Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Why I'm Thankful for Realistic Fiction

I have lots to be thankful for this holiday season. Friends, family, nice writer people. And hey, no one cried during touch football this Thanksgiving! Did I mention that I have no reason to go to Toys 'R Us this year? That's huge.

My kids are getting older, and while that can be bittersweet, one thing that happened over Thanksgiving weekend made me really happy. After spending black Friday shopping with my almost 14-yr-old (her first time), we still had enough energy to go out on Saturday. She asked to go to the bookstore. Wait for it - then she asked me to help her pick out some books in the young adult section (ok, so they were books she wants me to buy for her birthday, but still). As a librarian for all her life, I've brought many books home for her. Some she's read, some she's had no interest in. Some she even laughed at when I tried to read them with her.

The one constant in her reading life has been realistic fiction. One of her favorites as a child was the Art Lesson by Tomie DePaola. Real enough kid, real school situation. She loved Junie B. and Cam, even Emma and Alice. She usually doesn't select books with magical anything, even going so far as to sneer at the suggestion of Harry Potter. When she was in 4th and 5th grade, she went through what I like to call, her Cupcake period. I spent a good amount of time finding every book that had anything to do with cupcakes. Cupcake stores, friends who sell them, how cupcakes brought the family together, etc. If it was written about a cupcake, she read it.

She's had to veer off the realistic path on occasion, for school mostly. At one point I worried that she wouldn't physically be able to read a book that was fantasy or science fiction! But I love that she loves realistic fiction. That this sometimes quiet and shy girl finds answers to situations in her own life in the lives of these characters. It reminds me how many of us of a certain age devoured Judy Blume books like it was our job.

So thanks to all you writers of realistic fiction. Thanks for books void of wizards and space travel, mermaids and fairies - Wait! She did go through the Daisy Meadows fairy books at one point. Maybe there is hope she'll expand her reading repertoire after all. But if not, that's okay. What I really hope for is more days spent with her in the book store or library, quietly reading jacket flaps and checking out displays, maybe getting coffee drinks after.

Oh, and if you're interested, here's what she selected:

                     A maybe on this one.