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October 22, 2010

My Own Private Idaho

Posted by Dana

In today's guest post, Jamie Layton, Regular Contributor and Manager of Duck's Cottage Coffeeshop & Bookstore shares some favorite titles from her "other" book club and shares the joys of reading with your kids.

thewave.jpgI’ve been in and out of a number of book clubs over the years. The past eight years I’ve been a member of (and facilitate) the Duck’s Cottage Reading Group which I thought was my only book club. But recently I realized that I also currently belong to a very select book club with a membership roll of three.

I have been blessed with reading children. My son (16) has been reading years above his grade level practically since birth, and while my daughter (12) came later to the joys of independent reading she’s definitely there now. I myself will read almost anything that passes before my eyes. When the kids were little, I read aloud to them every night- from Sheep in a Jeep to Junie B. Jones and finally (ta-da!) Harry Potter. Then one day my son graduated from having Harry’s adventures read to him to reading them on his own. But I still wanted to find out what was happening to Harry! It wasn’t long before I discovered that part of the enjoyment of these books was being able to talk to my son as a fellow reader.

Now, were I to try and put together a parent-child book club I think both of my kids would run screaming in the other direction and I am definitely not advocating that. The surest way to kill a teenager’s buzz is to take a random, cloud-shaped pleasure and give it walls and boundaries and definition. But there truly is nothing they like better than reading a book that either I have already read or reading a book, loving it and then getting me to read it so that we can talk about it. Charlie and I have been tag teaming ever since the days of Harry- from An Unfortunate Series of Events to the Lightning Thief Series to James Patterson’s Maximum Ride. We fought over the Hunger Games and then Catching Fire at which point Sarah had caught up to us. 

I love nothing better than one of the kids looking up from a book and saying ‘I can’t wait for you to read this!’ Oft times it wasn’t anything I had on my list, but as soon as I hear that statement whatever title it is becomes the next book I pick up. After all, if these are supposed to be the years when you can hardly get your kids to talk to you at least you can use a book as a conversation starter. While Charlie and I both recently read and loved the advance of an upcoming Penguin YA title, Across the Universe, he’s branching out into more non-fiction so we were both also fascinated by Susan Casey’s The Wave. And I love giving him adult titles like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road to get his take. Sharon Draper has been popular with our middle school set lately, so Sarah’s copy of Forged by Fire recently hit my nightstand in a space recently vacated by Pretty Little Liars. She and I have discussed a lot of issues brought up by what we’re co-reading that I would’ve had a hard time casually bringing up otherwise.

This may seem like a lot of reading to keep up with and while that may be its important to keep in mind that a lot of books that take a middle schooler a week or so to get through can be tackled by an adult in a matter of days.  And really the time investment is miniscule compared to what you and your children can get out of your own private book club. I’m hoping to be in this one for life.

-- Jamie Layton, Regular Contributor and Manager of Duck's Cottage Coffeeshop & Bookstore