Monday, April 7, 2014

Wylie recommended books...

An interesting writing prompt from a blog "The Literary Mama"
Write a review of one book you’ve read based on your child’s recommendation or urging. Why does he/she like it? Why were you hesitant to read it? Did your initial impression about it change? Why did he/she really want you to read it?

I've read many a book I wouldn't normally pick up and read or pick up and read to Wylie because he has gravitated toward it. This includes but is not limited to books on hero dogs, star wars characters, pirate school, and dinosaurs at school. There are books he wants to read or wants me to read to him that I would rather chuck in the trash mostly because the story is sappy and icky and rather poorly written. There are also the books he picks that end up being favorites that we sit and read together for over an hour at a time.

I now have less control over the books he picks from the library as his school has a very well stocked library and has two librarians to help the students pick out books. What I really LOVE about this is that the librarians DO NOT BELIEVE in making children pick books at their reading level! This means Wylie is bringing home chapter books he loves, and is bringing home books that he will struggle to read certain words in but still loves the story. What is tough about this policy is that sometimes he brings books home that I would rather not read to him and secretly hope he forgets about quickly.

Wylie Reading Update

We are nearing the end of first grade and Wylie is reading off the charts. He is a very studious reader and a very eclectic reader as well. Each week his class visits the library at school and can bring home up to four books at a time. Wylie brings home everything from Magic Tree House books (covering Titanic, Rome, Greece, San Francisco, and Egypt) to National Geographic books (Tigers are the main interest) and Sports related books.
He is also reading among his books at home:
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Geronimo Stilton
Book One in the Series of Unfortunate Events
Donald Duck Original Comics which are stories told in comic/graphic novel version.

His reading level based on school assessment is around 5th or 6th grade. His comprehension of non-fiction topics is around 6th to 7th grade. This means he is reading non-fiction science, astronomy, history, geography, and similar subject areas and understanding them. He is asking questions that involve making connections and considerations of the topic. He then if needed puts the knowledge into practice.

All of this is great except I miss him asking to be read to at night. He now likes to read on his own.

Neil Gaiman

I read Neil Gaiman's "The Ocean at the End of the Lane" this weekend. It took me a bit to get into it, but then I just hit my stride and read the whole thing.
Initially I picked it up because of the author alone and my enjoyment of "American Gods," but this one straddles the fantasy and reality line so thinly that I really enjoyed it.
Here is my take on it:
1. If you have the time to block out the rest of the world and just read this book cover to cover in one sitting/breath DO IT.
2. It will absorb you in almost every manner of thought.
3. We ALL had a childhood of good, bad, or indifferent that involved grownups and life changing events. This is a view of that childhood from a child's point of view.
4. It is a child's point of view and memory of events, remember that as you read it as an adult. This is not simple adult version of a child's point of view. IT IS the child's point of view.

I really loved this book.
There are passages in which a young girl is leading the story and reaching out to lead you with her hand. She is not narrator but her voice is equally as strong in the story. The narrator is a middle-age man who has shed his age and returned us to his childhood. In particular just a few days of his childhood. He gives a background leading up to the events in the story yet seamlessly moves us from background to events to present day in the book.

There are parts of the book that are not just words but full images and memories of our own. Most of us had a point in childhood where our imaginations took us far into a fantasy world where we could be powerful and magical and our size and age did not matter. Neil Gaiman takes us into the world with his narrator. Instead of completely dissolving into the fantasy, he keeps reality and "this world" in tandem and along side the fantasy.
We can all say "it's just a fence covered with crows," but what we see is a crotchety being covered with carrion birds waiting to take our soul to another place. We see and know the "reality" but feel and experience the magical.

Fantastic book.