I love having a real reader in the house. A bona-fide, chapter-book-devouring, one-third-of-the-way-through-summer-reading-in-seven-days reader. But you know what? If I didn’t put my foot down, he’d read nothing but superheroes. Graphic novels, picture books, chapter books–doesn’t matter. As long as it’s a Transformer or a or a LEGO Heroes Factory or a DC or Marvel hero, he’s all over it. Ask him to read Prince Caspian and you get The Look.
The second graders had a reading challenge in April. The top readers got prizes. Alex read three hours the first day, and then a few days later he got sick and had to stay home from school for a day. Another three hours. I thought he had this thing in the bag, but a couple of girls beat him by almost a thousand minutes. (Gnash gnash gnash.)
Anyway–in preparation for this reading challenge, I stopped one of the children’s librarians at the public library and asked her for suggestions. She gave me a whole list, and I took home four (non-superhero) books. The rule was: one superhero book, followed by one not.
See, I remember how I was when I was younger. Brace yourselves, I’m about to show the true extent of my geekdom. For about six years, I read almost nothing but Star Trek novels.
Yeah, I did just admit that in public. The first step is to admit it, y’know.
Now, I still like Star Trek–the new ones more than the old, I must admit–but I wouldn’t ever want any child of mine to be as myopic as I was. I missed so much good literature because I stuck with characters I knew and formulas I could count on to entertain. I didn’t want to branch out and take a risk. So I boxed myself in.
I love superheroes (though comic books and graphic novels make me want to hurl myself off a cliff; there’s way too much visual clutter in there; I can’t even figure out how to read them), and I’m happy to have Alex read about them. But not a steady diet. Let’s get some green veggies in there, too, boy. You might just discover you like them.
Since school let out, Christian has graduated Alex to some of his graphic novels, and it’s getting harder than ever to pry him away to something else. So this morning, we walked straight up to the children’s desk and accosted the same librarian who helped two months ago. She rose to the occasion beautifully, walking him all over the juvenile section to get him things that will feel like superheroes, but aren’t. Alex came back with a stack of ten chapter books. Ten. For an eight-year-old. And that works out, because the rest of the kids sure didn’t need to come back to the library after one week. Maybe this stack will last him two. Although he read three of them before bedtime. Oh well.
In the meantime, I’m just grateful for librarians who have a passion for their work. What would we do without them?