Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Books in the wild

One of the happy problems we have in the house is that we don't have enough shelf space. Even though we trade books with friends, we go to the library and second hand book stores, we still have enough books to run a library out of our house. With 3 kids of different age or interest, there are a lot of different kinds of books in the house. There are books everywhere. Our dining table could be piled high with books and JED would add on more.

Like I say, it's a happy problem to have.

I love that all 3 read. It's the advantage of having a no TV, no gadget rule in the house. There's not much else to do especially at meal times. The grandparents have complained that it's disrespectful to read at the dinner table. So I tell JED that they can read when they are eating alone but when the family sits down for dinner, there are to be no books.

So, anyway, books, all around.

Friends have asked for ideas on what to get their kids to read and frankly I don't know. I look at required book lists (sometimes the books on these lists need to be re-looked at!), browse through curated lists of bloggers and read reviews of books to get a feel of what's out there but it doesn't always work. A best-seller might be a best seller with many kids but not necessarily JED.

I asked them to pick a bunch of their favourite books right now, books that they might want their friends to read as well and this is what they came up with.

We start with the littlest. Perhaps in the last 6 months or so has Muffin taken to reading on his own and reading chapter books. Part of it is him seeing his siblings do it. He still likes pictures in his books but he's less intimidated by the word-picture ratio skewing greatly toward the words rather than pictures. He likes humour, toilet humour, silly humour, laugh out loud ha-ha humour. His favourites right now are junior chapter series like Eerie Elementary (which he has independently drawn parallels to Harry Potter), the Yeti Files (where he learnt the word Cryptid; a creature that has been hidden and there's no proof of its existence) and ha-ha funny Kung-Pow Chicken complete with all its puns. When he reads, the world disappears and he won't know if you're yelling for him because there's a fire.

It's still hard for him to read. He would still rather play with his Lego but more and more so, when the house is quiet and we seek him out, he's hiding somewhere reading.

Evan's an action reader. He likes action in his books. Something has to be happening. His perennial favourites are still the Potter books which I have no issue with but his repertoire has definitely expanded since last year. There's still the silly Wimpy Kid books that he likes but he has also taken to Anthony Horowitz's Alex Rider. I had a lot to do with that because I liked them too and I would read them and tell him excitedly what was going to happen in the book I was reading. And he would read to find out. That's been fun for us; conversations about Alex Rider. He's also dabbled with Famous Five and the adventures series for the same reasons. Strangely though, he's not so keen to read the Morpurgo books because his writing is based during the wars and he doesn't like suffering. When I asked why he chose these books to feature, he said that a lot of the other books he reads, his sister or brother would also choose. So these were the ones that were quintessentially him.

And then there's Jordan; the one who doesn't do toys anymore and lamented the fact that she didn't get enough books for Christmas and too many clothes.

Her reading repertoire is anything she gets her hands on. She loves her graphic novels and reads and re-reads them. She loves her Land of Stories fantasy genre books and the Morpugo books I got for Evan, she read them. I asked if she felt sad for the characters and her reply was that sometimes but they always learnt to live on (life lesson there). The book that recently got to her was Wonder about a kid her age having to go to school but having severe crano-facial deformities and how he struggled in school. 3/4 way through it, I found her reading Beezus and Ramona and she said she needed a break  to read something not so sad. She's since finished Wonder and has gone to immerse herself in some fantasy because I think the real world got too real for her. A friend of ours gave us Graveyard Book for the twins as a birth present. Literally, at birth. Coraline and Graveyard Book were their keepsakes and she recently finished Graveyard Book. We listened to it in the car too and I just want to say, Neil Gaiman's voice is a nice voice. The book though, is heartbreakingly sad but it did occur to me that all these things are sad because I'm an adult and I see it through the eyes of a mom or with the understanding of the suffering or pain. For them, for most part, it's just a story.

Tangentially, we're teaching the twins to take public transport. When the time comes for us to allow them onto public transport on their own, Packrat has decreed that Jordan shall not be allowed to bring a book. Because if she does, she might accidentally find herself in Pasir Ris because for her, the world does melt and disappear when she reads.

So there, the books that are currently inundating my house and surfacing in strange places like under my pillow and in my bathroom. I suspect I enable a lot of this too because I'm constantly adding books into my Amazon cart and similar to them being in the library, new books magically appear on the shelves.

I am, afterall, the Book Santa and the acquirer of books from the library.


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