Mightier Than The Pen

Making The World A Bitter Place

Beverly Cleary Just Won’t Do

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Get your kids to read. I say this not simply as a parent who seeks the best for his offspring; we all know how wonderful I am in that regard despite the little twerps’ constant efforts to sabotage my endeavors. No, I issue this recommendation as a matter of more immediate utilitarian import: once they gain a modicum of literacy, they take care of themselves for large chunks of time.

Our oldest, now nine and a half, struggled his way through a dozen or so books over the summer, at first complaining at every turn how difficult he found it. But as he stuck with it, the complaints about difficulty gave way to critiques of content (Ramona Quimby, Age 8 apparently is too dull for his tastes; he prefers the Magic Tree House series and its ilk. While this jibes with his age and sex, I do hope one day he discovers the pleasures of literature outside the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings genres).

But the last few days have seen an even more beneficial development: he’s taken over bedtime storytelling. That’s why I can sit here vegetating in front of my blog right now. I can clean up from dinner. I can do some laundry. But of course every minute or two I get the urge to listen in. When I do succumb, I hear a kid whose confidence went from near zero just a couple of months ago to through the roof – he just sits down with his little brother and sister and goes through several books with them, no prodding, no pleading, no cajoling. Last night’s offerings included Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and two Knuffle Bunny books, all by the inimitable Mo Willems; tonight the little ones got Wolfie, a relatively obscure book about a boy and his pet spider, along with Green Eggs and Ham, by God Himself.

The only downside of this trend is the boy’s tendency, following his father, to get sucked into a book to the exclusion of all else, and to peruse it until the cows come home (that’s liable to be a very long time, as we have no cows). But even at that price, I’ll take it. His brother, not quite six, expressed his intense frustration yesterday that he’s not learning how to read at school yet, just letters and sounds (oddly – as if any other adjective serves in the context of this boy’s quirks – he has taken to blurting out “ABC!” to denote frustration, defiance and other challenging emotions). With the older one leading the way, this TV-less household can look forward to many years of brain-intensive entertainment.

And with that, I’m off to YouTube to check out old commercials from the 1980s.


Written by Thag

September 7, 2010 at 8:39 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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