"Can you show the book that you are reading once again please?"..."I have read that one by David Walliams. That's good one. You know what? I am about to start this one," (showing his book for his friend to see. It read Mr. Stink by David Walliams.)
"Yeah, I am liking this one better. I am able to remember the story and it is fun to read," responded the other reader.
"Then you must also try Code Name Bananas by the same author. It is a fun read!"
Spontaneous conversations such as this one help build a culture of diverse reading experiences. Getting recommendations from peers is a lot more fruitful than an adult.
Has Enid Blyton lost her sheen?
Several parents tend to advocate Enid Blyton's books with good reason. They would have grown up reading her writing. Fast forward to today, children's literature has a lot more to offer than adventure stories set in unfamiliar surroundings. Name the interest, there are books waiting to be found.
Enabling conversations about books that children have read and enjoyed in an atmosphere where an adult isn't testing if a child has 'really' read a book, takes the pressure off and paves the way for honest revelations such as,
"I did not enjoy this book by Enid Blyton. It felt like one person kept talking and talking and there were no funny pictures. But the book Grandpa's Great Escape by David Walliams has been fun to read and the illustrations are funny!"
"My mom got me an Enid Blyton book- The famous five series, saying that she read it when she was growing up. But I could not finish it. I wanted another book in the Tom Gates series, but she said that I need to finish reading the Enid Blyton book first. I guess I am not going to get the new Tom Gates book after all."
"Enid Blyton is not bad at all. Infact I enjoy her writing. I just finished reading Mystery in the Holly Lane. I had an inkling of who the culprit could be but the author in her classic style diverted my attention to another character! It is easy to fall into that trap but it is very satisfying to know that I was right all along. That rarely happens in the books that I read."
Recognising that different readers can have different reading experiences...
Here is another interesting revelation though not related to Enid Blyton,
"I don't like the Diary of the Wimpy Kid. What sort of a book is it? There is no starting and no end? Instead I picked up Mahabharata by Arshia Sattar and I am enjoying it."
Reading and discussing a book together
One of the characters in the book has a grandma with dementia and feels sad that she does not remember his name and always calls him 'kiddo' which she uses for others too. While some of the readers felt sorry for this character and said they could understand what it must feel like, another reader set them thinking. He said, "Dementia is a common problem among the elderly. Instead of feeling bad that she doesn't remember the name, he must help her cope with it. That is true of us as well."
Books enable children to discover new worlds and accept emotions as normal. Discussions that enable a melange of perspectives helps children to take in the big picture and above all listen to what others have to say rather than confine themselves to their own preconceived notions.
Discussions also allow children to ponder about different aspects of a story. For example one of the batches were reading Moin and the Monster by Anushka Ravishankar. They couldn't help wondering why Moin's father would spend so much on buying lots of bananas. "If one must do something for charity, aren't there other ways?" was a the question raised. A fan of this book was quick to defend the author by saying that these character traits, being out of the ordinary, helps bring humour to the book. The discussion continued with the group analysing the resulting impact on the reader.
Reading together brings to the table new perspectives
Talking about the impact on the reader also helps bring in the reader perspective when children write something. It makes them take a second look at their own writing to make sure what they have written has a favourable impact on the reader.
Reading alone is great, it is a getaway from many avid readers. Talking about books that young readers have enjoyed paves the way for making reading a social activity and a great place to find good book recommendations.
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