Tuesday, April 30, 2013

4 Kids | Interview with 2 Readers

A while back I interviewed my 12 year old niece to talk about books and reading. That was quite a bit of fun.

So I thought I'd do it again. 

Photo courtesy of www.ranker.com
I just spent an hour with two of my favorite 5th graders -- Quinn and Zoe. We had some frozen yogurt with a variety of toppings. Let me try that again: we had a variety of toppings with a little frozen yogurt. But mostly we talked books. And life. And reading. And books. I only wish I could have been half that cool when I was in 5th grade!

I've known Quinn and Zoe for quite a while. And by the way, they're twins. Even before they started visiting the library on class visits, they would come to the library with their parents and older brother (a family of readers, by the way) on a very frequent basis.

Before our meeting, we decided to read 2 books -- R.J. Palacio's Wonder and Katherine Applegate's The One and Only Ivan -- and chat about them. I've mentioned both of these books in earlier blog posts. Applegate's book won the 2013 Newbery Medal, by the way! And I'm quite proud to say that I wasn't wrong about how great these books are; Quinn and Zoe loved them too!

So here's a little recap of my chat with my 2 new BFFs -- Quinn and Zoe.

Me: What did you learn from the book Wonder?

Quinn: Be nice to kids that are different, even if others question you. (In that book, the story revolves around Auggie who is physically deformed and faces many obstacles as he enters public school for the first time as a 5th grader.)

Me: Why the title "Wonder?" What does that mean?

Zoe: People wondered a lot in that book. For example, Jack wondered who he should be friends with.

Needless to say, these girls had the plot down cold. I was quite impressed. So I jumped ahead in my list of questions.

Me: If you were going to write a book for kids your age, what would it be about?

Quinn AND Zoe: We're writing books right now. (Wow!)

Zoe: Actually, our whole family is. (Wow! Wow!)

Me: Tell me what your books are about!

Quinn: I'm writing one about a girl who is an orphan. She really wants to play the piano. But her adoptive parents won't let her play. In fact, they treat her like a visitor.

At this point, Zoe chimed in with further plot descriptions of Quinn's book. I did mention they're twins, right?

Me: And what's yours about, Zoe?

Zoe: Well, it's about a girl whose Dad is taken by the government. In searching for her Dad, she and her brother enter a forest where they meet blue people. And then (gasp) she gets taken by the government too!

I did tell you these are 5th graders, right? Seriously, they're 5th graders! And although these stories aren't completed yet, I'm already waiting anxiously for these young writers to complete their creative adventures. These girls rock!

And now The One and Only Ivan. Remember, this one is about the animals who lives in a "strip mall zoo" off a busy interstate. And it's about a whole lot of other things -- one of the most important being helping out a friend in need.

Me: So, The One and Only Ivan. What did you learn from it?

Quinn: The way we treat animals affects their whole lives. They know. Animals aren't toys to play with and make fun of.

Zoe: We once saw some kids teasing and throwing stuff at a seal on the shore. We called animal control. Animals have their own minds. (I love it! They're readers AND they care about animals!!)

Me: Who was your favorite character in The One and Only Ivan?

Quinn: Stella because she was truthful, helpful, supportive, and not afraid to show her feelings.

Zoe: Ruby because she showed Ivan and Bob not to be afraid of humans.

I hope my new BFFs don't get mad at what I'm about to reveal, but I think you dear readers deserve to know: all three of us cried after reading this book. 

Great books challenge us. They make us think about things we might not have thought about otherwise. And sometimes they dare us to change our minds. 

A few more questions for Quinn and Zoe. 

Me: What does reading mean to you?

Zoe: When I read I get to explore new worlds and meet new friends. (This will come as no surprise, but Zoe's favorite subject in school is Language Arts.)

Quinn: Reading means exploring new things...and just imagining. (Yes! Yes! Yes!)

Both girls agree that the best part of the library is being able to explore all the different types of books...and being able to check them out and READ them. 

Quinn and Zoe have assigned me some reading. No big surprise they want me to read Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth. These books are a HUGE hit with many of my young reading friends. I promise I'll read them very soon!

And together we are also going to read Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. This is a classic book that I love to recommend to readers. I'll say no more about it now. But stay tuned.

I had such a great time with Quinn and Zoe. And I was reminded of some really important things during our afternoon together: Number 1. Reading is a really cool thing to do. Number 2. You have to stand up for what -- or who -- you believe in. Number 3. Spending an afternoon talking about books and life is a really good thing.

Happy Reading, dear readers. And thank you to Quinn and Zoe (and their wonderful parents) for sharing your time with me.

P.S. Don't forget the Children's Book Week contest. Click here for information!



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