My third grader is at this amazing point in her life where she has turned a corner. To quote her teacher: “she is no longer learning to read, she is reading to learn.” It happened overnight. One day she was giggling and reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid and the next she was diving into books that really matter. The kind of books that consume you while you read them and later become a small part of who you are.
I have to start really paying attention now. Because prior to this change, I was just happy she wanted to read anything. But now, she’s into books. She really thinks about them and the sad or difficult parts stick with her. I’m the same way, though I’m a much bigger cry baby.
Recently, she told me that she loved the writer Patricia Polacco. She came home with a ton of her books from school one day and we sat down together to read one called “Pink and Say“. It looked like a picture book for younger kids, so I wondered why she chose it. It’s a civil war story of two friends, one white and one black. It was amazing. And it was heartbreaking. I was sobbing at the end and my daughter (while not crying – mostly because my blubbering amused her) was also deeply moved. We shared a really special moment and an incredible book.But it made me think, how many other books is she reading that are like this that I don’t know about? Thought provoking, amazing, but also sad or upsetting. My daughter can be… tender-hearted. And I want to be a good parent and encourage her read the good stuff – even if its hard. But I felt body-slammed by the sadness in “Pink and Say” in large part because I didn’t expect it. If I’d had a head’s up, I probably would have gotten more out of reading it. Instead I just ugly cried through the last half while my child raised her eybrows at me and patted my arm.
I decided to find the books that she might read in school between now and maybe 6th grade (or maybe find in the library) so that I can give her a head’s up and say: “That’s a great book! But if you want to talk about it or have a hard time with it, that’s cool. Because there’s some sad parts in there.”
Here’s the list. All of these books are wonderful. If you have other suggestions for me, I’d be very grateful for them!
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