Monday, September 10, 2007


My child is a reader. Not surprised? Well, some are, particularly, upon their discovery that my child is a young, African American male.

Yes, the same brown-skinned little boy who loves playing basketball and baseball and who appears to know even more sports trivia than the loud mouths he enjoys watching on ESPN'S "Around the Horn" is also a voracious reader.

The boy's taste in literature changes with the season. At the moment his preference leans toward the fantasy and sci-fi genre. Just about every book he brings through the door either has some kind of dragon, monster or sullen faced (Gothic-looking) youngster on the cover.

Periodically, I'll flip through one of his books or ask a couple of questions about what he's reading just to make sure he's not reading up on explosive technology, world domination or anything that might suggest he's considering pulling a Lizzie Borden. But basically, I let him do his thing-- and in much the same manner my parents did for me--without too much hovering or outright interference. Personally, I think it's best that way.

I must confess to being a bit surprised though, upon learning that my son isn't much of a Harry Potter fan. While he appears to enjoy the movies as much as any other kid his age, he's not terribly keen on reading any of the books. Matter of fact, the one book in the series he owned, he recently donated to a book drive.

During the most recent Potter book craze, I tried to convince him to reconsider. I hyped all of the Potter parties and events being held at area libraries and bookstores. I talked about all of the fun so many kids his ages were having dressing up in customes and the like. My son responded with a shrug and said, "Good. I'm happy for them."

Don't you just love/hate it when your kid turns around and hurls some of your own unique brand of snippiness/snarkiness/sarcasm right back at you? "Good, I'm happy for them," is so classic . . . "Me" . . . I couldn't do anything, but laugh.

Actually, I'm kind of proud that my son refuses to bow to popular opinion when it comes to what he ought to or ought not like, feel or do. More often than not, the price one ends up paying in the quest to please others and keep up with the Jones's (or the Hiltons, or Cruises or the Trumps or any of the numerous other La-De, Da-De, Wanna-Be-Somebodies) is the loss of the ability to truly know what makes one happy . . .

So, that's right young man, keep bucking the crowd, the latest fad, trends and bandwagons, especially if you're really just not feeling them. Never be afraid to do you. And always know . . . mama's got your back.

Written while listening to the songs on Rachelle Ferrell's "Individuality (can I be me?)"


Sheila Wilcox said...

I'm glad to learn that your son reads. Especially because he's a African American male. But, did you know, literacy in our nation is extremely low, and some people brag they read only one book a year. Some of our young people have trouble filling out job applications because of the fact they can't read. And this is on the national level which included people of all colors.

By the way, our writing club is having their meeting this Sat. at West Blvd. Hope you can come.

Emanuel Carpenter said...

My 11-year old son (also a male, African-American) is the same way regarding Potter. He loves the movies and video games but won't go near the books. I imagine it's the due to the mere thickness of the books, which can be intimidating. My son's current favorite is the "Captain Underpants" series (which is pretty funny to me too). He still gets his share of more traditional novel reading through his suburban, white bread school. He's currently reading "The Outsiders." (His mom makes him read the Bible daily too.) Of course, he'd rather be outside playing football or inside playing his PSP. That's kids for ya.

Lori said...

Shelia W.,
Yes, it is a shame literacy rates are so low in our nation. But you know what? I really don't assign too much weight to the info about folks only reading 1-2 books a year.

Our lives (kids and adults) are so busy these days. When is there time? While I read more than 1-2 books a year, I still don't read as much as I used to. I doubt if my husband reads a book a year, but he reads tons of newspapers, financial periodicals, stuff on-line, and chapters from different financial texts--both at work and at home.

Thanks for the reminder about writing group's meeting. I'm still undecided, but if I get a chance, I'll email you.

Appreciate your comments!

Lori said...

Ours sons are about the same age, though mine isn't quite 11. My kid told me Potter had too many details.

BUT thickness (or the size of a book) doesn't appear to be an issue for him. This past weekend, he bought INKHEART (by Cornelia Funke). In paperback, this book clocks in at a whopping 563 pages! I would have never attempted such at his age (smile).
In addition, his class had library today and he checked out a Hardy Boys Mystery.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS! Yes, we went through that stage a couple of years ago. Glad that's over with (LOL)! Although, I did kind of enjoy the DUMB BUNNIES, which I think is by the same author (smile).

Thanks for sharing your views.

Trenee said...

I only pray that my future children love books as much as I do! Harry Potter is overrated...but that's just my opinion.

Michelle Davis Petelinz said...

My son was into the Potter books from the time I read book number one to him before bed for what seemed like months. Now that he's 14, he does read for pleasure, though not as much as I did at his age. He's definitely developing his own personality, remaining above the fray of lots of negative stuff he's being exposed to for this first time now that he's in high school...take heart in the fact you've raised yours well, be there for him when he needs you (even when he thinks he doesn't), and all will be well--at least that's what I'm telling myself!

Malcolm: said...

That's cool that your son chooses not to go along with what's hot and instead reads what he likes. Is he familiar with the works of Octavia Butler? Since he is into Sci-Fi/Fantasy, he might want to check her out.