Raising the Next Generation of SFF Readers

Somehow in the last six years, I have ended up with a six-year old daughter (What?? How does that happen??). When Annabel was born, I remember thinking about all the books I could read to her when she got to this age. When she was six months old, I read Shakespeare sonnets to her, and imagined that she “liked them” (it’s amazing how delusional parents can be sometimes). When she was three, I tried The Light Princess and we got about two chapters in before she declared “I just don’t think this is a book that I like.” These days, though, we have hit a sweet spot. She loves to read, has a fascination with dragons that I can’t help but encourage, and she has really developed a fascination with all things Harry Potter. But as much as I have always daydreamed about these days, there have been some challenges I didn’t see coming.

I get to read all my favorites to her!

So excited to get started!

I can’t tell you enough how great this is. We have read the new illustrated Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and have Chamber of Secrets lined up next. We are in the middle of Ella Enchanted and she thinks it’s the bee’s knees. A Wrinkle in Time was a huge hit, as was Ramona the Pest and Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. I love the incredible imagination she has. She likes playing with the wand we got from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and pretends to fight dragons, and go on epic adventures. She knows the Doctor Who theme song (though she’s only seen one or two episodes), and can’t wait to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I was a little concerned that some of my favorites would seem too old-school to her (it’s 2018 after all!) but so far there’s been no trouble with that.


Sometimes, though, she doesn’t like my favorites.

“This is my angry face.”

There have been a ton of books that I was sure she’d love and she… well… you can see that face. Tamora Pierce, so far, has not been a big hit (but I’m going to try again later). She loves the idea of Neil Gaiman, but is still a little scared after watching Coraline. She seemed to like Little House in the Big Woods, but we hit a dead end with Farmer Boy and I haven’t been able to convince her to return to the series. I don’t want to push too hard – after all, she has a mind of her own, and the last thing in the world that I want is to make her bitter about books. But it would be nice if she happened to love everything that I love. That’s what I get, I guess, for having a child instead of a clone.

She becomes more independent every day.

Reading to her brother. O.O

I know it’s a little early to worry about this, but for real – she gets older and older every day, and I know that before long, she will be done with me and the books that I like and the whole “reading together” thing. So far there’s no sign of that – she loves sitting in the reading chair and reading a chapter or two or three. But she can read on her own now, and sometimes she just prefers that. I’m glad she enjoys reading, and I love it when she reads books to her little brother. But I want her to stay this age forever! I’m not ready for the whole growing up part.

It’s easy to forget that she is growing up in her own generation.

Tablet time

This is the best and worst and weirdest part. The things that remind me of my childhood won’t be the things that remind her of her own childhood in twenty years. Things that I had to learn – like navigating a tablet – are intuitive for her. “Screen time” was not a huge concern for my generation yet, but that’s the buzz word for my generation of parents. How much TV is too much? How many video games are too much? Should we ban screens altogether? Should we take away screen time as a punishment? Her brother already knows all about her tablet and even gives her requests on what shows to watch. I love that technology is so intuitive for her, but sometimes I feel like I’m falling behind and I’m still in my twenties.

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