My 9-year-old is reading in her room before bed. Every now and then I hear her laugh at a funny line. Sometimes she calls out to ask if she can read us something. It’s late and she should be asleep by now, but we say yes.
“Listen!” She reads us the passage. “Isn’t that wonderful?”
My husband and I agree. It is wonderful. I can’t help feeling a little sad, too.
Not that long ago, we’d read to her nightly before she went to sleep. We did so even as she began reading on her own. As a result, we were often confused by what was going on in her books, because we’d miss chapters as she sped ahead. No matter. Bedtime was for reading aloud as a family, and we treasured it.
After almost ten years of reading together, she’s ready to step away from that entirely. It’s tough for my husband and me to give up the tradition, even as we delight in the to-be-read pile growing next to her bed. (And next to the pile of laundry that belongs in the hamper. Ahem.)
But we still talk to her about books. She’s aware that reading isn’t everyone’s favorite thing, and that some find it harder to get into a story than she does. It was frustrating for her once too, though she doesn’t remember that now. These days, she keeps a blog of her reading, and is beginning to talk to others about what she loves to read. She’s outgrown our old rituals because she’s falling in love with books on her own. I admit, this makes me happiest of all.
To mark the shift away from one bedtime reading tradition and towards another, she let me interview her about her reading and how she came to be a reader:
What are the pros and cons of reading on your own?
I like reading on my own at night because I can usually read faster than someone reading out loud. So I get more reading time in. but the downside is that if it’s 9 pm, I usually get a little tired and fall asleep while reading and then wake up because I want to keep reading. I liked it when you read to me because I could relax and I didn’t have to hold the book and get my hands all tired. Even before I knew how to read.
What’s the first book you remember loving to bits?
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit. And Narnia by C.S. Lewis a while later. Because they were awesome. And Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. That was long, but fun to hear aloud the first time. Then I went back and read it again.
What was the first book you read by yourself?
Probably a picture book. OH! And Ivy & Bean — my first chapter book. I read it while lying down in the front hall as soon as the mailman delivered it in a package from Oma.
What’s your favorite type of book to read right now? Why?
I like fiction — actually fantasy. But no princesses. Just magic. I don’t like princesses because most of them are like “aaaa I can’t save myself aaaah!” I like magic because you can do a lot of stuff with it, like turning your eyebrows yellow or making a potion.
What would you tell someone starting out reading?
For someone starting out, picture books, comics, and graphic books are great, but switch to chapter books as soon as you can because they can usually fit more story into chapter books, while picture books are shorter and simpler.
How do you feel about House Rule #1 — that you have to read the book before you can see the movie?
Good. Because if you see the movie and it’s horrible, you might think the book is horrible, and you’d never get the chance to read a really good book.
How did you feel about that rule when you were younger?
Do you have favorite characters?
Yes. Hermoine from Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling, Annabeth from Percy Jackson by Rick Riordian, and September from The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente.
Why do you keep a book blog?
Because it’s fun. I like thinking of words to describe the books I’ve read – my favorite recent ones are: splendiferous, spectacular, and over-the-moon-amazing. I started writing book blog posts every week, but now I have a lot of homework, so I do it when we have breaks from school. I still read all the time though. And I’m making a list of fifteen books other kids might like to read for the summer.
I. Wilde blogs about books at readlikeakid.wordpress.com