By VCFA grad and classmate Carol Allen
Since July 2009, I’ve cheered for my fellow Vermont College classmates and reveled, vicariously, in their many successful writing and publishing and award winning endeavors…. and wrung my hands guiltily because I’ve written precious little; too little, in fact, to even mention.
This summer I realized another reason to cheer for my classmates, and every other writer of books for youth: I was on vacation with my grandchildren, ages 10 and 13, and they are readers. They came to me armed with favorite books, then raided my shelves to find others. When Gran was too tired to go one more step, no problem. They pulled out their books, and they read. Alex, age 13, was reading The Eighty-Dollar Champion by Elizabeth Letts. Dani, age 10, was reading whatever she picked up. She proudly told me she was almost finished with one of the Harry Potter books, which she left at home.
Huh? I’ve yet to read one!
The girls are what I call good readers. They are critical readers. “Hey Gran,” Dani would call. “Listen to this. Isn’t that funny?” And she would read from whatever she had in her hands. Even more fun was when she struck a pose as a librarian or teacher, read a page from a picture book, then turned the book and waved it from right to left so Alex and I could see the illustrations. Woe to us if we didn’t give her our full attention!
And then from Alex: “Hey Gran, what do you think about this?” And she read a paragraph from her book.
“What do you think about that?” I answered.
Her forehead creased in concentration and she thought a minute. “It’s like there’s way too much stuff here. The author is telling me too much.”
Hmmmm. Where have I heard that before?
I loved hearing Alex tell me what she thought about Holes, by Louis Sachar. She declared A Swift Pure Cry by Siobhan Dowd as her favorite book ever, and even pronounced the author’s name correctly!
While Dani was reading picture books on vacation, and left Harry Potter behind, she declared that ever since the Baby Mouse books, “I’m into graphic novels.” Sigh.
The conversations I’ve had with these two granddaughters about the books they read have made me grateful to the parents and teachers who are raising readers. If you haven’t recently experienced the fun of talking to young people about the books they are reading, I suggest you try it. You’re in for a treat.