Monday, August 29, 2011

Back to the Books

Big Nate Strikes Again

I'm finding it very hard to get back in the blog.
My apologies if anyone's missed this weekly
word of  .  .   . wisdom? Perhaps
screed of struggle is more accurate.
My boy continues to pick up picture books in
preference to others, so I keep looking for a
compromise. Big Nate, like the Wimpy Kid
books, embellishes (or interrupts) its narrative 
with a lot of pictures. Author Peirce alternates
text and short comic strips. The cartoons are sometimes
Nate's thoughts, but not always. This is fine for 
the usual reader, but not useful for a rule oriented
one mainly looking for patterns and word play.
Which makes me think it would be cool to find a book
which always used drawings for the protagonist's thoughts
and regular text for what is actually happening. 
For kids who do not understand that you are not thinking
the same things they are (theory of mind), this could
help make a needed demarcation between interior
and exterior life.
On its own merits (instead of my wish list), 
Big Nate is engaging and accessible.
The fact that it took us half an hour to read
eleven pages of not dense at all text gives you an idea 
of how unfocused my kid currently is about text.
I have known for a long time my son pays
more attention to the page numbers than the
characters and prefers word play and poetry to
the most exciting adventure story. 
But after months of struggling through
summer reading I think that narrative holds no
appeal for him at all. Neither fiction or non-fiction
intrigue him into asking "but why?" or "what happens
Still, after reading Big Nate with his dad, he at least sat
looking at it on his own for a while. He asked about
words while reading it, so the level is fine for him-
an eleven year old sixth grader (!how did that happen?) 
with autism. In general, the book targets the same
audience as Diary of a Wimpy Kid 
with a similar setting (school),
themes (teachers, bullies, sports),  and characters
(underachievers, brains, jocks). 
Completely different wish list idea: 
I'd like to see one of these books with a slacker 
girl, they're either smart and annoying or sweet 
and distant.
Both my boys are remarkably good-looking 
(completely unbiased opinion) so I'd like them to 
have a better understanding of girls than is offered 
by boy kidlit.
I have read them a bit of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Judy
Blume and Cynthia Rylant. 
Anyone have other suggestions?
-Spectrum Mom

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