It happened organically and unexpectedly. It was just over two years ago when my daughter, who adores her grandparents, started reading select passages from Flawed by Cecilia Ahern to my mother - her Grammy. They were passages that really stood out to her. She would share the passage and then comment on them. Then my mother would reply and back and forth they went. It was a live action dialectical journal followed by the tiniest Socratic Seminar. After an hour of this back and forth my mother's curiosity was peaked, so my daughter turned back to page one and started reading the book to her grandmother. The entire book, but they didn't stop there.
In one summer they read, all with my daughter reading to my mother, tons of books. In fact, when I left for NCTE last November they tasked me with a mission. Obtain and ARC of Perfect, the sequel to Flawed, or else. I'm grateful to Flawed because it started what will for all of us be a powerful and beautiful memory that we can hold on to as the years pass. It also proved a few things that good teachers know:
Let children discover the books they want to read.
When children love a book it is contagious. They are the best marketing campaign that there ever has been or ever will be.
Choice begets authenticity.
Time to step off the teacher soapbox and dive back into my proud mother persona. My mother and daughter kept reading book after book. As soon as they finished one they would talk about what to read next. Sometimes they would ask me for a recommendation, but mostly they just asked if I had copies of what they wanted. I was happy doing my small part. They went on to read the first three in the Percy Jackson series. My daughter had already read and reread the series, but wanted to share them with her Grammy. They read the first in the Lois Lane series. They read other books I can't recall, but one series rose above the rest to capture and fascinate their book club of two. It was Colleen Gleason's Stoker and Holmes series.
They tore through the first two, The Clockwork Scarab and The Spiritglass Charade. They were excited for the next adventure. I didn't dare tell them what I was told by the rep in the Chronicle Booth at NCTE in 2015 - the series was no more. She did give me two of the cute Chronicle tote bags, but it didn't un-break my heart. In my heart I didn't want to believe it. I couldn't believe it. We, the readers, were left with a cliffhanger. Also, what about Pix!? What about Pix!! When they finished the third, The Chess Queen Enigma and asked about the fourth I had no choice but to reveal the truth. There was a chorus of disappointment that sounded more like ten and not at all like two. Eventually, we all lost hope.
Then one day while going though my personal email, something I do sporadically, haphazardly, and randomly, I opened Colleen Gleason's newsletter. A fourth it said. Another Stoker & Holmes. The game was afoot once again. I told my daughter about Book #4 that afternoon while wewere making black bean and spinach quesadilla. Well, I was making them and she was haphazardly stirring the rough chopped garlic and beans. In retrospect I should have waited until her "exhausting" task was done because as soon as I told her the news she ran off to text her grandmother. She did not return to the kitchen. I'm sure the combination of stirring and texting and complaining about stirring wrenched every ounce of energy from her body, which is why she never returned, so I persevered for the next 15 minutes on my own.
Perhaps in retaliation for the Great Quesadilla Abandonment, I spent the next several months teasing them about my pre-order of The Carnelian Crow. I told them I couldn't possibly let them have one of my four copies. I explained in a ton of ways that I couldn't spare even one because:
They were for the classroom.
I couldn't wait to promote them as an independent reading option during our Thrills & Chills unit, and 3.
It was going to be amazing when I interspersed passages from the text with our whole class reading of Sherlock Holmes.
They were disgusted. Although, deep down they knew that of course I would give them a copy. Besides, there was nothing to stop my mother from ordering a copy, but as I said, being the book supplier makes me feel a small part of their little book club. I love reading, but more than that I love the power of story to bring people together and the power of story to make memories.