Wednesday, August 22, 2007

On A Brighter Note

Like many parents, I am forever grateful to J.K. Rowling. Because of her, my daughter is reading.

In just a couple of months, more or less, my eight-year-old has gone through Ms. Rowling's seven Harry Potter books. No mean feat, in my opinion. I didn't start reading till I was ten (I started with the Greek myths, then C.S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia, and next jumped into J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord Of The Rings; every book thereafter, no matter the subject or genre, was a target).

At first I thought she was just scanning through, but my wife asked her some detailed questions about the story and my daughter could answer them all. She wasn't just scanning through. Mom and Dad are proud.

I remember telling myself that I would offer the Narnian books to my daughter once she hit ten, but I also remember feeling dismayed that she would ever be interested because she didn't seem taken by books in general (notwithstanding the fact that her parents always seem to have their noses in books, and diligently read to her until she was five). Then of course Harry Potter came along and she got swept into the whole marketing blitz and popularity of it all, felt the peer pressure from her classmates, and got into it.

So, once she was done with Hogwarts, I passed on to her my old Narnian books, two years earlier than planned. She started last night and finished two chapters before bedtime (yes, I snuck a look at where her bookmark was placed while she was sleeping). She's reading those books for sure. Actually reading.

After she's done, should I give her Siddhartha next? Too big a jump, maybe? How about Jane Austen? My wife likes Jane Austen and her Victorian chick-lit tales (can't say I'm a big fan, but I've gone through them). Maybe my kid will too. Still too big a jump? Maybe Roots? I've always liked Alex Haley's Roots.


"Artemis Fowl muna," my wife said, so that's that.

"Fine, fine. I'm good with that," I replied. "Just remember how I gave in to you this time the next time you call me 'unreasonable.'"

Mom and Dad are proud.

Now, to work on my second daughter.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

cute :) i wish i could get my 13 year old niece to read even at least the first harry potter.

10:57 AM  
Blogger Elyss said...


Heard on the radio that JK was spotted at an Edinburgh cafe writing a CRIME DETECTIVE story.

Don't know how true that is but that's one novel I'd be on the lookout for in the future.

12:05 PM  
Blogger pgenrestories said...

Hi Sharmaine! Good luck with your niece. You might just have to hope for peer pressure, if nothing else.

Thanks for the news, Christie! I did catch that article in the newspapers the other day or two, but I also remember reading months ago that Ms. Rowling is considering writing under a psuedonym from now on. She's still undecided, but if she does decide not to use her real name, we might never know which detective novel is hers when it comes out.

But I do hope she uses her real name. With her influence, it could spark her fans to read further than Harry Potter. Plus, it's a crime piece! That might revive the genre here!

12:38 PM  
Blogger exie abola said...

Don't lose hope with the kids. According to what I've read, one of the most important things you need to do to get your children to read is to show them a good example -- read yourself. So if the kids see their folks always with books, that makes it much easier for them to form the habit.

5:55 PM  
Blogger exie abola said...

Have you seen this article in the NY Times? Interesting, but a bit drepressing too:

Potter Has Limited Effect on Reading Habits

Published: July 11, 2007

Of all the magical powers wielded by Harry Potter, perhaps none has cast a stronger spell than his supposed ability to transform the reading habits of young people. In what has become near mythology about the wildly popular series by J. K. Rowling, many parents, teachers, librarians and booksellers have credited it with inspiring a generation of kids to read for pleasure in a world dominated by instant messaging and music downloads.

And so it has, for many children. But in keeping with the intricately plotted novels themselves, the truth about Harry Potter and reading is not quite so straightforward a success story. Indeed, as the series draws to a much-lamented close, federal statistics show that the percentage of youngsters who read for fun continues to drop significantly as children get older, at almost exactly the same rate as before Harry Potter came along.

6:08 PM  
Blogger pgenrestories said...

Hi Exie.

I used to think that if I and the Missus had our noses in books all the time, the kids would follow. But now I'm not so sure... Oh well, no worries. I'm not going to stop reading anytime soon anyway. It's just that the books have to compete with Pokemon and High School Musical sometimes.

Oh no! Another sad article!

But it seems to be a very real trend, even for "oldies" like us. As one gets older, one takes in more that life has to offer: more things to study, more friends, more parties, more responsibilities, growing ambitions, more places/events you want to see, etc. Less time to read. But as a youngster, with so much limiting what one can do, the time for books is greater.

3:24 PM  
Blogger Dean said...

Hey Kyu, that's wonderful to hear! Like Exie said, we parents need to set the example. In Sage's case, she's telling us stories of her own already - so the next step is to get her to write them down (one lives in hope LOL)

3:26 PM  
Blogger pgenrestories said...

Hi Dean! Galing na Sage! Protege!

But, oh wow! Poor Sage might also be under so much pressure if she does go into writing, with you and Nikki for parents.

It's the same pressure Andre Agassi's and Steffi Graf's kids would have to face if they ever decide to take up tennis. :)

3:32 PM  
Blogger Dom Cimafranca said...

I'd heartily recommend Lloyd Alexander's Prydain books. They're not that expensive and you won't have to wait ten years to complete the series.

Also picked up a whole set of Sammy Keyes young adult detective novels, all under P30, from National Book Store.

12:02 PM  
Blogger pgenrestories said...

Thanks for the tips, Dominique!

12:25 PM  
Blogger PVC said...

Well, opinions are kind of divided on his work, but Pullman's "His Dark Materials" seems to me an excellent follow up choice, well, unless you're very concerned about religious (or anti-religious to be precise) undertones.

Kenneth Oppel's Airborn and Skybreaker are more conventional choices, but really well executed.

And, if she's more an Emily the Strange kid, Gaiman's Coraline makes for good, creepy fun ^_^

6:00 PM  
Blogger pgenrestories said...

Thanks for the titles, Pao! I'm all right with Pullman's books; I haven't heard of Oppel, but I will give him a try. He must be good, he has an excellent first name ;). I'll also point her in the direction of Coraline, but she's a bit averse to scary stories. But we'll see! Thanks again!

6:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My mother started my reading with Funny komiks and then to Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew until it lead me to Agatha Christie. By eight, I was enjoying Poirot and Miss Marple.

My mother was not really a reader but she took time to get me to bookstore almost every week and let me pick books with covers that I like by sight. It was always fun picking those books and if I like the book, it made proud of my choice. If I picked a book I don't like, I still act as if Im proud of my choice. :)

12:14 AM  
Blogger pgenrestories said...

Hi yebastick. I think I'll follow what your mother did and start bringing my kids to the bookstore more often. :) Thanks for dropping by!

9:21 AM  

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