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content is king

I was chatting with a friend the other day, and telling her about Read Aloud Revolution. She has 14 and 11 year old boys. She is smart and with-it, and an excellent parent. She loved the idea and mentioned that she had just stopped reading to her oldest child. They had finished the Harry Potter series and it seemed like a good time to be done.

I thought about this. It never has occurred to me to read the Harry Potter series to my children. And when I go on and on about reading to older children, popular fiction might be the first thing that comes to mind for many of you. We are fans of Harry, and he sort of re-defines popular fiction in this case, as the series is on a fast track to becoming ‘classic’ material. But, in general, we don’t read popular fiction aloud.

My oldest has read and loved all the HP books. He picked them up at age 12 and in one fell swoop, read them all. He liked them so much that he hardly looked up during that little phase. This was long after the HP mania swept the world. He found them on his on time, when he was good and ready. His class had gone to see one of the movies a while back and he came home with a bad taste in his mouth. He said it was too ‘dark’. Roger, that.

The point is this. He read the books when he was ready, and he was wildly entertained for almost three thousand pages. Thank you, Harry, for a fantastic ride.

So we are all about Mr. Potter, but our family reading journey is a very different one, and it doesn’t include any popular fiction.

It certainly could, but it doesn’t. Our choices are fairly calculated. We see it as the very solid tree trunk of their entire education. We are striving, with each book choice, for an experience that will resonate on several levels. It might be historical fiction that brings another time to life with a tale of perseverance and loss. It might cross cultural boundaries and make real the story of a child on the far side of the globe. There may be feats of human will and determination that make us all want to work harder and more deeply appreciate our own plight. Right now we are delving into the sad story of race relations in our country after slavery was abolished in the book Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry. My young son looked at the cover and said, “Dad, I think this one will probably make us sad.”

He’s right and he’s ready.

Most of these books will not be found on the best seller charts.

But make no mistake, they are vastly entertaining because they are so deeply informed by the human condition.

And a 9 year old gets that, if given the opportunity.

We are spending time together as a family, deeply absorbing an important topic, feeling the emotions both awesome and awful that may go with it, and learning at a core level all while being entertained.

Choose your books wisely. This book is going to become a long time family friend and you don’t want just anyone wandering through your life?

We have a list and you’re welcome to it.

Click on the ‘read aloud list’ above and find five titles to get started.

Bon Voyage.