Thoughts On Reading Michelle Slatalla's "I Wish I Could Read Like a Girl" in the New York Times dated 1/1/09

For five months now I have been reading books not just as a consumer of literature but with the perspective of someone who plans to share her thoughts with an audience afterwards.  Of course this affects how I read, just as my goal of sharing my knowledge of children's literature with parents interested in providing their children with a wide range of exceptional books as well as people who just love children's literature affects what I read.  In the world of children's literature, my comfort zone is fantasy written at fourth grade reading level or higher. Occasionally I'll branch out to read historical fiction.  Since I started my blog I've been reading everything at all reading levels in an effort to find superlative books for all ages and tastes and I've had to learn to find the merit in a book that isn't written to my tastes.  I've had to remind myself that I probably am not drawn to the same topics a six year old boy is, but that I have to keep him in mind when I am reading and writing about a book with a main character named Stink.  

Yet, most strikingly to me, I've noticed that I rarely find myself swept up by a book these days the way I seem to remember having been carried off in my childhood.  This thought had been rattling around in the back of my mind and I was thrilled when I opened the New York Times today while I drank my tea before heading off to work and found this dilemma explained for me.  There, in a few paragraphs the always entertaining and insightful Michelle Slatalla, who refers to herself as wife/mother/worker/spy, laid out her reasoning in and article titled, "I Wish I Could Read Like a Girl."  I know, based on your comments, that those of you reading this post ARE readers.  I know that you read kid's books and adult books and just plain lots of books.  I hope you will check out this article and let me know what you think of it.  Aside from loving it and wanting to share it with everyone, these thoughts were stirred up by what she wrote...

Once my family and I were reading conversation cards and the question came up, "Where is your favorite place to be?"  I said that my favorite place would in a personal, not public, library that I imagine it looking something like the Beast's library in Robin McKinley's book Beauty, which I also think resembles the Beast's library in the Disney cartoon.  I would be sitting in a squishy chair with a cup of tea (or coffee) and a pile of good books to read and all the time I needed to read them.  Of course I know this is a fantasy, but after I read Michelle Slatalla's article I realized that, in addition to the luxury of time, which I could actually possess some day, I also wanted the impossible gift of innocence and wonder that I had a young reader.  It makes me sad to know that that era of my life as a reader is over.  I'm sure there will be a time again in my life when there aren't so many demands on me that I can sit down and read, read, read. But, I fear it is true that, as Michelle Slatalla says, "I have formed too many opinions of my own to be able to give in wholeheartedly to the prospect of living inside someone else's universe."  I think that is why I stopped reading adult fiction a few years ago.  I used to tell anyone who asked that I just stopped caring about the emotional lives of fictional adults and now prefer the much simpler lives of the children characters in children's literature.  I see now that it is also because I am too opinionated and set in my ways to be free enough to live in some other adult's world for a few hundred pages.  I can never go back to the beginning and have the eyes of a new reader, but I guess I can keep reading children's literature, which gets better every year, and keep myself in a state of suspended animation somewhere between the two worlds...

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