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In Which I Read Stuff: Kids’ Books

A while ago I was chatting with someone about books and bookstores and all that sort of thing and the question was asked: so, what do I read? I answered rather stupidly — “um, not bestsellers” or somesuch — but it did remind me that I’ve fallen out of the habit of posting about books, so I’ll start to correct that now.

What do I read? The honest answer is, anything that holds still long enough for my eyes to focus on it. But I don’t have a lot of time (and even less money) for physical books, so — while I’m being honest here — I’ll admit that most of my “reading” lately has been either children’s books or audiobooks. (Although I was recently given some excellent books for my birthday, which I’m very much enjoying and which I will talk about later.)

I read a lot of kids’ books because my daughter brings them home and she has pretty fun taste in books. I like to get a sense of what she likes so I can buy her books she’ll enjoy. Given the amount of travelling she does each summer, I like to send her and/or whoever’s flying with her with lots of new books. Also, she’s a Talker so it helps to have read what she’s read if I would like to understand much of what she’s telling me.

So on that front, I can recommend Patricia C. Wrede’s four Enchanted Forest books, which have dragons and princesses and things but which are far more clever than that brief summary implies. The protagonist in the first book is a princess who flees to the dragons in search of a less vapid life and then has to explain to dozens of would-be rescuers that no, she does NOT wish to be rescued and would prefer to remain Chief Cook and Librarian to the dragons, thankyouverymuch. They’re quite fun. Fast reads in book form, and well done as full-cast audiobooks as well.

I’ve also dipped into the Dear Canada books. D calls them Canadian History Propaganda books, which is fair. M has been bringing them home from the library of her own accord. It’s a whole serious of deeply wholesome books purporting to be diaries of girls at various points in Canadian history. These I find a bit tedious but M loves them and they’re not horrible. Faint praise, but there you go. Harmless stuff.

Collectively we’ve also been enjoying the How to Train Your Dragon series, which are full of goofiness and farting and so on. The sample sentences in Dragonese are worth the price of admission.

The child has also enjoyed Kenneth Oppel’s bat books. I’ve only read the first one, and I admit I bought it for M on the basis of 1 degree of separation from Ken Oppel plus good reviews, but they are indeed good books. M’s read all of them and they led to much swooping about and pretending to be a bat, which I enjoyed much more than the princess phase, so there you go.

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