I have always been an avid reader and would still consider myself one today, although recently I’ve felt like the amount and quality of books that I have read has been limited. I’ve been focusing on academic literature, and as much as you can learn many new things, at times some chapters can be difficult to get through. I also enjoy all kinds of fiction and non-fiction books, but I’ve felt that reading has been more of a chore than enjoyment. What happened? Why can I no longer pick up a book and finish it? Why do I choose to read books right before bedtime, knowing within 5 minutes that I’ll fall asleep?
During February and March I read aloud a fantastic book to my students, and over Spring Break, I gave myself the duty of reading five children’s literature books, primarily due to the fact that I’m starting literature circle novel studies with my students mid April. The quality of these books was astounding! Although the text was simple, the underlying themes, character development, and opportunities for discussion with students was immense.
It made me wonder, why I can read a children’s book in two hours when I can hardly pick up an adult’s book? What is it about children’s literature that keeps me wanting to read more? Here’s what I’ve discovered:
1) ACTION! Within the first two chapters of the book, the story was progressing. I knew right away what the problem was, and didn’t need to wait for 100 pages into the book to be stimulated. Could a reason for this be because of over stimulation of children today, with video games and constant buzzing? I’m not sure, but either way, all of the books kept me reading because of this.
2) RELATIVITY I could relate to everything I read. Whether I experienced an event similar myself, heard about something like it before, or questioned whether it could in fact happen, the books were relatable!
3) CHARACTER PREDICTABILITY When I refer to predictability, I by no means am referring to boredom. In all the stories I read, how the character reacted, behaved, or performed was not out of the characteristics of that person. I could not predict what would happen, but when it did, it made sense. “Of course the character would do that.” I was never left wondering why someone made the choice he/she did.
4) EMOTIONS! All of these stories tugged at your emotions. Whether they were sad, funny, suspenseful, etc…, I was never bored while reading them.
5) THINKING Being back in my “teacher role” children’s literature allows for immense discussion opportunities: The relationships in the stories, the ability to ask your students questions, and allow them to truly think and share their thoughts. My mind was constantly buzzing with thoughts and questions while reading.
Can these five things above happen in adult literature? Of course, but the frequency and reliability of them happening in children’s literature was consistent. So if you are ever in that phase of not enjoying reading, I challenge you to pick up a children’s story and see if your views change!
Here is the list of the fantastic children’s stories that I read and highly recommend:
An incredible story about an eleven year old girl named Melody who cannot walk or talk (because of cerebral palsy), is smarter than most students her age, but nobody knows. Melody’s adventures begin when she starts public school for the first time! This book is a great read aloud for students, allows for empathy, understanding, and really drives home the message to not judge others based on their inabilities.
Sage is an orphan boy, but is truly a prince! After his family is murdered, he has to decide whether he can step up and rule Carthya as Prince Jaron. This trilogy will keep you turning page after page to find out what happens next. Just when you think it’s over, something else will challenge your thoughts. It’s filled with tragedy, heart-break, comedy, and suspense. Starting the first book will force you to read the entire set. It’s well worth your time!
Ivan is the one and only gorilla living at Exit 8 Big Top Mall. Ivan never thinks about his life in the wild, but is instead accustomed to human life and interactions, until Ruby, a baby elephant comes along. This is a beautiful story about friendship and never giving up.
Flora is a natural born cynic whose family life has seen better days, until a vacuum cleaner and squirrel come along. This story is written in typical Kate DiCamillo style, but will keep you turning the page to find out what will happen next.
Auggie was born with a face deformity that has always allowed him to be home schooled and sheltered. His parents decide it is time for him to start public school, middle school of all things, and the story unfolds. This story is very well written and really causes you to stop and think. A great discussion piece for any age!
A modern day Night at the Museum mixed with the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, will keep you turning the pages to see if Ophelia will solve the mystery of the Snow Queen. A great piece of creativity that all children will enjoy.
Willow is a twelve year old genius obsessed with medical conditions and nature. When tragedy strikes her life a journey of belonging and family begins. This is a beautiful story to read and offers opportunities to understand the difficulties that others face.
I’m currently reading The Fault in Our Stars, so more to come on that soon!
If you have read any great books that you would like to recommend, I love to hear about them. My love for reading has been rekindled by children’s literature, so I would love to hear more!