When Diana was an advanced reader early on, I had the amazing good luck of going into a now-gone bookstore in our neighborhood, and saying, "Help! My daughter's reading the Metro section of the newspaper, but she's really little." Into our greedy little hands she put Betsy-Tacy, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, The Cobble Street Cousins, and more, and the Golden Age of kid reading began.
I think of this now because we got this in our in-box recently:
Our daughters are similar ages. My daughter is 11, almost 12 and in 6th grade. She is in middle school and is an advanced and capable reader. She loves to read. It is her most favorite activity and the one material thing she values most are her books. I am struggling with the fact that she feels youth fiction is too "basic or boring". I however am struggling with the young adult category. She is intrigued by all sorts or books but I struggle with the meaty topics and just not sure it is what as parents we want her exposed to. I know it is a reality and we do talk about all of these topics. But when I read these books I feel like they are just too much. She did read The Fault In Our Stars and then wanted to read Looking for Alaska. I read it first and thought it was too much. Any advice, thoughts, similar feelings?
Right now—and it has not always been thus—we let our girls read anything they want, with very different results. Chestnut, now 13, likes nonfiction (she LOVED How We Die) and realistic fiction (big fan of Rainbow Rowell, who we read together). Diana is deep into horror, fan fiction, fantasy (re-reading all of George R. R. Martin). Most of this came as a result of a conversation with a very smart writer and editor I know, who said his greatest joy as a kid was plundering his parents' bookshelves and reading every inappropriate thing there. Most of it went over his head, but it didn't matter—he was thrilled with the world that books opened to him. He then championed his own daughters' right to read anything and everything, something his wife wasn't crazy about but acceded to.
When did this change? I'm not sure. I think it changed when Chestnut entered 6th grade.
There are really two questions here: what are the parents comfortable with, and what are the kids OK with? It's such a personal question. When Chestnut was in 4th grade, I was sorry she read The Hunger Games (in school no less), and discouraged her from reading the following books. But now? I put no limits on what she reads. I would probably feel differently with watching movies, but that question doesn't come up for us because neither girl cares for movies. I've also never read Looking for Alaska.
What do you guys think? What words of kind and supportive wisdom do you have for this reading parent? What is there for her advanced reader to read (a lot of old-fashioned books, is my idea)? How did you manage this with your own kids, if you did?