My youngest daughter isn’t a reluctant reader, but she’s no where near a voracious reader either. She loves graphic novels and has read Drama, Smiles, Sisters, and El Deafo each a dozen times. Getting her to read anything else is a struggle. If I suggest it/buy it/encourage her to read it, the likelihood that it will happen is almost nil. I say almost nil because I did show her the Kingdom Keepers series (thanks for suggesting it, Jennifer!) and she read and loved the first book over the course of 6 weeks. She loved it because it tapped into her love of Disney World. She finally finished the book Friday night and it was imperative that we run to Barnes and Noble immediately to pick up the second and third books in the series.
Kingdom Keepers hooked Allison because of the Disney connection. She also loves to watch all of the scary movies her dad and I deem appropriate. I’ll be honest – all the scary movies her dad deems appropriate. I don’t have the stomach for scary movies. She’s also watched many of the Walking Dead episodes and asks her dad for play-by-play recaps on those episodes we won’t let her watch. As I was listening to the full cast version of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (incredible!), I kept thinking about how much Allison would love that book if she would just give it a chance. But how could I make her want to read it without turning her off completely?
Inspiration came to me just before bed one night last week. I was looking at the illustrations in my print copy. Instead of putting it back on the shelf, I walked into Allison’s room, checked in on her while she slept, and laid the book down on her futon. My thought was that putting the book into her line of sight was the most innocuous way to do it. I vowed not to mention it to her at all and hope that nature would take its course. It worked better than I could have imagined!
By the next morning I’d actually forgotten what I’d done. It wasn’t until we were on the way to school that Allison asked, “Did you put that creepy grave book on my futon?” I played innocent and shocked. “No. What are you talking about?” She went on to describe the cover, how interesting the book sounded (she read the flap!), and even become delightfully freaked out by how spooky it was that the book appeared in her room. Before I dropped her off, I couldn’t take it anymore and fessed up to putting it in her room. As much as she likes the scary stuff, she was pretty relieved when I told her the truth. The very best part was that she started reading the book during class that day. She may have only made it to the graveyard with Bod, but she told me just how good that much of the book was. She loved the details about the baby’s diaper falling off on the stairs as much as I did.
It’s been about a week since that “creepy grave book” turned up on Ally’s futon, but I’m keeping my vow not to press her about it. Just as with Kingdom Keepers, she’ll read the book because it ignites her imagination and taps into things she enjoys and she’ll do it in her own time. I’ll be here to talk to her about Bod, his ghostly family, Silas, and Jay Frost whenever she wants to. I’m planning my next step already. I want to listen to the full cast version of The Graveyard Book with her. I know I haven’t reviewed it yet, but man is it good!