My new reader has finally moved on from Dr. Seuss and Ricky Ricotta. He started the school year at a reading level equivalent to the average first grader five months into the year. He is now reading at a level somewhere around the middle of second grade. Okay, yes, I’m a proud parent. After all, I’m a reader. I love to read! I could not survive without books to read.
His current level includes the Nate the Great books by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat and the Henry and Mudge books by Cynthia Rylant. A friend of mine tried to interest him in Henry and Mudge in October and he refused to even look at the cover. But once he got to choose his own books from the orange bins (which correspond to his current reading level), he started bringing home Henry and Mudge. And, of course, he loves them!
At the same time, he has become interested in the Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Park. They are in the next reading level (purple), but he brought one home from the library anyway. I had heard the controversy, but hadn’t yet formed an opinion. I had no idea my first-grade son would like a book narrated by a kindergarten girl (I mean, GIRL).
Well, I get why some parents, teachers and librarians have a problem with Junie B. She does not narrate in grammatically correct sentences. She hollers (I mean, HOLLERS) a lot. She gets in a lot of trouble. The kind of trouble I hoped my son would never even think of.
But she sure has a way with words. A way that keeps my six-year-old reading past his bedtime. A way that gets him reading on car trips. A way that keeps him coming back for more.
Reading makes my son happy, which makes me happy. And as our new National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Katherine Paterson, says, “Read for your life”.