March 7, 2017
I like to think that I believe all books to be created equal. I mean, I’ve read quite a few romance novels in my day, although you won’t find them on my Goodreads profile. So I guess I don’t want you to know I read them. Cat’s out of the bag.
I’m a snob about children’s books too. I’ll admit it. I saw Dav Pilkey speak at the Teachers’ College reunion last spring. I thought he was fantastic. I thought his message was on point. I thought his reasons for writing what he does were perfect. I still couldn’t get through a single Captain Underpants book.
Then I had a student. A third grader who needed to be listened to. A third grader who needed to be encouraged. A third grader who didn’t need my sanctimonious rant about “good books”. A third grader who needed me to remember when the going gets tough, the reading teacher reads romance.
So when this student told me that what he really wanted me to partner read with him was Dogman and that he couldn’t wait to show me the part where they handshake with poop on their hands, I cringed. ( I hope that cringe was on the inside.) He was testing me. He was wondering if I would say, “Oh, no, let’s read something else.”
Ladies and Gentlemen, I did not. I read all 240 graphic pages of dog jokes, poop, people make stupid by spray, the world’s books being destroyed, conflict ridden pages with him. Sorry, Dav Pilkey, I did not love it, but I’m not your audience. My young third grade friend not only loved it, but loved getting me to read it too.
Like Nelson Mandela, I hope that the reading of comics (or graphic novels) will lead to the reading of ‘good’ books. But really what I hope is that the reading of this book and any other book will just lead to more reading of any sort. All reading is good. This book made my young friend think. This book gave us a chance to talk about reading and books… and dog poop. That’s not so bad for a Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday afternoon.
So thank you Dav Pilkey for writing books that many students want to read over and over and over again. Thank you for explaining to me why you write them so I could tell my third grader about hearing you in person and what inspires you. Mostly, thank you my third grade friend for reading with me. It’s good to read with friends.
I am participating in the Slice of Life challenge to write and publish a post every day in March.
Slice of Life is hosted by Two Writing Teachers. I thank them for the community they provide. Read more slices here.