Coming of Age: Kids Reading…BLOGS????

As I've mentioned before, for a long time I've wondered just when it is that kids get to adult books. I mean, there have been adult books woven in there for a long time now: Calvin Trillin (perfect), James Thurber, bizarre parenting books. But as with all things child-related, we haven't exactly moved along the linear path I expected. I thought a person might go from board books to Ballet Shoes to The Secret Garden to The Hobbit to, I don't know, Stephen King, to David Lodge (is this making me sound crazy?).

Instead, I watch people go from alphabet books to Nate the Great to the Boxcar Children, back to alphabet books, a mercifully brief foray among books featuring the Olsen Twins, back to the Boxcar Children, an intense Animorphs affair, then Warriors, then too widely varied to really make sense of: fantasy, manga, Cooks Illustrated, the Clique books, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy…and so on.

And then, without warning (or do I mean, with far too much warning but what the heck am I going to do about it?), a new true love: Mimi Smartypants.

I…I don't know what to think. I mean, I love to read Mimi Smartypants. She's funny and smart and interesting, but—as with so many other things in life—I guess I feel like, "This isn't what I expected at all."

I appreciate that the kid has taste. And there wasn't really anything comparable when I was coming up. I was filching Fear of Flying off my mother's bookshelf. And my poor, narrow, only-thinks-of-things-in-relation-to-itself brain doesn't quite know how to make sense of this since I don't have a similar experience. I've watched her build a library over the years, it's just that I never expected her to come up with a blogroll.

Sure it's nice that when she says "Please, please, please, could I just use your computer to look at…" it ends with "mimi smartypants" rather than, say, "cute overload." It's just…I don't know what it just is. Is it that it's so obviously grownup that it freaks me out? Is it a vision of the person she is going to be?

When I ask her about it directly, she says (delightedly) "But she and I have the exact same sense of humor!"

Why can't I get my head around this new reading phenomenon? Do you guys know?

7 thoughts on “Coming of Age: Kids Reading…BLOGS????

  1. I never thought about it before, but Mimi covers the same beat as Erma Bombeck and Shirley Jackson: being a wife, being a mother, working. She’s more relaxed with the language and the sexual references, which would probably upset parents more than kids, but I can see the appeal.


  2. Oh yeah, I loved Erma Bombeck as a kid. I loved reading the paper. It’s the new newspaper, only you customize your own. I don’t know but I just went to subscribe to Mimi Smartypants for myself. (oh god, my child is reading Boxcar Children now. So two years from now is Huffington Post, right? I’m doomed.)


  3. Shirley Jackson wrote The Lottery, his most famous short story, but also two extremely popular books about being a housewife and mother: Life Among the Savages and Raising Demons. The anecdote about everyone being sick and changing beds and the pillow that disappears in the process is hilarious.
    No, Bombeck didn’t talk about hallucinogens. I can’t remember if she talked about drinking or Valium, but they certainly would have suited the material and the time.
    Anyway, to answer the original question, I think it’s often hard for the parent when a child starts reading truly mature content. Maybe it’s harder to accept Mimi than say, The Valley of the Dolls because the references to sex and booze aren’t intended to titillate? They’re just her rather mundane life.


  4. Did Shirley Jackson change genders in there somewhere?
    As for the rest, I guess it’s partly just weird to get a glimpse of a person’s emerging tastes and whole personality. Which is to say, it’s just weird to be a parent. But that’s obvious already, isn’t it?


  5. Ha! Of course, I didn’t see the typo in preview, not until I posted.
    And you’re right: it is *really weird* to be a parent. My daughters surprise me all the time. And apparently it never stops. My mom lives with us, and at eighty she and I are still discovering new things about one another.


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