So I’ve tried to dispel a myth here before: if one is a children’s librarian, it does not necessarily mean that one’s child will be an avid reader. We have struggled with Kiddo since Day One with the reading. It’s not that she’s dyslexic or anything like that; she’s just…apathetic. We have to cajole and convince her to pick up a book.
For awhile, she was all about Mercy Watson and read those books over and over again. Then I received a lovely package of books from Françoise Mouly: Jack and the Box, Stinky, and Mo and Jo: Fighting Together Forever. For a brief and blessed time, we didn’t have to push Kiddo to read – she gladly picked these up for her twenty minutes of nightly reading (as prescribed by her teacher).
But then she tired of all of those, which is natural after having read each about 30 times. This is when I went to the Central Children’s Room of the library, looking for anything she might read. And here’s what happened: I was no longer a librarian. I was a frustrated parent, and I couldn’t think of a single book my kid would read. Luckily, the librarian saw my face – you fellow librarians know the face – and asked if she could help. When I told her my dilemma and whined about how Toon Books couldn’t produce books fast enough, this is what she said:
“Well, have you tried Babymouse?”
The parent in me saw the skies open up and the heard the heavens sing. The librarian in me flicked myself in the forehead for not thinking of it sooner. OF COURSE! And the irony of it is that I actually have a copy of Babymouse: Queen of the World on my personal bookshelves…but it’s a pristine hardcover edition that Jenny and Matt signed at BookFest, and I have it on a high shelf with my other signed books, not exactly accessible to children. I know, I know. Judge me all you’d like.
So imagine my delight when I showed Kiddo the five Babymouse books I checked out for her, and she yelled: “COMICS!!!!” And promptly started reading Queen of the World. Not only did she read for the prescribed 20 minutes...but then she read for 10 minutes more without a single word from us.
The next day I went back to the Central Children’s Room with the sole purpose of giving the librarian a hug. I was going to give her flowers, but I thought that might be over the top.
Since then, Kiddo has read and re-read most of the Babymouse books…but I’ve nailed her pattern, and I sense the interest waning. I’ve brought home Kaput and Zösky, but the sense of humor didn’t quite click with her, not to mention that the font is teeny tiny. Bad Kitty wasn’t comic-y enough. Amelia Rules and Sardine in Outer Space also didn’t pass the test.
I’m thinking of running Garfield and Calvin & Hobbes by her next. In the meantime, she has re-discovered Talented Clementine and thinks that gluing beer bottle caps to the soles of your shoes is about the funniest thing ever.
Anyone have any additional book suggestions?
Well I don't remember much about what I was reading at that age, but I do recall enjoying The Stupids. That might not be PC enough these days though. Some of my favorites were The Giving Tree and Where The Wild Things Are. There is a newer series called Fancy Nancy that seems to be popular, but I haven't actually read any of those. Good luck!
The Lenny and Mel easy chapterbook series is pretty silly and subversive and has drawings on every page. Also there's another funny chapter book series called Ellie McDoodle. The first book is called Ellie McDoodle: Have Pen Will Travel and it's a journal of Ellie's camping trip, with her observations of nature and games she plays with her cousins. Super cute. Good luck with the kiddo! You're doing a great job.
I got a copy of the latest Babymouse book when I met Matt at Portland Kidlit08. Read it on the Coast Starlight train, with many giggles.
I also have gotten a bang out of the Captain Underpants series. You might try her on the TinTin books by Herge when she's a bit older.
Is she in third grade, P & P? You might try "Diary of a Wimpy Kid," a breakthrough book for a third-grade-girl friend of my son's last year.
Definitely dig out the "Calvin & Hobbes" and "Garfield." And "Peanuts"!
If she likes science, try the "Magic School Bus" books.
My son really enjoyed the Babymouse books, too. Also, Phonics Comics are very big at the local elementary school library--kids in all the grades check them out.
My son actually is dyslexic and while the act of reading used to be frustrating, he loves stories. Captain Underpants was beloved (though his companion series, Ricky Ricotta, were deemed "dumb"). Bone is another graphic novel series for the younger set he liked, though it might appeal to a 4th or 5th grader -- not sure. Love That Dog was a good story with few words per page that saw a lot of re-reading. But a great way to get a taste for the more complex stories is to use audiobooks. The reading performances matter a lot. He must have listened to Cricket in Times Square, read by Renee d'Auber.... something a million times. And Tom Sawyer and Hoot and a bunch of others. It seemed like after listening to enough books, the patience to slog through independently developed.
Lenore Look's Ruby Lu books are wonderful (and in the vein of Clementine). Any chance she'd go for really, really old stuff like Ramona? Or Judy Blume's younger books?
I apologize for being late in relaying my THANK YOU for all your lovely suggestions and words of support! I appreciate it!
I know, Monica, I totally thought she'd be into Ramona - I bought the whole series. But it hasn't meshed yet. The length of them seems to be putting her off - they're thicker than the graphics and Clementines. I anticipate she'll get into Ramona by the end of this year. I think she might really get into Ruby Lu - I'm trying those next.
Susan, she's in 2nd grade...but I might try Diary of a Wimpy Kid anyway. Kiddo hasn't shown any interest in Judy Moody but enjoys McDonald's Stink series. She also got into the Captain Underpants for a little bit; she begged me to buy one for her at the bookstore, but she hasn't paid much attention to it since then. Again, I anticipate she'll pick that up again at some point this school year and think it's the funniest thing ever.
I totally forgot about Ellie McDoodle, Andrea! Such a cute series! And the Lenny and Mel series isn't sounding familiar to me at all so I'll check that out, both as a parent and as a collection development librarian!
Again, you guys are fantastic! Thanks so much for your help!!!!
If she likes Babymouse, she might like one of my favorites - Fashion Kitty by Cherise Mericle Harper. I was charmed instantly when I picked it up.
Magic Trixie, by Jill Thompson. Also Ivy and Bean has been super popular with my 2nd and 3rd graders.
ooo. and Just Grace.
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