A couple of months ago, I left the following comment after reading Jen Robinson’s review The Pigman by Paul Zindel.
This is SO timely for me, Jen, because as I’ve written a lot lately, Amanda (10 — 5th grade) is really crossing that threshold and reading a lot of YA stuff now — Hunger Games, Uglies, etc. I have my reservations, but I want her to continue to love reading.
The reason this was such a good reminder for me is that I read that novel, and others like it, and it didn’t make me want to go into strange men’s homes and drink while underage. It just opened the door to understanding more about people and their circumstances and the world around me.
I was taken back to my middle school years by Jen Robinson’s review of The Pigman by Paul Zindel. I don’t even think I was shocked or titillated by that book when I read it in middle school. I might have been, but I don’t remember having that reaction (Judy Blumes Forever, which I encountered way too young as we passed it around in about 6th grade, is a different story).
The issue at hand right in my home right now is Twilight. “Everyone” in the fifth grade is reading it (except of course several of her closest friends who I directly asked about).
Being educated (and continuing to explore kids’ lit on my own) is my offensive and defensive strategy of monitoring Amanda’s reading. Because I had read lots of reviews on Twilight (including Lisa’s as linked here), I took an offensive position — bringing it up before it came home in her backpack. However, I can also play defense by suggesting alternatives*.
Twilight aside, I am letting go. I used to tell her that she shouldn’t even read books that feature protagonists who are over about thirteen years old/junior high age. But now she’s reading some books that are outside that range.
For example, we just both read Wings (linked to my review) together, but separately. There’s probably some content in there that I would have wanted her to avoid, but she finished it before I did. I actually ended up using it as an example of why I thought Twilight was inappropriate for her age. I told her, “You know how Wings had maybe 4 or 5 sentences about yearning for love? Well, from what I understand, that’s what the whole Twilight series is!”
Characters “yearning and burning for love” has actually become a bit of a joke between us, but it’s been a valuable tool in giving us a vocabulary to use to talk about that theme. I also think that because we have discussed it I am helping her establish criteria for evaluating a book’s content (and it’s my hope, to help her avoid content that is too emotionally mature for her).
The bottom line, as I commented on Jen’s post, is that I DO want her to read. I want her to love reading. I know that a sure way for her to lose interest in reading is to become bored with it. She’s an advanced reader and she logs a lot of time reading each week, so I want her to be able to explore new themes and new styles.
She still just “wants to know what all the fuss is about” concerning Twilight, and I’m still going with my gut and saying no right now.
I don’t mind being a mean mom. I have to do what I believe is best for her, but I have to earn her trust and give her the opportunity to earn mine as well. It’s a fine line, and I hope I’m walking on the right side of it.
I keep a toe in the kidlitosphere mostly through the awesome gate of Jen Robinson’s Book Page. She not only reviews a lot of middle grade and young adult fiction, but does great round-ups linking to other reviews and discussions within the blogosphere.
The Kids’ Picks carnival held here the third Tuesday of each month is also a great resource. I love discovering new books and authors that other tweens and teens (or their parents) have enjoyed.
This line of thought opened the floodgates for me. You can read some of the thoughts I had to edit out of this post for length at my blog Snapshot.