-posted by Meghan
My mom (Ruth) has instilled in me a love of books, reading and writing that began as far back (and farther- that’s me at about 18 months old to the left) as I can remember. I am inspired by her mothering and teaching skills and have tried to pass along that passion. And being an educator, she didn’t stop at having books around or just reading them – she has always asked and poked and made me think about what and why. So it was with little surprise earlier this summer that I came upon Grandma and Grandpa chatting with the kids (on camera) about how they view reading and writing and what it means to them. Molly, never camera-shy, was happy to hold forth on what makes a good reader or good writer.
As 4-year-old Molly illustrates, there is no “too young” for these thoughtful research questions. There is also no “too old.” Another fascinating family experiment is to let the kids turn the tables and interview family members (parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and more) about their favorite books, authors, and what makes a good reader or writer – and if they think of themselves in those contexts.
Inspired by Mum, and Erin Ocon’s queries to her 8th-grade students, I asked Molly and Jacob some simple questions, and plan to ask them this same set of questions each year, to see how their tastes and thought processes change. I challenge you to do the same with your kids!
Why should people read?
Molly: “Because that the books are for the world and in the world and if they don’t read them the world will break, so they have to read them.”
Jacob: “Because that they like book and they need books.”
Who is your favorite writer?
Molly: “You Mommy, because you write good stories about us.”
(We are both in fact writers, and they are used to us writing, reading things back to each other, and attending readings and writers groups, so I think that skewed their answer!)
What is your favorite book?
Molly: “Policeman Small, because I am a small girl and I like to dress up like a police officer.”
Clearly, I learned an important lesson- separate them next time I ask questions! But the really interesting thing is what happened next. Molly turned to me and said, “Mommy, it is now my turn to ask you some questions. Who is your favorite writer and what are your favorite books?” And when I told her, she asked why, and this kicked off a fantastic 20-minute discussion about books and reading and what happens in books and why we like certain types. And when we were done (me giddily leaking a few happy tears), I thanked them for talking with me and answering my questions. Jacob said, “Mommy, think of more questions for us. I don’t want to be done with questions and answers. I like this.” So we spent another 15 minutes or so just peppering each other with questions. It was some of the most delightful quiet time I’ve spent with the kids in a long time. You never know where a few questions might lead you…