I have chronicled my challenges with Chestnut's timid reading behavior before. For instance when Louis had the webbing of his toes cut. Or when she looked at the cover of On My Honor. Or how the story of a girl and her grandma got out of hand.
But her timidity was reliable, at least. She was scared of most books (don't even get me started on movies). She liked gentle stuff. Realistic stuff. Historical narratives about good little girls—not unlike herself—struggling bravely through tribulations. But the tribulations were never particularly intense, and when they were, there was I, reading as fast I as could ahead—uh huh, horse is scared, rears, looks like it's going over, she's thrown but not hurt, uh huh, uh huh, all good—and letting her know, more or less, what she was in for.
I wonder, still, if this is or was in some way bad for her, but at the same time I sort of feel like: get off my back, world. Or at least, Get off my back, world whose voice of disapproval I constantly imagine. She was scared, OK? She loves reading, but she gets a little too identified and it's tough, that's all. From which you can probably deduce that I, too, am a chicken, too scared to watch all the way through of a Netflixed Watch Instantly episode of Friday Night Lights ("What if he misses? Oh God, I can't watch, tell me what happens"). We're sensitive, ok? Or chicken, if you must.
And while I might grumble and mock (just a occupational hazard of being me), it was OK with me. I wished she would be braver about reading, but I could go with it. I guess I liked the company.
Then about a month ago, Chestnut wanted to bring The Thirteen Clocks in to school. Why? "We're voting as a class on what book we want as a read aloud." What was it up against? The Hunger Games.
"Our teacher wants us to read that one."
"Your TEACHER? What? Huh?" And I thought: oh dear. What will Chestnut do if The Hunger Games wins? But don't worry, I assured myself. It won't win. They're 9 and 10. They're in 4th grade. It won't win.
Guess what won?
I steeled myself. She went in for the first day of the read aloud—and she loved it. And every day since. Last week she asked permission to buy the other books and read them.
"Gee, I don't know, they're supposed to be pretty intense…" (Admission of full kidlit blogger failure: I have not ready ANY of this series. I know. I hang my head in shame.)
"That's OK, I love them."
"But you can get kind of scared when you read…"
"That's when I was little." Complete with a disbelieving sort of huff as in: how could I not know that she was little then? And that she's big now?
"Well, I think it was only a few weeks ago with that one where by mistake the cut the tip off of someone's nose…"
"I'm not scared anymore!"
And just like that, my career as Professional Book Finisher appears to be nearing its end.
I'm not sure if we're buying the books. I think I ought to at least read them first. But wow.
*Why professional? Not because I charge for it, but because I'm so damn good.