Bedtime Stories, 10-Year-Old Edition

I recently wrote a mawkish post about reading to Chestnut and how it seemed like she was maybe getting done with it, and lo how quickly the years pass, etc. When all of a sudden, Diana started wanting some bedtime reading action.

Now, Diana has been reading her own bedtime books for about 6 years now. She'll appreciate a good read-aloud as much (or more) than the next girl, but mostly she likes to read alongside another person, reciting choice paragraphs aloud as the spirit moves her. Then without warning, this request.

The book? This:


Doesn't it look cheery? Though, to be fair, this is not the cover we have. It's a very goofy book; the central character of the trilogy—this is book two, I believe—is the very full of himself Bartimaeus. There's a lot of the seemingly inevitable snarky dialogue between characters, where toughness (particularly in female characters) seems always to be telegraphed by wise-ass commentary. It's got more than its share of magical creatures. It's got a sense of humor, though it is the sense of humor of a ten-year-old. And rightly so, of course.

My reading this aloud gives Diana a glowing pleasure that it's difficult to convey clearly. She beams over there in the bed next to me. Every time we hit one of the jokes (her favorite is one in which Bartimaeus is razzed for his lame magic-wall-building skills, with a reference to his building the walls of Jericho) she looks over at me as if to say, See? Didn't I tell you? This stuff is gold!

Reader: this is not a book meant to be read aloud. The dialogue gets confusing. The pacing is weird when read aloud. The words have uncertain pronunciations (afrit?). The plot slows down too much. And yet. And yet, I suppose, it is just the exact right thing to read aloud for someone who wants to hear it. There are many books out there that are excellent and can be thoroughly enjoyed by parent and child. This is not one of them. But then again, it sort of is. Because when kids get bigger, and they get so thoroughly captivated by something of their own, it's kind of excellent to be able to get in on it.

4 thoughts on “Bedtime Stories, 10-Year-Old Edition

  1. You forgot to mention all the footnotes! Now that is a read-aloud challenge.
    Still, I’d think the wonderful narrator would take you a long way. I loved this series (well, up to the middle of the last book when it became clear where it was going).
    His latest book, a Viking adventure with trolls, is a lot of fun too.


  2. Since I like to pretend to be 10, I think I need to read this series 🙂 I am glad that the whole read aloud thing doesn’t go away. I was sad when I was reading that in your earlier post.


  3. I clearly remember reading “A Wrinkle in Time” out loud in my 5th grade class, and I always got picked to read the part of Mrs. Whosit or Whatsit or whoever it was who was always breaking into foreign languages, because I had a knack for just picking a pronunciation and plowing ahead.
    I now wonder about reading that kind of thing to kids. My oldest is suddenly obsessed with the Bionicle comic books that come in his Lego magazine (such straightforward advertising, and yet who am I to argue when he wants to read it?), and I have no idea how to pronounce any of these people’s (aliens? robots?) names or where they come from. Still just plowing ahead and hoping for the best!


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