“I used to read these all the time when I was little,” she said as she handed me a “Who Was” book to check out. She said it as if she was a little embarrassed to be checking out a book she'd read as a 3rd grader now that she was coming to the end of her 5th grade year.
“I thought it would be fun to read it again," she added with a shrug.
“Absolutely!” I said as I handed back the book, and I meant it from the bottom of my book-loving heart.
In my time as a school library volunteer, I have seen squirrely 5th graders checking out picture books with an embarrassed look and an awkward giggle.
“We don’t really want to check out a book today,” they say, “So we just grabbed one.” This usually takes place in twos or threes. They laugh at each other as they hand me the books.
I smile, and check out the books for them. Joke or not, they may enjoy that picture book more than they thought if they give it a chance. I always hope they read it when they get home.
Once a fifth grade boy handed me a copy of Ramona the Brave and said, “I just grabbed a book, I am not really going to read it.” Before I could comment, his friend joined in from behind, “You should read it, it’s a good one!”
As a fellow Ramona lover I quickly agreed.
I firmly believe that a book is never too young if you are reading for fun. As C.S. Lewis famously said, “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” In other words, a good story is a good story and should be enjoyed by anyone at any age. This applies to adults reading kids books, AND it applies to 5th graders checking out Ramona and/or picture books.
At school my kids work to develop their reading to age-appropriate levels. At home I just want them to read. If I catch my son, at the ripe-old age of 11, picking up the copy of Mercy Watson that his younger brother just put down, I’m going to let him finish the book, ask if he liked it, and proceed to make a pile of hot-buttered toast for the two of us to eat while we discuss the finer points and funny parts of Mercy's always entertaining story.
Let me say it one more time, a book is NEVER too young, when you are reading for fun!
It’s true for our kids, it’s true for me and it’s true for you too!