First off, I’m a little behind where I want to be in posting, but that’s because of the exhibit that I was trying to finish and it’s done now (if that ‘sticky’ post up there isn’t enough of a clue.) So this is a follow-up post to Halloween, and a practice that we were alerted to by Jenny Lawson over at The Bloggess (and you should definitely check out her books.)
The practice is All Hallows Read, and it’s pretty simple: offer scary books for Halloween. Not instead of candy, unless you really want to, but in addition to. We found out about this in time last year and managed to procure a small selection of books by Halloween, mostly through secondhand book sources. Having more time to prepare this year, we had a larger selection, which was good, because we had more kids this year. And they all took a book, and all of them seemed absolutely delighted. So were the parents. The best, I think, was the little preschool-age girl last year that hesitantly took her book, but on the way back down the walk her dad (I’m assuming) offered to hold the book for her so she could handle her candy bucket better; she adamantly refused to relinquish it.
Last year The Girlfriend’s Sprog noticed that kids were simply taking the first book she held out, apparently unwilling to make a selection, so this year we put a small bookcase out on the front walk and arranged what we had roughly by age range, letting the kids pick – this definitely seemed to work better. We did, of course, help them choose, or pick out a small selection for the parents with infants and toddlers in tow (well, in stroll I guess, or in push or whatever the hell.) And we got to hear from someone who had visited last year who was absolutely delighted at the idea, so here’s hoping that it’s going to get established a bit better.
It’s funny; I don’t get the impression that kids need to be encouraged to read, because they seem to do it just fine, given the opportunity. It just doesn’t occur to them to say, “Hey, can we go to the bookstore/library?” mostly because few kids know how to pronounce “/”. But with books in front of them, they’re generally pretty good about picking something that they’ll like. I can’t speak as a parent because I’m not, and the very thought is horrifying to be honest, but I’ll still suggest that the parental duty, or our adult responsibility if you will, is to ensure that the option is there without prompting from the kids. Set aside some time every month to hit the bookstore and let them browse, or the library. Pick out a few and pay attention to what strikes the child’s fancy. And let them see you doing it. Schools are, all too often, more willing to turn reading into a chore rather than entertainment or interest, so don’t leave it up to them.
And don’t be too guided by ‘suggested age’ ranges or reading levels or any of that horseshit – I’m sincerely glad that I wasn’t (though it occurs to me that using myself as an example might not be the best of moves.) Hey, I’m sitting here in my mid-fifties and reading stuff intended for 65 and up, which I’m pretty proud of…