I love reading to kids. I love to try to guess what books and stories different kids will like. Sometimes my guesses are right, and sometimes they’re way off. And the great thing about kids is that they don’t waste any time in letting you know exactly how they feel about something!
Every now and then, I experience the thrill of seeing a child really connect to a particular book. This happened recently with my 3-year-old nephew. He loves being read to, and he’ll always pick out books for me to read to him. But he had never asked for a certain book before; instead, he’d choose from whatever books were available.
About a month ago, I came across the book Troll Swap by Leigh Hodgkinson. In it, a good-mannered troll swaps places with a “troll-mannered” girl. My nephew’s reaction to it was similar to his older siblings’ reaction to Eloise by Kay Thompson when I first read it to them. In both cases, the kids were fascinated by the displays of bad behavior, but understood that they shouldn’t act that way themselves.
A week after I read Troll Swap to my nephew (three times, at his insistence), I saw him again. As soon as I walked in the door, he asked me, “Did you bring the troll book?” I was delighted. “No,” I said, “but I promise I will next time.” The following week, I read the book to him twice, then I asked him to read it to me. He went through it page by page and told me the whole story in his own words, embellishing it with details from his own life and “lessons” he learned from his parents and teacher (“Now be a good troll and use your listening ears”). For the first time I’d ever seen, my nephew identified each letter in a word for me and told me what word the letters spelled. The word was all caps in a speech balloon: BURP! Hey, whatever it takes to get a kid reading!
Hours later, when we were all going home, my nephew grabbed the book and ran over to me. He said, “Can I take this to my home? Because I love it.” It was one of my favorite moments ever.
Our libraries are filled with wonderful books, and guessing which ones kids will zero in on is my favorite game. What books do your kids love?