Easy Reading

There’s a saying that I used to hear all the time in the daughters’ elementary school library. “Easy Reading Makes Reading Easy.” Pleasure reading for kids should not be a chore or a challenge. Kids should choose books that are at their reading level so that they don’t get frustrated. To create life-long readers, you’ve got to keep reading a positive experience, both with content and with reading level.

At the library where I currently volunteer, they preach the five finger test. Books should be “just right, not too hard, not too easy.”To help decide if a book is just right, the kids are encouraged to open the book to any page and start reading. They should use one hand to count every word they come to that they can’t read or that they don’t understand. If they get to five on one page, then the book is too hard for them right now. I’ve passed that rule along to shoppers at the bookstore. Parents say, “ooh, good idea” and kids look at me like I’m crazy.  

All that being said, I’ve run off a streak of easy reading myself. It started with The Bullpen Gospels: A Non-Prospect’s Pursuit of the Major Leagues and the Meaning of Life by Dirk Hayhurst. The title pretty much sums up any review I might write. Lovers of the game will enjoy this, even though it has more to it than baseball. I actually really enjoyed it, but I don’t think it has wide spread appeal.

Then I read Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall by Wendy Mass. A teenager has a coma-inducing altercation with a dodgeball in gym class and she revisits some pivotal events in her life ala It’s a Wonderful Life. It was a bit too light for my taste. Although marketed for teens, it probably appeals more to 10-12 yr olds.

The selection for book club this month was Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne duMaurier. I thought I might be diving into real literature, but not so much. It was more of a grand adventure tale of a society lady who flees from her unsatisfying life in London and finds her soulmate in a French pirate who is raiding the English coast. It was entertaining, but not particularly satisfying. The bookclub discussion was actually better and longer than I had expected.

Finally, to keep my run going and to fulfill another reading challenge task requirement, I scanned the stacks at the library for a book with a pink cover and selected Manhunting by Jennifer Crusie. Pretty much all the pink covers were romances, this was no exception, but it looked funny, too. I think there is a reason why I couldn’t find any pink covers in all the TBR piles around the house.

So that’s a quick rundown on what I’ve been reading lately. None of which deserve a Book Thoughts entry of their own. Satisfying to get tasks completed in the challenges, but easy reading also seems to lead to mush-for-brains. Time to dig into something meatier!

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