My daughter turned a year old earlier this month. Watching her personality form is amazing, seeing what she has in common with me and with her father, and how she's different. One of the things she has in common with us is a love of books. Few things get her as excited as pulling a book off the shelf and sitting down to read to her. Of course, her one-year-old's attention span doesn't always allow for finishing the book the way an adult would. We wind up skipping some pages and going back over others several times. She's not ready to handle anything with paper pages yet but she loves her board books. She loves them so much, sometimes she'll lean over and smooch the pictures! It's the cutest thing.
Even before she was born, I started to think about what books I wanted to share with her over the years. I don't know much about books for small children so we're learning about those books together. Eventually she'll be ready for the books I do know and I hope that she'll be willing to give some of them a try.
Thanks to the Harry Potter books by JK Rowling, I already have my little girl's eleventh birthday planned out. Growing up with a writer for a mom, she may pick up things like "world building" and "characterization" and other craft terms and ideas. But with the Harry Potter series, inadvertent lessons will give way to shameless fangirling. The joy and fun of falling into a completely different world, full of magic, creatures both wondrous and terrifying, the bonds of friendship and family, and the power of love - that's what I hope she would take away from those books. And a sense of compassion for both the Neville Longbottoms and the Severus Snapes of the world, because you never know what a person will become or what is truly in their heart.
When I was a pre-teen and teen I read a ton of Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, and Anne Rice. If my daughter ever asks me, what book made you want to be a writer, I'll give her my battered copy of Bradbury's DEATH IS A LONELY BUSINESS. If she ever asks me, why do you take a flamethrower to every clown you see, I'll let her read IT. And when the day comes that she says to me, seriously, mom, what is the deal with vampires, I'll give her THE VAMPIRE LESTAT. (Louis was such a wet blanket I almost didn't read further in Rice's Vampire Chronicles.)
Marion Zimmer Bradley's THE MISTS OF AVALON is high on the list as well. The retelling of the King Arthur legend from the perspective of the women in the tale, particularly Morgaine, is a favorite of mine. Reimaging Morgan le Fay, evil sorceress with no purpose other than pure destruction, into Morgaine, a priestess of the Goddess struggling to forge her own path in the world as best she could, spoke to me in a way that's hard to encapsulate in a sentence or two. The ongoing themes of reconciliation in the book - between religions, genders, the past and the future - also made an impact. I won't force her to read any particular book, even if it is dear to my heart, but I feel pretty sure she'll at least be curious about this one. Except for my private Facebook profile, I don't reveal my daughter's name online, but I will tell you it was inspired by this book.
What genre books are near and dear to your heart that you would love to share with a child/teen? And if you've got recs for books for really small kiddos, please share those titles in the comments as well! I'm always on the lookout to add to the library of my little personal assistant (as I like to call her on my blog).
Sonya Clark writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance with the help of her book-smooching personal assistant who insists on dance breaks as well as snack breaks. Learn more at www.sonyaclark.net.