Sunday, January 25, 2009

TSS: Dickens vs. The Boy

The Sunday Have you entered my giveaway of Ranger's Apprentice? I read chapter one this morning and even though I haven't read any of the other books, I could jump into this one easily. Drawing will be Tuesday. Enter here!

My reading of David Copperfield has had a major slowdown these past couple of weeks (last Sunday I was too busy to even write a Sunday Salon post). I'm now on page 200, which means I've read a whopping 30 pages since two weeks ago.

I'm in an awkward situation, you see. My dear, sweet 12-year-old boy has now decided that he's not as interested in dragons and magic anymore. He wants realistic contemporary fiction, preferably, as I believe I've mentioned in a previous post, with skateboarding.

Here's the thing: Fantasy that's appropriate for a pre-teen boy? Our library's shelves are practically exploding with them. We have reading lists and brochures and librarians who have been asked the "I finished Harry Potter, now what?" question for years. It's been ages since I've felt the need to pre-read Ben's books.

Realistic fiction appropriate for a pre-teen boy--with skateboarding, even--is there, too. We've found some great ones. But you can't just pull it off the shelf and hand it over, or even go by reviews online. Take Nick Hornby's YA novel, Slam. No explicit sex or anything R-rated, and it has skateboarding in it, but it's a book about a 15-year old who gets his girlfriend pregnant. Teen pregnancy...let's just say, it isn't in my son's top 1000 topics of interest right now, and I'd like to keep it that way for another year or two. As soon as he gets his first girlfriend, though, Slam will be back on our bookshelves immediately.

Paranoid Park and Sk8terboy are similarly not quite the right fit for my boy, for different reasons (PP is pretty gruesome and because it clearly takes place in our city, I feel like the lines between fiction and fact will be worrisome for Ben) and Sk8erboy is basically a girl book with a skateboarder as romantic interest.

Professional skateboarder Rodney Mullens has an autobiography out. Mullens seems like a decent guy, but who hands over a celebrity memoir to their 12 year old without reading it, too? So far it's been fodder for discussion about peer pressure, male anorexia, and the difference between dedication to an activity and obsession with it. I'm skimming like mad to keep ahead of the boy. I'm happy for him to be considering these ideas, but not without my input.

All this in the way of making excuses for myself. I haven't been reading my Dickens because nobody keeps handing it to me and asking if I've decided yet whether he can read it.


  1. Here, Ali, here's your book; I challenge you to read 30 pages THIS WEEK. Make it 50, humor me.

    Then kick me right back if I don't get 6 books completed in this month?

    I'm sorry I don't have any skateboarding books appropriate for an 8 yo to rec.

  2. It's a deal, Care! I made some headway last night before I started reading with my eyes closed.

    (Btw, the skateboarding books don't have to be appropriate for Evan, just for Ben--though books appropriate for an 8 year old are even better since then we could read them aloud together).