When I was in college, one of my most looked-forward-to activities was studying for classes reading the Waverly News-Democrat, a small-town Tennessee newspaper that one of my friends got in the mail each week. She wanted to keep up with her hometown goings-on, but I loved the reports from a tiny community outside Waverly called Bakerville. My friend knew the Bakerville columnist, and referred to her as Miss Frances. So I did, too. Miss Frances had an eye for detail, never missed much at all that I could tell, and recorded any number of events, like, "The Hunt family visited this week from Chicago, Illinois." (A good time was had by all. Always.) A boy once had a tick in his ear and had it removed at the doctor's office in Waverly. It involved a drive. Others took a trip to Destin, Florida.
Bakerville people and their kinfolks married, moved to far-away places, and passed away, naturally, but my all-time favorite was when Miss Frances wrote about this: "Today I went to the grocery store, and for the first time ever, there was not an abundance of bananas." Sure, it was a little different from her usual fare, but don't you just know what Miss Frances means? Grocery stores should have an abundance of bananas, and when they don't, well, something is amiss and ought to be noted.
Which brings me to the resident nine year old and books. There has not been an abundance of reading around here this summer. A bit of read-aloud (by me), a bit of Garfield (by him), and some listening to the excellent audiobook version of City of Ember on a car trip constitute the bulk of Junior's literary endeavors so far. There has been an abundance of SpongeBob watching.
I thought of some remedies to the situation, while keeping in mind that my ideas are not always met by overwhelming enthusiasm.
1. Make read-aloud a more regular event, at a set time.
2. Place enticing nonfiction like The Day-Glo Brothers (by my pal Chris Barton) on Junior's bed.
3. Visit the library with Junior at a time when he is not dead-tired after camp. Let him play Poptropica games on the computer and then suggest looking for books.
4. Wrestle SpongeBob down to an hour a day.
5. Capitalize on Junior's interests. Make a bigger effort to find books on pet garter snakes, which are surprisingly hard to find. The books, I mean. The snake? Not so much.
That's it, so far. I'll let you know how it goes. Meanwhile, if you have additional suggestions or recommendations for a kid who avoids Harry Potter like the plague, I'm listening—because fifth grade is coming up, and an abundance of reading is only going to help.