Readers

Fiction - October 09
Fiction – October 09 (Photo credit: Pesky Library)

Here it is 8:00pm Wednesday night and my children are buried deep in their books. They finished their homework hour ago, this is reading for fun. The house is silent except for the hum of the water cooler and refrigerator. The odd comment comes from one of the offspring and a giggle about the part of the book they have reached. They are both reading Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan. This is the latest from the Percy Jackson series that hooked my kids a long time ago.

There is nothing that gives me as much pleasure than knowing I raised readers.

It started when they turned one. I read Good Night Moon every night before bed. Children need lots of repetition. When we could talk about what was happening in the pictures we increased the books to two before bed. Eventually, we worked up to longer content and by the time my kids were in school, we were reading chapter books together. They would read to me for homework, then before bed, I would read to them. It was pure pleasure on my part. Together we read The Magic Coin, Charlotte’s Web, The Trumpet of the Swan, The Narnia Series and of course the entire Harry Potter series. We read classics like Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. I would choose stories that I loved from my childhood, like Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great and Tales of the Fourth Grade Nothing.

Parent/Teacher interviews often had a book fair on the same evening. These fairs were library fundraisers for the school. I would always reward my children with a books of their choice. It was a big deal. Family nights were often a trip to the bookstore and a cup of hot chocolate. We learned that Alex Rider was a great series and Clementine made for great bedtime reading. The trick was finding books that appealed to my kids sense of adventure.

Then one day, the day came when my kids read on their own before bed. They would come and kiss me good night, and tell me they were going to bed early so they could read the latest adventures of Peter and the Star Catchers or Anne of Green Gables. Even as they entered high school, the stories changed and Michio Kaku and his physics books became more interesting than fiction, they still would read every night and complain if they were out of books.

On the “I have read these books” shelf, my kids have placed The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Steve Jobs, The Time Travelers Wife, 11/22/63, Tara Road and many other adult fiction titles. It makes me smile when they pick up a book they have already read because it feels like an old friend. The books that get revisited most often are the Peter and the Starcatchers series and the Hunger Games. Occasionally book #4 of Harry potter comes out or a companion book like Magical Beasts and Where to find them.

Dinner conversation sometimes revolves around books, “I never thought I would see the day when ‘underscores’ were used in dialogue.” Huh… I wasn’t even sure what that meant, but a meaningful conversation ensued. Both offspring have decided to take it slow with Mark of Athena because of the sadness that comes with finishing a great book. We have all gone through that mourning period when we think about the characters long after the book is finished. They each have several books in queue, but the one they are reading is currently the best. Perfect for a quiet Wednesday night at home.

What were some of your favorite reads as a kid?

I know stuff because I’m old

I am the fountain of useless knowledge. Jealous? You should be! I could beat a fair number of you in a Trivial Pursuit game. Give it a twist and add hockey and Disney and you would be toast. The older I get the more brilliantly trivial I get. And I don’t mean that in a good way.

I was sitting at lunch the other day and got into a discussion about Greek Mythology. I spouted off facts about blood spouting from the neck of Medusa when Perseus was beheading her and Pegasus and Chrysador emerged. I suppose it wasn’t a discussion so much as me explaining what happened. My partner looked at me and burst into fits of laughter… “who knows that stuff?” she said through tears of laughter. “Apparently I do”. I owe this to my bucket list called 50 in 50. I wanted to read Greek Mythology and did. It isn’t as interesting as the way it is described in the Percy Jackson series, I recommend that version instead.

Another day we pulled the DVD/VCR combo into the classroom so we could watch a movie based on a story we were learning about that week. My other partner popped the VHS tape into the VCR and rewound it while the movie was shown on the screen. I said press Stop, then Rewind it is much faster. She looked at me like I was a nut bar and then said, I do not understand this thing. WHAT?!?! You can’t work a VCR? Apparently this was another tidbit of knowledge I knew that no one else did.

Yesterday we were discussing the various types of Ski Lodges around the city and why they were different. Well, on was in a Provincial Park, so there was grant money for that one. That is why it is a nice facility. There is another one that is run by the City of Edmonton, so upkeep is based on parks and rec dollars. Then there is the privately owned ones. Having worked in the Ski industry while I was in high school, I knew that it cost a fortune to run a facility and not a lot of money was to be made especially if it was a particularly cold year or dry year. My partners looked at me again with a stunned gaze as if to say “you know a whole lot about nuttin!” I guess you could compare me to George Kostanza.

Then there are those conversations where people at the lunch table are discussing things of their childhood, like Strawberry Shortcake dolls, TMNT, and Cabbage Patch Kids. I look at them and they say, you remember those. Well sure I do, but normally the students I taught played with those, not me. Then they laugh and say you aren’t THAT old. Hmmm wanna bet? I was born in the ’60’s. The look on one of the gals faces was priceless. “SHUT UP!” “No” I said, “It is true”. Apparently I am  a couple of years younger than her mom. Only I don’t seem old. Wow, Thanks?

I am not old, I am middle aged. I am old enough to be the granny of all my students. I said that to one of them and she said, my grandma is old you aren’t. Cool, when a 5 year old says you are not old, then it’s all good!

I am currently reading Stephen King’s 11/22/63. The concept is pretty cool. It is about traveling back in time, changing an event and witnessing a different outcome. The problem being, each time you go back you start back at zero. You undo all the things that were previously done. Cool concept. I particularly liked how the main character talked about the taste and smells of things from the past. Rootbeer being full flavored.Yum!

I remember things tasting …more or smelling…more I think it has a lot to do with preservatives and chemicals altering our bodies and the food we ingest. I don’t think going back in time means to a simpler time, it was just different. Having a head full of useless knowledge would make it more interesting. Betting on sports events, stocks or even being at the right place at the right time for a change.

I think about what I would to change things in my life and perhaps history itself. The nifty part being, if I don’t like the outcome I could just pop back and grab a coke in a glass bottle and call it a day. Things would be right as rain again. So what would I do? Where would I be?

A girl friend of mine in high school went to Boston to go to college. That sounds good! Another friend spent a year in Italy, wow that sounds good too! I think I would not work at the ski hill in high school, then I would NOT meet a certain idiot stick. Then I would want to go to a proper University right off the bat. I would love to go away to school. My cousin went to Scotland for University for one year. I would choose New York. Then see what happens. How cool would it have been to be there for Mark Messier winning the cup? Too fabulous to even think about. Get my business degree in human resources and work for Tiffany & Co on 5th avenue? Yes Please! Okay, that is what I would do and live of the avails of gambling on sports teams to finance my whimsy. Useless knowledge could be a financial boon for me.  If it sucked? I would just come back. How could it suck? Diamonds, New York, Mark Messier… it’s all good.

Being old has it’s advantages. It also gives me the hindsight to know if I had done those things, then the offspring wouldn’t have a change to do these things