What a pleasure to host Jennifer Mook-Sang on Good Books to Share. Jennifer lives and writes for children in a luxurious garret in Burlington, Ontario. She is the author of multi-award-nominated SPEECHLESS, an enormously popular novel for ages 8 to 12. Her picture book CAPTAIN MONTY (who is terrified of the water. Shhh, don’t tell anyone) will set sail in the fall of 2017. In the meantime, Jennifer is working on a follow-up to SPEECHLESS while trying to ignore the siren call of the bag of Cheezies in the cupboard.
Please share about your experience of connecting with books as a child. What positive memories do you have?
I grew up mostly left to my own devices. My parents worked in the shop below our living quarters and books were my constant companions. I still have some of my Enid Blyton adventures, and Girls Annuals. There was a set of books called The Bookshelf for Boys and Girls in our home, a compendium of stories ranging from nursery rhymes, to folk tales and stories from history. I devoured the nine volumes (I recently purchased a replacement set), along with hundreds of comics that my dad let my sister and me buy from the bookstore. One of my favourite memories is a rare quiet evening, sitting in bed with my parents while they read their own books. Dad loved westerns, Zane Grey and Max Brand. Mom read grown-up comics about romance. I loved the cosiness of snuggling beside them and feeling warm and peaceful.
What are your favorite aspects of sharing good books with kids?
From the time they could sit in our laps, my husband and I read to our boys before bedtime. Once, when it was my turn to read, my husband stopped in the doorway to ask me a question. While I answered him, our two-year-old decided that we’d spent too long chatting and hit the book in my hands with a determined fist, demanding, “Wead, wead!” We loved our reading routine. Reading books with my boys gave us lots to talk about, and our best moments were the times we laughed out loud or gasped at the unexpected. We still enjoy sharing books with each other, though I don’t read to them anymore.
Here are a few of our favorite books:
Please share your thoughts on and tips for sharing good books with children.
I think the best way to share good books with children is to leave books in plain view where they can be found and explored. Young children should have free access to books that they can bang with, chew on, and look at. Older ones should have lots of different books and be allowed to choose what they want to read or to have read to them. And, at least once a day, make them sit and read to them, even when they can read to themselves. Don’t stop till they push you out of the door and bar it from the inside. Talk about the stories. Ask questions. Wonder what would have happened if . . . . Reading builds language, empathy, and satisfies the wonder of curiosity.
What about you? What books did you love to read aloud?
Special offer: Comment on this post, and you could win a personally inscribed copy of Jennifer’s novel Speechless. It would make a wonderful gift for that middle-grader on your holiday list. I’ll draw a name from those who comment, and the book will be shipped to the winner’s door.
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Connect with Jennifer:
book trailer: https://vimeo.com/166207543