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If you regularly find yourself lamenting kids’ devotion to electronic devices, texting and their inscrutable, abbreviated secret language, you’ll probably find this story heartening.
And so it begins
LitKid turned 13 recently and was having three friends over for a slumber party. Since this was a big birthday, and she was on board with having a smaller party (I lost my mind and allowed a past slumber party to swell to 11 girls a few years back), I thought it would be nice to get her friends a party favor that was nice/lasting (ie, not made of plastic or sugar).
I asked her what ideas she had, and she couldn’t think of anything right away. We were up against the clock, so I told her I had had an idea on the way to work -– how about giving her a friends a book she had enjoyed? I tossed out Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me as a first suggestion.
(I admit to bias on this one. It is one of my favorite books from recent years, based on its merits – it won the Newbery – and on the fact that I am a child of the 70s, so I felt right at home.)
Thumbs up or thumbs down? Cool mom or hopelessly bookish mom?
My girl obviously loves to read, but I was fully prepared for her to tell me that a 13th birthday party favor needed to be something cool or trendy – or that not all of her friends would be into getting a book.
But to my surprise and delight (after all, 13-year-olds don’t tend to think 49-year-olds’ ideas are cool), her immediate, enthusiastic response was that this was a “perfect idea!” and When You Reach Me was a perfect book to give her friends.
Quail Ridge Books, our favorite store, had three copies (which gave the idea a “meant to be” feel, as girls 4 and 5 had had to cancel at the last minute) and gift-wrapped them for us, as always.
The night of the party, I was very curious (and yes, a little nervous) to see how the girls would react to their bookish gifts.
Again, the tween/teen reaction was heart-warming.
All three girls were genuinely thrilled – not an overstatement, I promise – when they opened their gifts … even the one who had already read When You Reach Me.
“It was my little sister’s book from the library,” she said, “so I love having my own copy: I’m going to read it again … and hide it from my sister.”
Just another bit of unscientific evidence that print is not dead, and it’s always cool to be a reader, even at 13.
LitKid recently posted an excellent list of books she hopes to read and/or wishes to add to her library when her 11th birthday rolls around later this month; she later announced she hoped to read 2,000 books this summer.
When I gave her a cocked-eyebrow, incredulous-but-trying-to-not-crush-her-dreams sort of look, she was unfazed, though a few days later, she did allow as how she might revise her goal to 2,000 books by the end of the year instead.
My goals are more modest, especially since I have a non-kidlit stack to read this summer as well:
1) When You Reach Me, Rebecca Stead; I’m flipping back and forth between the hardcover and the audiobook on our July 4th holiday road trip. This one has been at the top of my reading wish list for awhile.
2) Wonder, by R.J. Palacio. By now, who hasn’t heard of the wonder of Wonder? My girl has done a class book report on it (complete with a way cool “Prezi” visual presentation for class), as well as reviewed it here. I can’t wait to read it.
3) The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall and The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. I hope to read Book 1 of at least one of these by the end of summer, and ideally I’ll fit in both.
4) Bunnicula, by Deborah and James Howe. Rosemary, our kidlit expert at Quail Ridge Books, highly recommended this one, and LitKid loved it. This is one of those books I’d want to read based solely on the title (maybe we’ll make a list of those books here one day; there are many strong contenders).