Talking about books with my kids: that always seemed like it would be one of the gut courses of parenthood to me. Not that I exactly professed to know everything about children's literature, but I figured I had a pretty good grasp, right? I am, first and foremost, a reader, and have been so since I was a kid. I remember Narnia. I memorized the Cat in the Hat.
But not only are there millions of new books out there (which I recognize as a thoroughly good thing), there are whole new freaking fields within children's books. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Fruits Basket.
I give you also a very sincerely grown-up befuddled shrug. How is this the so unbelievably compelling to my child?
I am finding in myself, to my dismay, a deep-seated resistance to the new and particularly the visual. I know many of my smartest friends spent a lot of time with comics when we were growing up, and I am definitely lacking now because of it (try having the whole of X-Men explained to you while you're watching; ditto The Dark Knight). But they don't pull me in somehow. I don't see in the same way that I read; I did, indeed, finish Logicomix, and Diana asked me, "Didn't you like the roses page?"
"There was no roses page."
"There was!" And lo and behold she opened it to the page where Bertrand Russell meets Frege, and Frege is cutting armloads and armloads of gorgeous roses. But what they were saying was something else all together—and that's how I read it. I don't see what's on the page, somehow. I just read through the bubbles and the text bars as if it's a regular book that's been snipped apart, and it's my job to put it together.
And I think I'm missing out. I trust Diana's taste; she has a real feel for greatness. But I don't know how to change the way I read. For me the great thing about reading is that it's unconscious. The idea of reworking the way my eyes and brain pay attention is exhausting even to contemplate. Is it a whole different sort of brain? What does it mean about my kids' brains that they read this way?
Do any of you experience this? Is it just about being old? Of never learning to read comic books (apparently a talent all its own)? Chestnut, too, always sees something in the images that I miss entirely. What am I doing wrong? And do any of you like manga? (And yes, yes: I see the value in my kids having something that is all their own, something that makes their parents say "Huh?" It's just a little embarrassing to be the lame grownup.)