Monday, February 27, 2012

You must...

...enjoy the books you read aloud to your children. I believe this with all my heart.

I've had several people argue this point with me. You should read aloud whatever your children want you to read aloud, they say. You should let them go to the library and pick whatever they want off the shelf. Then you should read it to them.

I respectfully disagree, at least in practice, though I do applaud parents who are willing to read anything out loud, especially if they are really doing it.

I cannot. I will never read any Disney addition of anything out loud. I would rather eat overcooked beets (and I don't even like undercooked beets). I won't read books based on a character from a TV series. And I won't read comic books or graphic novels out loud. I do let my kids pick out what they want at the library (with some very few exceptions), but I won't read them out loud unless I want to read them.

That said, I read aloud to my kids every day, my youngest ones for about an hour. I pick the books; they have Veto power. If they want to read a book, they may present it to me, perhaps with sincere explanations for why they want it read, but I have Veto power. They know I won't read certain things. It is a fact. A give in. An absolute. I explain to them why. I tell them I don't think the writing is very good in those books, and the stories really aren't that interesting; then I try to point out to them what makes a good book, for me. My criteria doesn't have to be the same as theirs, but I hope they see that I make careful choices in what I read (I did, for example, throw away all my Twilight books one day with one big heavy thump into the garbage can). I don't just grab up any book in front of me that is colorful and popular.

We do the same with movies. We don't watch TV or movies in our home except on Friday nights, family movie night. This past Friday, the kids wanted to watch Tangled AGAIN. Sam, sweet man, was going to let them, and I was upstairs trying to write, and I was going to let them too, but then the part of me that is CRAZY and way too intense about things (the rather large part of me) revolted. I came downstairs and amidst cries of dismay and anger, I explained that we would not be watching Tangled AGAIN, because the movie wasn't meaning anything to them anymore. They weren't growing from watching it again. They weren't hearing a new and interesting story, they weren't learning anything. Their brains were being soothed into a state of semi-sleep, and I wanted them awake.

This is the moment when my brother swears my children are going to do nothing but watch TV and play video games as soon as they turn eighteen, but, BUT, we sort of chose a movie together, (okay, I really chose it), and they watched Heidi. Yes, Heidi, about the girl who had to go live in the mountains with her grandfather.

And they loved it. Really. They really, truly loved it.

What is the point of these rambles? I'm not sure, but I'm going to share a few read-aloud books I love that I read to Flannery today. I do accents with these books (you should hear the way I say, "black-strap molasses." It is truly awe-inspiring). We point out cool things in the pictures. I make monster voices. We laugh about swamp haunts and Paper-Eating Yalappapus's and Swamp Devils and Stamp-Collecting Trollusks after pretending to be scared.

They are all by Mercer Meyer, a master picture book writer and illustrator, famous for his Little Critter series, which is the least of his accomplishments. My favorite series of his growing up and now is the Little Monster series which includes, Professor Wormbog in Search of the Zipperump-a-Zoo and One Monster After Another:

Product DetailsProduct DetailsProduct DetailsProduct Details

Most of these books are sadly out of print, but you can find them used, and I hope they're in your libraries!

I especially love two stand-alone Mercer Meyer books to read aloud: Liza Lou and the Yeller Belly Swamp, and What do you do with a Kangaroo?

Product DetailsProduct Details

These tough girls battle all sorts of creatures, tricking them every time, though always with a twist.

One last thought: If you haven't tried The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, please do. Please! I'm rereading it right now, and oh, how I love it. Romantic. Funny. Sparkling with personality. One day, I will write a book this good. One day.

Product Details

No comments:

Post a Comment