All of my kids have learned to love to read. Thankfully. That’s not always a sure thing these days. Throughout the week, there are a lot of competing magnets for a kid’s time: video games, social media (we don’t allow our kids on social media–feel free to argue/disagree with me on that), Disney Plus, sports, legos, hobbies, etc., as well as the ubiquitous demands of school. Some of that competition, of course, I’m happy to see, such as sports and hobbies and school. And even lego (even though I can’t bear thinking about how much money we’ve spent on legos over the years).
There’s nothing I like better than seeing my kids curled up on the couch reading a book.
However, one of the problems is that it isn’t exactly easy to find excellent books for them to read. Over the last few years, I’ve been mining all the books I enjoyed as a kid and recommending them to my kids. It isn’t always a guarantee that they’ll like the same stories.
Here, try Narnia, Prydain, The Princess and the Goblin. Or, how about an Alexander Key story, Roald Dahl, Danny Dunn, The Great Brain? Sadly, none of my kids like the Great Brain books. I’m still stunned by that; though, one of them might undergo further brain development and suddenly realize John Fitzgerald is one of the best American writers ever to have walked the Utah landscape.
One of my kids was delighted by Harry Potter. He blazed through the series in a matter of weeks. And then re-read it. Now, I’m wracking my brain, trying to find a fantasy series followup for him. He wasn’t too impressed by Narnia. Enjoyed The Hobbit. LOTR is probably too much for him this year, but he might be ready in a year or so. Fairly ambivalent toward both Peterson’s Dark Sea of Darkness and Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles.
Any ideas? I’m definitely not offering him George Martin (too adult) or Robert Jordan (too uneventful and endless–perhaps that series should’ve been called The Endless Wheel of Time?–truth in advertising). I’ll try Spiderwick and Eragon. But, other than those, I can’t think of anything else that is currently age appropriate (12 years old).
I realize there’s been a ton of new youth fantasy written in the last ten years, but, to be honest, most of it is quite suspect. I try to read and sample and dip in here and there in order to stay abreast. There are some disturbing trends in anti-hero protagonists, adult themes that should have no place in writing for youth, nihilism as core philosophy, etc.
As I get older (not necessarily wiser, but just older), I have less patience for such messages. I find them sad and unhealthy, and largely a waste of time. Life is hard enough as it. I have no issue with dealing with such issues via the medium of literature (see most of everyone from Dickens to Dosteyevsky, etc.–all amazing writers, and they understood balance and priorities), but there’s no need to glorify it.