When someone asks me what I am reading, I always consider lying.
“Oh, I’m currently re-reading my favorite Shakespearian comedies.”
Or, “I’m reading The Isles by Norman Davies and Alison Weir’s collection on the British monarchy and then I’m going to read the latest biography about Mao Zedong.”
I consider lying because the truth is that I’m probably reading People magazine or perhaps the Twilight books, again. Or blogs. Do blogs even count as “reading”?
“I’m currently reading The Superficial and Feminist Mormon Housewives.” Um, yeah. That doesn’t sound nearly as erudite. (And NOTHING sounds nearly as erudite as using the word erudite on one’s blog.)
It’s not surprising that I read low-brow literature considering what I chose to read while growing up. When I learned how to use the school library in the sixth grade (yes, that’s correct, I didn’t learn how to check out a book until the sixth grade) I became addicted to The Babysitter’s Club first and then to Sweet Valley High. I read every single one. Ugh.
At home, we had a complete set of 1978 encyclopedias. That was cool. However, when I was bored with the encyclopedias I would read whatever else was on our bookshelves. Usually that would be a Readers’ Digest condensed novel or a Danielle Steele book. (I hold my mother fully responsible for my condensed novel and Steele phase).
Despite her penchant for Readers’ Digest, and against all odds, my mom tried to get me to read good literature. I’ll never forget reading The Secret Garden with her. We would read it in the formal living room (you know, the room where the vacuum marks were visible all week long) on the fancy couches. It was very special, but unfortunately, it didn’t ignite a passion for good books.
So, to my point. (Yes, there is one).
I want to build a library for Xiao Mei full of timeless children’s and young adult literature. I don’t want too many books, but enough to tempt her away from the shelf full of old issues of People (and realistically, by then, a shelf full of Weekly World News—Bat baby!).
Today I’m going to find my library card and pay my late fees. Then I’m going to borrow children’s books and start reading them. Lots of them. I’m going to start with the National Book Award finalists for young people’s literature or whatever the library staff recommends. If I love the book, I’m going to buy it.
See, I’m building a library (sung to the tune of Building a Mystery).
What do you recommend? What was your favorite book when you were a kid? What do your kids love to read? What is the Babysitter’s Club of today so I can avoid it?