Children’s Lit Corner

One Saturday when I was about nine or ten years old I made an amazing discovery. There was a ballpark about a block and a half from my house, and as I was walking along the cracked sidewalk beside the bleachers, a large bus-like vehicle drove slowly down the street and parked just in front of me. It’s just a bus bringing a team to play on the field, I thought. Then the door opened and the tantalizing smell of old books and some other indescribable whiff of imagination and adventure wafted out. I knew that scent. That vehicle was a bookmobile! Once a month from as early as I can remember, my family had a library night. We would hunt through the house, each of us gathering up our five books from behind the couch or under the beds. Then we would clamber into the car and drive to the city library where we would each pick out another five books. We always finished the books long before the next month’s excursion. Yes, I knew that smell—it was the smell of the library, the aroma of magic!

For some reason, by design or destiny, my city neighborhood had been added to the bookmobile route. Every other Saturday the bookmobile would spend about a half hour parked adjacent to the ballpark. That first day I ran home for my library card and my siblings, and we sprinted back to fill our arms with books. In the following weeks, my sisters and I rounded up our friends and would be waiting on the dried grass next to the curb for the bookmobile to arrive.

I still remember the feeling—a mixture of hunger and delight—that would settle around me on the short walk home. Without the bookmobile visiting my neighborhood, it would have taken me a lot longer to discover the Chronicles of Narnia, books by Madeleine L’Engle, Lassie Come Home, and many other books that became my companions during those years.

So what I am wondering today is how our own children satiate their hunger for reading. I know reading has changed over the years, and in many ways for the better. Thanks to Harry Potter, we know children can maintain their interest and attention for hundreds of pages and several years. There are more children’s and young adult books available than ever before, and happily there are authors from all different backgrounds, including from an LDS background.

But reading has changed. Kids don’t have as much free time to lounge around with their noses in books anymore, or so it seems to me. The computer is a constant lure or distraction, and personal game-playing devices can quickly eat up any reading time. But there are the kids who still find time to smuggle a flashlight under the covers, or curl up with a book on the couch or in the closet.

I was so proud of my oldest son, Ben. He got his first part-time job over the summer washing dishes in a local restaurant. When he got his first real paycheck, the first thing he did was ask me to take him to the bank to get his own account. Then he cashed his check, put some into savings, and used the rest to buy a Kindle! Now I see him curled up on the couch reading Jane Eyre (for school) and some long epic fantasy trilogy for fun. I’m so glad to know reading is important to him.

But not all kids are the same. One of my other sons reads graphic novels almost exclusively — except for the Wimpy Kid books. And my middle son loves to listen to audio books. When do your kids read, and how do they get their books? I’m interested in all your ideas and memories of reading, new and old.

This entry was posted in Children's Lit corner, Electronic Age, YA corner. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Children’s Lit Corner

  1. Lacey Smith says:

    Great post, and so many true points! My kids read Narnia, Harry Potter, etc. and it was great because those were books that I read too. It was nice to be able to have a dinner time discussion focused on something other than computer or video games, or Facebook and the like. Now that they’re older, I’m proud to say that they’ve started a book club with their friends! It’s amazing to see them interacting in that way. They just read a great book I’d like to recommend called “Dr. Fuddle and the Gold Baton” by Warren L. Woodruff, you can check it out and get it right from the website http://www.drfuddle.com/. They all loved it! Thanks again for the post!

  2. Jonathan Langford says:

    I was a library kid, growing up. My oldest son (now in college) was a heavy book reader, but preferred to own the books he was reading. My two younger children (ages 12 and 17) do some reading of physical books, but also do a lot of fanfiction reading online.

    I’ve determined that all reading more or less counts as reading, whether online or not. Fanfiction reading has some advantages, in that it’s highly invitational and even interactive: you give feedback to the authors, and sooner or later you tend to wind up writing some yourself (as my 17-year-old has done). It has some disadvantages too.

    I just finished reading Lord of the Rings out loud to my two younger children (a long-term effort), and utilized my knowledge as an English teacher to talk about some of the ways that Tolkien is really very good. They seemed open to that. It gives me hope that while they may enjoy fictional junk food, they also are coming to know and like the good stuff — and how to tell the difference.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>