On this blessed mound of dirt hurtling through the infinite wonders of space there are three words that have an uncanny ability to stop me in my tracks. Three simple words that will steal my attention away, no matter the location; exotic locale, mardi gras parade, civil war reenactment - white sand beaches and gunpowder clouds are equally left in the dusty majesty (majestic dust) of these three little words.
Those words are: cream. cheese. frosting.
Hark! Are those angels? Nay. Just the dulcet tones of my beloved co-worker Liz T as she pages up to the front and asks, do I want red velvet or Boston cream? My own personal Sophie's choice. Which do I love less? HOW COULD A MOTHER EVER CHOOSE?! YOU MONSTERS!
...So Liz T brought in cupcakes today in celebration for our fearless leader Dana's imminent birthday on Saturday. They were excellent, Happy birthday Dana! Just for you I have infused this blog post with about 45% more hilarity and I will be paying More attention to my grammar and spelling than usual. This post is also fat free, gluten free, and has been organically grown by breast-fed cherubs of their own free will.
Yesterday I helped a women who, exasperated, came to the register and said "I have a thirteen year old student, he won't read, I've tried everything. Do you think this will get him to read?" And handed me a copy of Time Magazine's "All Time Greatest Musicians". I flipped through it, and while I think it would be perfect for a kid obsessed with music, all I know about this particular minor is that he's some 13 year old dude that hates reading. I have no idea if reading blurbs about The Doors and Patti Smith is going to jump start his reading instinct; maybe, but probably not. I immediately went for Jay-Z's "Decoded" and Bill Simmon's "The Basketball Book" because I have never had to shop for a 13 year old boy in my life and I just went for the stereotypes.
But what I really wanted to say was, lady, you seem very nice but frankly if I knew what gets kids that don't want to read to read, I would be pronounced queen of all 4th-8th graders and carried out of here on a sea of tiny, thankful hands. Maybe slightly sticky from Capri-sun and gummi bears. Wow does that sound like a great corn-syrup rush.
I don't remember actively ever not wanting to read, but I wasn't much of a reader when I was a kid. At least, not compared to the rest of my family. Also, I was a writer, so everyone expected me to devour books. Honestly, I am a slow reader; it takes me a long time to finish a book, and because I'm secretly a dilettante (you have no idea how badly I want to be in jodhpurs and tuning my piano forte when I say that) I get distracted; I am famously known (by my stepmother and roommate, so its pretty serious) for reading half a book, putting it down, and then never picking it up again. Not because the story is bad, but because that's just what is going to happen. A blameless crime. It took me YEARS to realize that this doesn't make me a bad person, or even a bad reader. I remember everything from the books I've read all the way through. I don't take this business of reading lightly, so it takes me a while to slog my way through.
But I digress. What did I, a young, creative individual with
For kids in that age bracket, I think the best thing you can do is let them read trashy Young Adult series like these. The writing is not challenging, but I think this was my first exposure to the concept that a storyline could be so exciting that, mom, we have to go - no - we have to go to the store NOW because they close IN LIKE, AN HOUR, MOM and if I don't know what happens to the main character I WILL VANISH FROM THIS EARTH. SERIOUSLY MOM. GET YOUR PURSE. Please, I said please already, can we just go, okay?
These two series were my favourites. The first, "Sweep", by Cate Tiernan, is about the travels of a young girl (probably somewhere around 16 or 17) that practices magic and is also a teenager, both of which were totally scintillating for young me. For those of you that weren't lucky enough to have one yourself or at the very least be the parent of a child that had one, sometimes, children (but especially girls) go through a "Wicca phase" where they frequent the local occult store (thanks, Ritual Arts in Allston, MA) and go on really meaningful day trips to Salem. I don't know what it is, but something about being in your tweens makes you want to bind yourself to the earth mother and buy a ton of incense. Which is not to say paganism is not a totally legitimate choice for one's spirituality, just that, to your garden-variety 13 year old girl, something about that stereotype is appealing. In any case, these books were fun and magicy and dealt with fascinating teenager problems like the looming prospect of sexual activity (OOOH!) and school and delicious, delicious angst.
The second, "Fearless", I recommend for all girls, despite their spiritual persuasion. This series is about a girl who can't feel fear. I was drawn to this because 1. I like when girls are in situations in which they are traditionally, stereotypically powerless and end up truly laying waste to a slew of evil, and 2. I like when people have super powers but they don't wear capes, and instead are kind of bummed out about said super powers, I believe its called the reluctant hero or some such business. Its awesome. Angst! Pour it on!
Jodie just came up to me and said "Wow that is a novel. Don't expect me to read it." Welp, that is gentle Jodie's way of telling me perhaps I have gone on too long. We'll finish this later, Brookline. By the way, these are young adult series from the 90's; I bet there are people writing even better ones these days. If you're interested, come to the store and ask for one of our many children's booksellers, who are wizards. That is not hyperbole. They are wizards, we hired them to sell kids books and perform minor acts of magic around the store.
Now you know.