Sunday, May 29, 2011

How to Torture a Kid with Books

Looking through my bookcase trying to find Meme’s next reading assignment, I saw our Jane Austin books and was reminded of something that happened a couple of years ago.

When Jojo first started reading at 11 because of her dyslexia, I assigned her one to two books a week.  In either an article on why one should not delay reading or an advertisement for some reading program, the author made the point that if your child starts reading at 6 or 7, by the time he is 11 or 12 he will have read X number of pages in his life so far (X being a very large number). If you do not buy that reading program or start training him to read by age 5, the author continued, your child will be woefully behind and never catch up.

BS! I said. I agreed that quantity is as important as quality when it comes to reading. My favorite saying is that you only get better at doing something by doing it. That goes for reading as well. By age 11, Jojo had a good deal of lost time to make up for, so I just threw book after book at her, especially my favorite adventure novels.

She started complaining about the content. Too much action drama, she said in an attempt to sway me into letting her choose her own books. “My favorite characters are killed off in horrific ways.”  “I’m having bad dreams.”  She requested a book that was not in high adventure (to be honest we have had a pretty adventurous life). “And I don’t want people dying in it,” she finished.

Okay. So I thought about it and assigned her Jane Austin's Emma. Not high in adventure. No huge risk of death.

Her take on the novel: After 446 pages of people standing around talking and bitching about each other, maybe a little adventure in books isn't all bad. *evil grin*


  1. I highly recommend Orson Scott Card's "Ender's Game" and the follow up "Speaker for the Dead". I read them as a teenager and they stuck with me as two of the best (fiction) books I've ever read. I read them more recently and they are still just as good. They also got some major awards.

  2. I love Card's Enders series. Ironically enough, I think that was the series she read right before I had her read Emma. I think the destruction of an entire race bummed her out. She's pretty much gone through all our sci-fi books, except Asimov (it's a bit dry). We're having her read historical fiction now - Sharara's book on the American revolution. About once an hour for the last week, she's come tracked me down to say something like, "Did you realize that (Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, etc) did X?" To which I have to reply, "Yes, and that's why you're now having to read about it!"

  3. I agree, Asimov is dry. I tried my best to get through the Foundation series and gave up after two books. Tried to start the robot series and shortly decided it just wasn't worth my time.

  4. LOL! I was about 19 when I discovered Asimov and I read every book I could find, Foundation & Robot alike. I don't know if I had the patience to do that now.

  5. Part of my issue of trying to read Asimov is that I'm used to the wackier and more complex stories of Card and Robert Heinlein. And then I'm already familiar with all the basic elements of science-fiction, and even in fiction, if I'm not learning something new, I get bored.

    I'm reading "Altered Carbon" by Richard K. Morgan right now. Or at least, I'm half-way through. I'm breaking from that to get to "The Disorder of Things", which is non-fiction. I need to read that first b/c it's an inter-library loan, but good non-fiction (i.e. that has solid information and written for intelligent people) holds my interest much more these days than even award winning science-fiction does.

    Though "Altered Carbon" was suggested by my brother, who also recommended Asimov and Terry Pratchett, who I just couldn't get into either. Vendika has had better suggestions for me, like "The Confederacy of Dunces". If you want something really short but completely off-the-wall get her to lend you "Chronicle" if she still has it. (You won't find it on-line.)