So, Chestnut (which name will be taking the place of the 7-year-old who
was first called Child No. 2 and then the Younger; the name is her own selection) is someone to whom
reading has not come easily. It's some question of
basic wiring: the idea of letters as symbols of meaning just couldn't
quite come together for her. She still loved being read to, loved
stories, but as we moved through kindergarten and then 1st grade, and
everyone else started to get it, and she still didn't, it began to
really rankle her, leading to a whole series of painful "I hate
reading, I never want to read again, I don't want to hear that dumb
story, I want to build something" sorts of things. A complicating
factor was the ease and earliness with which her older sister (formerly referred to as The Elder, and Child No. 1: now to be called: Diana [also her own selection]) learned to read.
Secretly, silently, without any of us knowing, when she was 3 or 4. We
don't know exactly when it happened, because by the time she let us
know she was doing it she was reading fluently. It was just there, an
It was with real pleasure that we watched Chestnut find books that made
her feel more accomplished, and some of the earliest of these were the
Breyer Stablemates Series.
She loved them, and felt such a sense of ownership about them. This was
great. It really was. And I do get the whole horse thing. I was
obsessed with horses myself, the whole Pinto Appaloosa Palomino thing,
the tack, the stables, the arcane discipline and specificity of all of
But why must these horse books always, always, follow the rigid road of
horse-girl stuff? Meaning, why is everyone white and rich and pretty? Why do
they try to make it seem reasonable that at the end of the book, the
parent will buy the kid a horse (really!)? It just gets somewhat
demoralizing. And I feel like I'm supposed to just be grateful that my
child found a book that spoke to her, but she is willing to hear more
than this—isn't there some way to do both? Books of yore did it; there must be something now, right?
What They're Reading Now
Chestnut: The Ugly Doll Guide
2 thoughts on “Horse Sense”
I just came here through a link by Alice on her site. I couldn’t not visit when I saw the title of the blog, given that the book is one of my favorites.
On the issue of horse books, have you encountered “Me and Katie (the pest)?” I’m pretty sure that they don’t end up buying a horse at the end of that one, although it is pretty mean towards the younger sister, so it may not work for your younger daughter.
I have not encountered Me and Katie the Pest, and it’s not at my library, and it turns out that it’s written by Ann Matthews Martin who wrote The Babysitters Club books, which must mean that she is now a billionaire recluse (if there is any justice in the world). I will keep an eye out for it.