The daughter has been reconnecting with a good friend from Portland and the friend is involved in Oregon Battle of the Books. I am supposing this has been the impetus for Natalya’s scouring of mine and Sean’s bookshelves for “Must-Read” material.
“Mom, Can I read Wuthering Heights, you think?”
“…um, you could, I suppose, but would—.”
“Can you pull some books for me that you think I should/could read?”
I’ve culled a few to keep her entertained, but I know I am going to have to make a second pass soon. And while this situation/post could be viewed as bragging; really, it is me being a bit unsure—thinking I should just remove some of the known “not nows” (ala Palahniuk) and let her browse.
I. What’s the big deal other than explicit content in some that she may or not actually comprehend?
My primary concern is turning her off of an author or work because it is really just so early… Then there is just life experience that creates some of the depth of appreciation for a work… Rapidly approaching are the days when I can no longer confidently say “maybe that should wait, I’d hate for it to be lost on you…” No longer is the art of distracting her with the laden shelves at the Public Library working. I am holding on to her belief that I only want the best for her.
What do you think?
Any great pieces of Lit. you read at a maturish 10 3/4s or younger that you’d recommend? don’t let the fact that she is a girl limit you.
II. I do not recall having someone to help guide me in my reading experiences when I was younger.
My dad is a Reader and he read to me and my sister at bedtime–wilderness adventure type books. Dad was an English Major so we’ve read several of the same Classics, but otherwise our reading tastes rarely converge. [To be reasonable: It isn’t as if my dad had a parent who shared his interest or would help him pursue them. What road map did he have?] I remember my (first half) fourth grade teacher reading Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume, etc. I would read anything that looked like those books at the time. I was left to my own devices in the Library when I was older, both school and public, and I didn’t have a teacher set any books at my elbow. I didn’t have any friends that were avid readers to recommend me anything.
Now I have this daughter and I am exceedingly glad that she loves to Read. But I am also without a road map. I have little experience to draw on. Before you go thinking, “ah, L you turned out alright” [which is debatable], I do grieve a loss of that experience of having someone to share my interests and engage me in conversations about them early on. I didn’t have anyone who would help to develop me as a Writer either; though I do have fond memory of my dad editing a paper for me in 9th grade (for a teacher who was encouraging but didn’t seem to know what to do with me). The aforementioned 4th grade teacher let me write, direct, and star in an environmental drama that year I had her. I wish I’d had another teacher like her.
What it comes down to is my wanting to provide the daughter with every advantage without simultaneously suffocating the interest out of her. I am also repulsed by the idea of trying to relive the opportunities I thought I could have had, even as I wonder at what opportunities might help her become who she envisions herself as–actually, who she is already.
N has been coming home this week with conversations she has been having with one of her 5th grade teachers; they’ve been suggesting books to one another. The other teacher has been reading N’s work-in-progress as it slowly progresses, writing nice notes as they go along. I hope for her that she will always have interested and involved teachers.
Now to figure out what I need to be doing, or not to be doing…which is ever a preoccupation, ever a process.
Did you have a profoundly influential and personally involved person early on? In what way (specifically) were they effective?
And now to figure out how to organize that bookshelf…
*The painting is: The Reader by Jean-Honore Fragonard, c. 1776; oil on canvas.