Once again we embark on the perilous waters of summer reading. Reading age appropriate books is a challenge for my son, but when I must choose from a list of young adult novels, it becomes an active pain because my boy hates reading sad stories. I suppose books for the young have always included the sorrows of real life.
Little Women has a father away at war and a child’s death.
The Treasure Seekers face genteel poverty and Oliver Twist
endures horrors almost equal to The Hunger Games
(he doesn’t have to murder anyone, but it’s close and he’s nearly killed).
But you know the triumphantly happy ending is just around the corner.
The topics of Wintergirls (anorexia), Tales of the Midnight Driver (addiction),
Under the Persimmon Tree (war and refugees) are not only deeply sad but
deeply alien to my boy.
That’s the point of course, to create empathy for those in different circumstances.
But with his degree of autism and his challenges in comprehension, that is not going to happen.
As for happy endings, the realism of these books precludes any but the subdued
“I’ve survived and grown” sort.
I thought I could choose another book, roughly equal in difficulty but gentler in subject,
but instead of essays or projects, the assignment is online questions and conversation.
So no go.
No chance to read Pratchett, or another Dodger book, or Wonderstruck.
So he will be reading Return to Sender (migrant workers), and The Skin I’m In (bullying).
I thought he might choose Beast (retelling of Beauty and the Beast, which he knows),
but he showed no interest.
Our speech/reading specialist chose Return to Sender.
The Skin I’m In seems slightly poetic, short, and relatively mild.
Wish us luck!