October 30, 2007
“When do you find time to read?” I hear the question all the time from moms and dads, but rarely from kids. Kids who like to read seem to be good at finding time to read even when they’re staring down several hours of homework and sports practice in the evenings after school. It seems to help them relax or take a break when they’re dealing with other challenging mental issues.
In some ways I think of reading as “massage for the mind,” which means a way to completely and totally relax and rejuvenate my mind so I can go back to handling the million little details that crowd my day. When I’m reading I’m not thinking about anything but the words in front of me, and that total concentration helps me to tackle the other issues with more energy when I get back to work.
So when do I read? In the morning with my daughter before she catches the school bus. In the afternoon with my older daughter when she gets home from school. At lunch, while I munch on a sandwich. During my daughter’s piano lesson. While I’m in the car waiting to pick one of my daughters up from an after school activity. Before bed. Since I read a little bit at different times of the day, I also find myself thinking about characters from a fiction book or real issues from a nonfiction book as I go through other mundane tasks like doing the laundry or vacuuming the carpet. And that helps me process what I’m reading better.
I can’t imagine having a day with nothing to read. For me, it would be harder, not easier, to get everything done without knowing there’s a book waiting nearby.
October 25, 2007
When my oldest daughter, Madeleine, was in fifth grade, we read Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli in our mother-daughter book club. The girls all liked it, but they couldn’t really identify well with the issues brought up in the book: What does it mean to be popular in school, can you find friends who accept you for who you are even when you’re different from the mainstream, are you strong enough to go against the popular mindset by befriending someone who is different?
The moms on the other hand, got the issues exactly. We remembered all too well the days of junior high and high school when you’re not only trying to determine who you are, but also realizing that who you choose to hang out with is a reflection of that. We thought the book was excellently done, and that we had maybe read it when our girls were too young.
I’ve been thinking about that lately because my youngest daughter, Catherine, is reading Stargirl now. She’s in eighth grade, and she’s really enjoying it. The things she’s reading about are resonating with her, because she’s seen similar situations happen with kids in middle school.
Amazon.com recommends this book for ages 10 – 14, but I’m more inclined to agree with the age recommendation by Publisher’s Weekly, which is 12 and up. It’s perfect for a mother-daughter book group because the adults will appreciate Spinelli’s excellent writing as well as identify what he’s writing about, and girls in middle school and older will be able to make correlations between situations in the book and things they deal with in their own social and school lives.
I’m looking forward to discussing Stargirl with Catherine when she’s done reading it, and we’re both looking forward to reading the sequel, Love, Stargirl.
October 16, 2007
A reader from Milwaukee, Wisconsin recently sent in a few ideas for games to play during a meeting. Here’s what she had to say:
“In addition to the discussion, some of our meetings ‘pit’ mothers against daughters in games quizzing us on the book—we’ve played Jeopardy, Deal or No Deal and others. It provides a little change to the agenda. We have a short game and then discuss the book.”
What great ideas to get lively discussions going. Sometimes the books my club members have liked the most have generated the least discussion, because we couldn’t think of anything to say beyond, “I really liked everything about this book.” Situations like this would really benefit from a game that brought out different aspects of the book that the group could then talk about.
Here are a few book recommendations from the group in Milwaukee for 7th – 8th graders:
Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pies by Jordan Sonnenblick
Chinese Cinderella: The True Story of an Unwanted Daughter by Adeline Yen Mah
Pobby and Dingan by Ben Rice (short but impactful)