Talking Books

Yesterday, my family and I went to a book-themed birthday party. On the ride there, my husband, Anthony, asked our eight-year-old, Li’l D, about his favorite book character.

Li’l D first named Clay, a dragon from the Wings of Fire series. We spent a few minutes talking about Clay before moving on to favorite human characters.

At first, Li’l D couldn’t think of any human characters. Anthony and I offered up four names for D’s consideration: Greg, Rafe, Miles, and Niles. Rafe (Middle School: The Worst Years of my Life) got the gold medal for being so funny; Miles (The Terrible Two) got silver, because he’s so good at improvising pranks.

After a good ten or fifteen minutes talking about Li’l D’s favorites, I asked if he had any questions for us. He said, naw, I don’t want to hear about scary books! I pointed out that I read a lot of not-horror books; my favorite author, Neil Postman, wrote cultural critiques.

I could practically hear Li’l D roll his eyes as he said, “Postman, Postman, Postman.”

(See, even he knew it’s not all horror for me—though, to be fair, some of Postman’s critiques exposed horrifying possibilities!)

After a pause, Li’l D asked us about the scariest books we’ve ever read. Anthony and I agreed on The House of Leaves. We spent another ten minutes or so trying to explain its creepiness, with Li’l D completely unpersuaded. He couldn’t believe I’d slept with lights on and all inside doors open for weeks after I’d read it alone in rural Japan. Anthony, for his part, couldn’t believe I’d dared read it in such circumstances.

The conversation tapered off after about thirty minutes, but the minutes it lasted were delightful! For all we all love reading, yesterday highlighted how little we talk together about what we’re reading.

Now, we’re going to consciously set aside time for such talks. I’m already looking forward to our next one.

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Where the Kids Books Are

I’ve been studying Spanish for a few months. I’d focused exclusively on speaking until about a month ago, when I noticed myself struggling to remember certain words because I couldn’t visualize them. At times, I wasn’t even sure I was hearing words right.

I picked up an easy Spanish reader. I worked through the first twenty or so short reads there before getting bored with its content. To mix things up, I picked up some kids books in Spanish.

The first chapter book I picked up was then too difficult for me; I had to look up its every third word. Every fifth or sixth word is fine, but every third, maddening! This led me to seek out easier reads.

I found the enchanting Isadora Moon in Spanish: “Su mamá es un hada, su papá es un vampiro y ella tiene un poquito de los dos.” I’ve read the first three books of the series and have preordered the fifth and sixth (out end of month, woo-hoo!).

I’ve read a National Geographic book on what different animal parents teach their babies. I also read Stink, el increíble Niño Menguante, another perfect read for my current reading level. I got the gist without having to look up words, but looked up some to expand my Spanish vocabulary.

When I look up a word while reading these books, I write the translation under the word in the book. I then go through and transfer those words to a notebook before making flash cards of them. Thus grows my Spanish vocabulary, and my prospect for eventually reading more complicated books!

Yesterday, I stopped by a new-to-me bookstore to check out its selection of kids books in Spanish. I found The Tales of Beedle Bard, which I set back on the shelf. There was no way I’d be able to read it! Still, with nothing else jumping out at me, I grabbed it for later reading. Continue reading “Where the Kids Books Are”