Calvin & Hobbes & Blog Reviews
May 15, 2007
My seven year old, a second-grader, is a mover and a shaker. Oh, sure, he likes his art projects and his Legos, but most sedentary activities are not high on his list of priorities. Our water bill and the miniature canyons in the flower beds ("Mom! I made a river!") give evidence of the elaborate engineering projects that he favors over homework during the after-school hours. (I am considering getting a rain barrel, so that he will have his own reservoir of cost-free h2O.)
One homework requirement is 15 minutes of reading each day at home. After his waterways experiments, Junior enjoyed reading picture books, particularly with his dad or me or his grandmothers, but he was not a bookworm. Until Calvin & Hobbes. I remembered a mention of Bill Watterson's comic-strips about the boy and his toy tiger; Camille, over at the blog Boot Moot, recommended them some time back. ("It continually amazes me that guys and girls cannot remember their multiplication tables but can recite entire pages of Calvin & Hobbes dialog and strips from memory.")
I found a C & H compilation at Junior's school library and left it out for him stumble upon. (To judge from its raggedy cover, I see it's one of the school's more well-loved volumes.) Upon discovery of this treasure, Junior sat down and read for an hour and a half. He'd seen and liked the comic before, but he really claimed this one as his own. Although I kept my elation to myself, I was thrilled that he found something he loved enough to read independently. An hour and a half: I almost fainted. Anyway.
Camille's recommendation, part of a post called "Books That Guys Love," is something that I wouldn't have found in the book review section of a newspaper. After all, Watterson stopped writing the comic almost twelve years ago. Book review sections consider new titles—ones that adult reviewers think will appeal (or not) to children. I understand that; it's what I do in my reviews of new books, too. Camille, a school librarian, knows which books get checked out over and over; children talk to her about what they like and don't like. That valuable perspective is one of the many ways in which blog reviews supplement reviews in the mainstream media. I am grateful—and so is the local bookstore. After discovering such a great book, Junior needed a copy of his own, of course.
We love Calvin and Hobbes. When Buster was younger he begged for every book he could find. There are some little boys that just fit Calvin to a T.
When I was teaching first grade I had the comic about Calvin's time machine cardboard box on my bulletin board above my desk. He goes forward in time to get his finished homework without having to write it... good idea but it doesn't work like that of course.
Wikipedia has some good entries on Calvin and Hobbes, and there are many other sites about themes, etc.
Posted by: cloudscome | May 15, 2007 at 03:37 PM
Even *I* still like reading Calvin and Hobbes, and it makes me so happy to see children still avidly reading the comics. They're some of the highest-circing titles in our comics collection (which is, as a rule, one of our highest circing collections -- we actually studied this).
Posted by: adrienne | May 15, 2007 at 04:18 PM
My little brother LOVED Calvin and Hobbes. I swear it was ONLY thing he would willingly read for a long time. He loved them. I loved hearing him laugh over them too. Now he is an avid reader of adventure books at age 27. :)
Posted by: Marcie | May 15, 2007 at 04:49 PM
We have both rain barrels and Calvin and Hobbs books, and both see much use...I do try, in a sort of vaugly anxious way, to insert comments into the later (which I am still reading outloud) along the lines of: "Calvin's teacher sure isn't as nice as yours!" "I think Calvin is being silly with the no-girls-allowed stuff" ... But sadly, I can't say "How much better it is to do your homework beforehand, like Suzy" because we are often doing our own 15 minutes of reading in the car on the way to school...
Posted by: Charlotte | May 15, 2007 at 04:50 PM
It's not just boys! I've had several girl students and two of my own three daughters dive head first into the Calvin and Hobbes books. The picture support is fabulous for English Language Learners. From a teaching POV they are amazing "bridge" books, that is, they help kids move steadily from knowing how to read to becoming lifelong readers.
Posted by: Amy | May 15, 2007 at 10:36 PM
I am so thrilled your son has found a series he likes.
"Although I kept my elation to myself, I was thrilled that he found something he loved enough to read independently. An hour and a half: I almost fainted."
That kind of comment gives me happy chills because finding that magical match between child and book is what has made being a librarian an ongoing thrill. You've made my day!
Posted by: Camille | May 15, 2007 at 11:29 PM
Has he tried the Zach Proton books by Brian Anderson yet?
And also, my nephew got hooked on all of my husbands old TinTins from days of yore. I mean, really hoooked....
Posted by: Liz in Ink | May 16, 2007 at 07:21 AM
Calvin and Hobbes is wonderful stuff, and a favorite of my second grade son too. He's proud that he can read it for himself... he was dragging it from one family member to the next for years, asking for it to be read aloud.
Posted by: Natalie | May 16, 2007 at 09:09 AM
My son went through a phase where he loved Calvin and Hobbes, too. My husband and I were amazed at how much he learned from reading them; we joked that we were going to write a book called "Everything I know About Life I Learned From Calvin and Hobbes." Now my son is really into Dilbert, and people who don't know he reads Dilbert are amazed at how much an 11-year-old knows about office life.
Posted by: Sheila Ruth | May 16, 2007 at 10:37 PM
It's great to hear about all the other C & H fans out there!
I'm so glad I came across Camille's post about Calvin & Hobbes. Because I don't read comics very often, I would never have thought of them, but Junior really does enjoy them. Although a very capable reader, he does not like chapter books unless someone else reads them aloud. Too many words on the page, he says. I'm not sure what that's about, but I'm glad he found something he likes.
Posted by: Susan | May 17, 2007 at 08:14 AM
This post helped decide me to shell out to replace my library's falling-apart copies of a couple of Calvin & Hobbes books with library bound ones, rather than just weeding them. I'd been on the fence about it because they're not "really" children's literature. But the truth is, kids--including many who otherwise have a hard time finding books they click with--love those books literally to pieces. They're worth it.
Posted by: bookbk | May 17, 2007 at 12:10 PM
That's excellent! I feel like I sort of grew up with Calvin & Hobbes and I love that it's still timeless enough to appeal to kids, even though--here I am--age 30.
Posted by: a. fortis | May 19, 2007 at 05:23 AM
My son learned to read (really read for himself) with Calvin and Hobbes. We now own the 3 volume Complete Calvin and Hobbes. He has read and memorized every word.
Posted by: wisteria | May 19, 2007 at 03:11 PM