Saturday, November 13, 2010

He finally fell in love with a book!

Some of you may remember my friend Adam, who when he was 7 (he is now 10) had no trouble understanding why writers make so little money once I explained the concept of royalties. He nodded sagely and said,
"Most books are really boring."

More recently, he complained that his teacher last year "made" them read a book a month and how glad he was that school ended "before we had to finish the last one." But now he has read a book that he loved. He's a slow reader, and it took him a YEAR, but he finished it.

So last Sunday, when we went for a hike here,

we mainly talked about books. He described the plot of HIS book in great detail, then explained how 80% of the books published are "terrible," 10% "bad," and the rest, "really good."

He asked me to tell him about the best and worst books I'd ever read--I did, and was surprised that he'd heard of most of the ones I loved:

"Someone in my class read that and thought it was really good," he'd say, or,
"A girl in my class loved that, but I didn't think I'd find it interesting."

He hadn't heard of TREASURE ISLAND and when I told him the beginning, thought it sounded really good, but urged me to tell him the whole story anyway since "I'll never read it." He has just finished the only book he's ever really liked, and wants to read the second in the series. Since the first took him a year, he's not optimistic about starting any other books any time soon. He thought GRIMBLE sounded really, really funny -- he laughed aloud when I quoted it - but didn't want to read that, either: he's saving his reading time for the book after

DORMIA. And yes, this IS the child who said only a little while ago that he liked realistic fiction. He said he liked this because he could picture everything so clearly-- he added that he doesn't like books with pictures because THEY do the imagining for you. He likes really long books because he "hates to choose" and it's good to have something that has "500 solitary pages" --not sure what he meant by "solitary"--he's at an age to use long words to impress).

Lastly, I don't think this proves anything about novels vs. picture books, or realistic fiction vs. fantasy, or kids now or anything else, other than that what makes someone love a book is as completely mysterious and unpredictable as any kind of falling in love. YOU NEVER KNOW, even when you know the person and the book pretty well. I find that encouraging.


Michelle Ray said...

The author of DORMIA came to visit the school where I teach in Maryland and he was an AMAZING speaker. I was on the edge of my seat.

I write and teach reading, and my daughter hates to read. The irony is not lost on me. When we do find a good book for her, there's no greater pleasure.

Charlotte said...

Oh my goodness...Dormia! That surprised me...not because it's a bad book, or anything, but because it isn't all those things that books "attractive" to relcutant readers are supposed to be!

It just goes to show how hard it is to perdict what an individual kid will go for.

nelsong said...

REally, who wouldn't love Grimble?

Libby Koponen said...

Michelle: thanks! The authors both sounded really interesting to me and I'm really glad to have that confirmed. Imay even read the book. :-)

Charlotte: yes, I was astonished,and that's what I find so interesting about it -- you just can't tell.

Nelson: Well, he DID laugh out loud when I described the toast business....and by the way hello and I am really hoping to come visit soon!

Thanks to all for commenting.