It crazy how positive reading experiences can transport you back into a moment in time. One of my earliest vivid memories of reading was before I entered into 1st grade and began reading on my own. My Mom read to my three younger siblings and I a ton, and one of our favorite books was Piggy Pie by Margi Palatini. My Mom was an amazing read aloud reader. She did the voices for each character and could flow easily through long sentences and made long chapters feel short. It was the beginning of my love for reading.
Flash forward to today. I have my own child I read out loud to (yes we have our own copy of Piggy Pie), whose own bookcase sags under the weight of her amassed book collection. Each book a production of reading it checked out from the library and previously enjoyed, matched based off of previously enjoyed books, or random picks based off the cover or snippets from inside. But each one, reflecting Ana's own personality and enjoyment.
I had been following the homeschool Instagram scene and one Mom in particular who seemed to have her shit together and had an enjoyable style and was down to earth. It almost seemed too good to be true I had thought to myself as I watched her Instagram story and then something caught my attention like a brick going through my window.
She was talking about her kids reading material and as she showed what her kids were reading (classics, obviously), she said something along the lines of...
"We've thrown out all the junk reading, like the Captain Underpants stuff..."
HOLD THE EFF UP LADY.
First of all, Captain Underpants is hilarious, but seriously? You're going to perpetuate the ludicrous idea of 'Good Reading' vs. 'Bad Reading'? Maybe instead of junk reading, there are just junk Instagram accounts...
Sometimes parents have this lunatic notion that there is 'good reading' aka books with no images and prose that make a grassy field vivid and beautiful, but also two pages long, and 'bad reading' which is basically any new, middle grade reading material that has any sort of imagery beyond the front cover. Graphic novels tend to be an easy target for 'bad reading.'
Amy Mascott made a great case for Graphic Novels over on Scholastics Website to help you understand a bit about why the 'good reading' vs. 'bad reading' philosophy is total bogus, but I couldn't believe such a popular homeschooling Mom was putting this out into the world. Didn't she know better?
I immediately hoped that parents with struggling readers didn't see this Instagram story. I hoped that they didn't see this and feel guilt about the content their child was reading and push their children who might be struggling to make a positive association with reading, away from the path they were on. Then I unfollowed that madwoman faster than someone would block a boob bot spam account.
There was a patron at the library I worked at who struggled with reading, but would call every other day to see if the graphic novel he had requested from another library in Michigan had come in yet. When it did, the library was his first stop after school. It wasn't long before that one was returned and a new one had been requested. When I asked my boss about graphic novels, as they were somewhat new to me, she told me
"They get kids who normally wouldn't pick up books to read and bring kids who wouldn't consider a library a place they would want to go, as a destination they now go to a lot."
I can't tell you the amount of friends I have who have never checked out a book for personal reading or even touched a book since high school ended, but I can tell you that there are vast differences in their language and comprehension of written text than the friends and family I have that built a positive relationship with reading.
Because I'm extra weird, I've even noticed a difference in my husbands language patterns and shifts in vocabulary since I had worked at the library and he checked out more Cormac McCarthy. He was way more willing and comfortable with reading aloud to Ana than he had previously been and flowed through pages with better ease.
Was it because he was reading Homer's Iliad or The Odyssey? No. It was simply because he was reading. Period.
So please parents, don't allow a lunatics notion of 'good' and 'bad' books to infiltrate your child's world of reading that that old bat did.