“You know I refuse to take out books based on TV shows, put it back on the shelf.” – overheard at the library
No doubt the mom who said this to her little girl the other day has the best of intentions, but I couldn’t disagree more with this rule. You are in a library, and your child is excited about a book she’s looking at and…you refuse to check it out?!
There are probably a few reasons for this parent’s approach to book choice. I’m just guessing but perhaps she was thinking it would save her from having to read aloud what is probably not the most compelling piece of children’s literature out there. Or, maybe she hoped to discourage her child from asking to watch the TV show itself. Maybe she believes strongly in sharing high quality texts with children. I can understand all of these reasons. But my thought is, the little girl was interested in reading the book. They were in a library filled with lots of other books—if they took out several, does it really matter if one of those was arguably a piece of fluff reading?
Think about what you like to read. Maybe it’s dense literary novels. Maybe it’s technical documents. Maybe it’s in-depth non-fiction on Very Serious Topics. Or…maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s fashion magazines. Maybe it’s blogs. Maybe it is the sports page. Maybe it’s genre fiction. Or maybe, like so many of us, it’s a bit of everything. As a reader, you have the right to personal choice: shouldn’t children*, if we want them to grow to see themselves as readers?
Right now BB#2 has a thing for Pokemon graphic novels. He can’t really read them on his own yet, so guess who ends up reading them? And I admit, I find them deadly dull. I’ve even been known to drift off while reading them aloud. But I still get them out for him, and I still read them. Why? Because he loves them. Pokemon graphic novels get him excited about reading. And isn’t that the point? I suspect it’s unlikely he’ll still be reading them in two or three years, or when he’s a grown up. He’ll have moved on.
And, they are not the only books he’s exposed to. Our usual haul from our weekly trip to the library includes whatever picture books draw him that day; a few non-fiction texts, often about cute animals; picture books that I pick up, often based on recommendations from educators or writers I follow on Twitter; sometimes a movie or TV series on DVD; something in French for his brother; a couple of easy-reader type books; and often a high-quality novel that will be our bedtime read aloud (we’re currently reading Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl).
As I’ve mentioned before, we also have a large collection of books at home. We receive kids’ magazines in the mail. And Pokemon cards have been hugely motivating for BB#2 in terms of reading and numeracy—board games too. So if he wants to take out some book based on a TV show—if that is the book that has him wanting to be read to, or to read, today—hells yes, add it to the pile! Better than whining for a toy from that show, no? Or watching the show?**
*With the understanding that certain content may not be appropriate for certain children at a certain age.
**In all honesty, I’m an everything in moderation kinda mom, and freely admit that we do watch TV and play video games here, in addition to reading and lots of other stuff.