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“Comics are books,” and other lessons from kids on reading.

Reading doesn’t always go the way I pictured. Well, it does have a lot of pictures, but that’s not exactly how I imagined reading.   “Reading,” according to me,  means curling up with a good book and becoming immersed in its words.  My kids would beg to differ.  Problem is we don’t always agree on what actually is a book.

Things were so much simpler when I was kid and  hiked 10 miles up the hill to school.  At the very least, a book was a book and reading was reading. Sigh…  Well, it has taken me twelve years, but I think I’m ready to acknowledge my kids have a point. It’s time for me to broaden my horizons and acknowledge that “books” are not just books, and that “reading” is more than just reading.

Here are lessons I’ve learned from my kids about books and reading:

1- GRAPHIC NOVELS ARE BOOKS. They look like comics, but apparently are not.  Respected authors like Neil Gaiman churn them out, and even Classics like Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 have been released in graphic novel form.  I confess, I don’t get it, but I’m sure if these had been around when I was a kid I would have devoured them.  According to scholastic.com not only do graphic novels motivate reluctant readers, some of them actually contain more advanced vocabulary than traditional novels.

2- LISTENING COUNTS AS READING. Remember the days when you would listen entranced to stories on the Disney record player? No longer just for young children, kids of all ages listen to entire novels on IPODs any time and anywhere.  My daughter sat for hours listening to the Hunger Games until her eyes (and ears) were blood shot.  That didn’t LOOK like reading to me, but I have to acknowledge it was. Some of the story tellers are professional actors, and do an amazing job of bringing the characters and story to life.  Interestingly, my daughter ended up reading the book after listening.  Again, it’s not for me, but then again I’m old. Sites like audible.com open up a whole world of downloadable books.

3- E- READERS ARE BOOKS. Even I’m coming around, but I miss being able to dog-ear the pages.  Yes, I am guilty of that crime.

4- CRAPPY BOOKS ARE BOOKS. When my kids are given free reign of the library, sometimes I can barely restrain myself from screaming, “Put those back!  They’re garbage They will skew your view of literature forever!” Lately, I’ve taken to staying in the car while my two older ones hop inside with their library cards.   I’ve come to realize I need to chill. Kids should be free to choose their own books, no matter how crappy.  In time, I’m sure their tastes will develop and meanwhile I will keep reading quality selections to them before bed.  The point is, they are excited and experimenting with books. That’s STILL READING! (Capitals added as a note to myself.)

5- COMICS ARE BOOKS.  Nope, not sold. Many parents and educators feel differently, but someone needs to sell me on this.

What I have learned is that reading can take many shapes and forms, but at the end of the day it’s all reading.  If it gets the kids excited and engaged, it’s all good.

Have your kids changed your perceptions of books and reading?




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