Watching Young Readers Overlap

The boy plopped down and announced, “I’m finished.”  He’d progressed, like a wood chipper, through a set of books his brother had loved and he was now at a loose end.  It is funny to see how the two boys have approached reading very differently.  They both started about the same age, but their choices have led them far afield from each other.

Until they started to overlap again.

First came the data phase.  For one of them it was dinosaurs, the other focused first on vehicles.  Then it was related moves into – fantasy fiction with warring mice, or tank battles and first-hand accounts of soldiers in battles.  As I looked at the covers, it was interesting to see how different some of their choices had been.  Each had been faced with books and some had stuck and others – which I might have read aloud to get them started, or suggested as “this author also wrote” – didn’t.

The younger one is at that stage where his interests are likely to take him towards the path already trodden by his brother.  And yet the interests still aren’t exactly the same, so we’ll be revisiting old authors – perhaps two of my favorites, Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising (start w/ book 2, skip the movie) and Rosemary Sutcliff’s Roman and Arthurian stories – and giving some of them a trial.  It is funny to see the older sibling as expert, offering his own critiques not only of which books might suit, but which ones, in hindsight, are really worth reading.  I’m surprised by those that make the cut.

The common areas are Star Wars, Brian Jacques’ Redwall, game related books like Dungeons and Dragons handbooks or backstory volumes on Dragon Age’s Thedas.  A recent point of agreement was Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell’s Edge Chronicles.

Next up?  Some authors his brother suggested:

And because there is still a real-world, non-fiction itch to scratch, looking at books that, though written for an adult audience, are readable enough for kids.  Ben Macintyre’s World War II books – including Rogue Heroes, which he’s read and enjoyed – are a good example.  I’ll probably suggest Simon Singh’s The Code Book too.  I’m hoping that the “best of” lists at School Library Journal will help me out, as well as other year end lists.

David Whelan

I improve information access and lead information teams. My books on finding information and managing it and practicing law using cloud computing reflect my interest in information management, technology, law practice, and legal research. I've been a library director in Canada and the US, as well as directing the American Bar Association's Legal Technology Resource Center. I speak and write frequently on information, technology, law library, and law practice issues.