Monday, August 08, 2011

The Mesozoic Era, the Middle East, and Hogwarts

July 22, 2011 - the pop-up dinosaur book
"Here, Mummy! Mummy, here! The Mesozoic Era!" she calls to me as she throws the book on my bed and begins the climb up.

Molly is fascinated by dinosaurs and frequently asks me to read books with her on the subject. Last month, I bought some miniature figures to add to her collection. I thought that we could compare our figures to images in the book for the purposes of identification. She loves that idea.

In June -- I think it was June -- we read Mary Pope Osborne's first in the Magic Tree House series: Dinosaurs Before Dark.

It's intended for children aged 6 to 9 years but the information it contains is pretty scant.  Frankly, I can't imagine a nine-year-old being satisfied with it. I know my four-year-old wasn't; thankfully, however, she's still of an age where meaning is found in amazing, unexpected places, and the mechanism of time travel was more important to her. It didn't matter where anyone landed, just that someone left now and went to then.

I enjoyed reading it with Molly. We call it our first chapter book. I'm not sure that it is our first but it definitely was a good time. I ended up having to teach her, and therefore teach myself, about the Mesozoic Era and the different kinds of prehistoric animals. 

We have a book called My First Book of Dinosaurs which she loves -- we get to look at what modern-day animals may have looked like about 65 million years or so ago.

At the local library, we've spent a lot of time mostly playing and reporting the girls' reading for the book club. Most recently, Molly devoured 35 books as I begged for the opportunity to redirect her. I even told her that it was quite a funny position for a mother to be in at a library: Telling a child to go play--i.e.,instead of reading--isn't something you imagine that you'd hear yourself saying.

-- I want to read 500 books and win the contest!

-- You do? That's a lot of books.

-- Is there a contest, Mummy?

-- No.

-- Oh. How many have we read?

-- Thirty-five. But, if there were a contest, we would have won it.

-- Yay!

I think, however, that anyone listening would have taken my side: My throat was hurting and we were far enough from her goal of 500 books, anyway, that pausing wouldn't have affected our progress.

Among those books was at least one title of the How Do Dinosaurs . . . series by Jann Yolen and Mark Teague. So, really, a day without dinosaurs hasn't gone by this summer.

Then, on August 1, as most of my summer nights have unfolded, I lay back and read another few chapters of Almost Dead by Assaf Gavron -- and finished it! Set in modern Israel, involving two men, one Jewish and one Palestinian, it is a mixture of satire and fact that really has my head spinning. It's clever, far more so than I think that I am able to appreciate at this point in my life, and it's so much funnier than I'd anticipated. 

I suspect that once I start to write about this book, it will go on for years: It's that important to me. Yes, but that's it; I won't say anything more about this book until I have sat down to write about it more meaningfully. 

Meanwhile, at Hogwarts . . .

Devyn and Keith are now reading Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince (6th book). I believe I stopped after Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (5th book), so I have no idea what's going on in the series at that point.

Because I'm not part of the Harry Potter book club at home, I asked Keith about his impressions of the reading time that he and Devyn spend together. First, he says, she's "absolutely enthralled" and he is amazed that, at her age (8), she can follow a story so well through six books. She knows the characters very well and understands the significance of plot events.

Each night, before reading, Keith asks her key questions about the prior sitting and asks her to make predictions; he says that she always gives intelligent answers.

What I find most touching is his report that she likes to follow his reading on the page. (Her reading, incidentally, has improved by leaps and by bounds over the past few months.)

Both us of were aware at the outset that the subject matter of the books would be, at times, frightening and mature; Keith says she handles it very well.

She knows the characters and greatly empathizes with Harry.

Though she and I have our books that we plan to read together, I know that Devyn really wants to be at Hogwarts right now with her Dad, so I don't press the issue. Our time to read together again will come, most likely, in a few months.


Many changes are taking place here, on this blog, and some of them are not quite finished .

I plan to re-establish links between book images and the relevant blog posts as well as to create more pages . . .

So, don't mind the dust.

1 comment:

  1. Dinosaurs are a favourite here, with my son! Loved reading about the passion for books that you've shared with your children! I've tried to do the same, I've read to them since they were tiny babies, and now its not uncommon to find them sitting quietly, looking at a book! Your Molly sounds much like my smart, quirky,opinionated,and a strong sense of individuality! Keep writing! I have a blog as well, but it's been a while since I've written...
    (Not sure if you remember me, we met several years ago for a reading, and a home investigation! I've been trying to get in contact with you, if you could kindly reach me at Thanks!)