but it's an adult novel.

(I know that's not what you asked, Renee, but I couldn't resist plugging those two, in case you have not read either one of them.)

I try to give my students a choice when choosing a read-aloud. Sometimes they're a more serious group, and love a book with more conflict, more issues. Other groups need funny things to keep them engaged. Most years, I try to read some of the books that have been nominated for awards (in Missouri, it's the Mark Twain nominees).

Renee Roberson said...

Oh man, Ghost Dog Secrets looks like it has the potential to be a weeper! I'll have to check out the other two as well. I'm always on the look out for good books, children or adult! What grade do you teach, Sioux?

Sioux Roslawski said...

Third--the grade when the kids are still trusting enough to believe I used to be a professional wrestler. (I tell them I used to wrestle under the name "Rowdy Roslawski.")

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