“Papa, can you help me find a new book?” The words came from my six year-old. With bath time over over, dinner eaten, and my wife now in the other room with the baby (her story time finished), it was reading time for my two older daughters. My oldest had just settled in with Roald Dahl’s George’s Marvelous Magic, but the second daughter clearly wanted or needed some help. “Maybe a mystery, or something?” she said.
A few weeks back, I had suggested the Cam Jansen (Adler) series, and she had read one of those books. I reminded her of that, but she just looked at me, silently. “You’re ready for something different?” I put the words in her mouth. She nodded, happy with my ability to read her mind in that moment.
I must admit, as a reading consultant, I feel I should be better at this job of recommending books to kids. But although I know I have strengths, I don’t believe this is one of them. I sighed and took a deep breath. Luckily, we own a ton of books, I thought, so we have options. The question hanging in the air, however, was: would she want to read a book we have? “Well,” I began, “there’s the whole witch series by Ruth Chew. What about that?”
Ruth Chew is a little-known author I absolutely adored as a child. Every few weeks, when my teacher sent home book order forms, I would eagerly scan them for the latest Ruth Chew book– mystery books about witches (quite unusual for a boy, I must say!). Although money was not all that plentiful in our family in 1974, my mom always let me buy those books. And I read every one them.
I pulled three of my now old Ruth Chew books down from my children’s shelf. “What about these?” I offered. My six year-old gently took them from my hands. “Give one a try…see what you think.” Nervously, I watched as she sprawled out on her bottom bunk to open The Wednesday Witch. I know not all books resonate the same way with readers… would she like this book?
Silence in the room. I watched her turn the pages.
Then, “Papa, I like this book.”