Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Quote of the Week--#012

"I believe that any book, however trashy and ephemeral, is good for a child if he finds pleasure in reading it. Any book that helps him to form a habit of reading, that helps to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him."

Richard McKenna
Quoted in
Quotations on Education
Compiled by Rosalie Maggio
Librarians argue this from all sides. Parents constantly come to me to worry over what their children are reading. Is reading Bone by Jeff Smith--now up to eight books, all in graphic format--a waste of time or a good way to lure reluctant readers into reading for fun? How long should a young reader be immersed in a favorite series?
When one of my daughters was in third or fourth grade she was so enamoured with The Babysitters Club series that she strongly hinted that she would like to change her name to Stacy, her favorite club member. I was less thrilled with the books, viewing them as brain candy, at best. My mother, a veteran children's librarian, read one and commented on how it was a nice story of girls and their relationships. It also offered familiar characters who were easy to follow from one adventure to the next. I relaxed in worrying about my daughter, while fuming over how my mother had tried her best to stop me from reading one Nancy Drew book after another when I was in grade school. Then one glorious day my daughter came to me, saying, "I just realized that these books are mostly the same story with just changes in names and places." With that realization, she moved on to read other things. Now in her mid-twenties, she is an avid reader who reads both for pleasure and for information. In retrospect, I know that she needed that time to read what I saw as fluff.
Parents, be aware of what your children are reading, but don't worry excessively about it. They will find that book or series of books that starts them on their road to reading. Until then, reading anything is better than not reading. Let them watch you enjoy reading and nine times out of ten they will find reading that they enjoy, too.

1 comment:

Jaya said...

There are plenty of "grown-up" books with the same plot over and over again too--the Brother Cadfael mysteries, for example, or anything by Dan Brown. That said, I like something less than erudite now and then, and I don't see why it should be any different for the under-15 set. I don't remember reading detective stories as a kid, but perhaps the older ones would like Dorothy Sayers or Agatha Christie, or of course Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. And plotting mystery stories is always a good thought exercise.