Tonight the Big Cheese and I started reading Superfudge by Judy Blume. I’ve tried to read some of the “Fudge” books to him before, but he wasn’t all that interested. But tonight as I made the voices of Fudge and Peter just to his liking, he “got it.” I’d read a funny paragraph and he was laughing out loud and say, “Read that again.” It was clear: He had fallen in love with his first piece of classic literature.
Yes, in my house, my world, Judy Blume is classic literature. (Okay, classic children’s literature, but a classic nonetheless.)
Even though I’m not that old (because I’m NOT) and Judy Blume was in the midst of all her author glory during my childhood, I still did not grow up thinking that reading was cool. Sure, there was reading going on and books that were my favorites, but you know…it was just…reading. Something I had to do. I found a few that I enjoyed (usually involving talking animals) but I wasn’t picking up the book because I wanted to. I read simply because it was required and nothing more. And it stayed that way for a long time.
Then one day in 1999, while teaching 5th grade, I had a kid that would not put down the book that he was reading. All day long I had to ask him over and over and over again to put his book down.
“What are you reading anyway,” I finally asked him.
“It’s called Harry Potter,” he told me.
Before long, all of the kids in my class were reading the infamous first book in the series and so was I. I couldn’t teach math or social studies because my students wouldn’t put their books down. And honestly, I didn’t want to either! It was out of control, I tell ya! Books were everywhere! It was mass reading chaos!
And in that was the moment my world shifted ever so slightly and reading became very, very cool.
Of course, being an elementary school teacher requires that you read a lot of children’s fiction. I feel in love with books that had been on the library shelves when I was in school but I never touched. I read Holes aloud to my class every year and fell in love with it right along with my students. I used phrases like, “Books are awesome!” and “Never stop reading!” and the students responded by thinking and doing just that.
But I haven’t taught in over 10 years (okay, maybe I am getting old) and I have enjoyed Brown Bear, Brown Bear and Frog and Toad probably a little more than any parent should. But I’ve been patiently waiting. Waiting for my boys to be old enough to discover in childhood what it took me 25 years and 2 college degrees to discover: There are some really awesome books out there!
So the other day, I snuck the credit card out of the Golfer’s wallet and went crazy on Amazon. (“It’s for the kids honey! For the kids!”) Here’s a little of what we’ll be reading at our house this school year:
- The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden
- How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
- Tale of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
- Frindle by Andrew Clements
- No Talking by Andrew Clements
- Love That Dog by Sharon Creech
- Picklemania by Jerry Spinelli
- Hatchet by Gary Paulsen