Monday, April 23, 2018

What Are the "Right" Kind of Books for Children?

I recently got back from a book festival in Hattiesburg, MS at the University of Southern Mississippi, the Fay B. Kaigler Children's Book Festival. It's my favorite thing to do all year, professionally speaking, and this was my third year to attend. They have been hosting this book festival for more than fifty years, and if you are a school or public librarian, an author, or really any kind of children's educator, it is a phenomenal professional development opportunity. My public services supervisor (think floor manager for public libraries; she's my right hand in managing the department) nailed it perfectly when she referred to it as "a tent revival for children's librarians." It's joyful, energetic, passionate, and just fun. Lots of people bonding over a mutual love of building literacy in children, and discussing the hurdles and pitfalls that we commonly see.

Anyway, this year the primary speaker and USM Medallion recipient was Dav Pilkey, who is best known for his graphic novel chapter books, Captain Underpants and the newly released Dog Man books. His books are contentious among parents and educators, but librarians almost universally adore them, because kids love them and can't seem to keep their hands off of them. Kids pleading to read a book, ESPECIALLY tween boys? I'll take it!

Something that Dav Pilkey said in his speech, which discussing the difficulty he had as a child with ADHD in developing a love of reading, was that there has always seemed to be this prevailing theory that in regards to reading, there is an educational equivalent to junk food. That some books aren't "good enough" for kids to be reading. Or magazines. Or graphic novels. Or comic books. You get where I'm going with this. 

I could go on a huge diabtribe about this, how much I agree with Mr. Pilkey, but the best way I have found to explain it is this: 

If your child or children are currently being educated (whether public, private, achievement, charter, homeschool, whatever), then guess what? Your child is reading, and is presumably reading books at the correct grade level, or is working up to the correct grade level. 

Do you want to encourage your child to continue to read and gain the skills to read at or above grade level? If your answer is yes, then what you need to do, rather than force them to continue reading those things, is first help create a love of reading in your child

If your child loves to read, then they will read, whether they like the books the school (and others) are pushing or not. In order to grow a child who loves to read, however, you have to allow that child to read what he or she enjoys. It doesn't matter if you don't understand it, or think that it's quality literature. If they enjoy reading it, then they will grow to love following the journey of the book. They will start to appreciate following a narrative from beginning to end. They will allow themselves to fall in love with stories and characters, and that creates a lover of reading. 

Once you have a reader, then start quietly encouraging them to read more books on their grade level, in addition to the books that they enjoy reading. Not in place of them. In addition to them. Find the characters or genres they enjoy, and seek out books on their level that have similarities. 

Obviously, this works best if you are starting this process with your child at a very young age. I have a 7 year old first grader, who LOVES to read. He is currently reading on an almost fourth grade level. Guess what he loves reading more than anything else in the world?

Dog Man

Yep, he can't put the books down. He laughs out loud, pours over the pages repeatedly, spends literally an hour at a time reading. Think about that. A 7 year old boy. Reading. FOR AN HOUR. 

Guess what his second favorite book is?

Charlotte's Web

That is a classic, 3rd-4th grade level chapter book that he has read twice now (the first time was the summer after he finished kindergarten, because he teacher loaned it to him to read over the summer. We've since bought him his own copy). He reads it on his own, he asks us to read it to him. He loves the story and the characters. I have a child who loves to read, and it's because I don't place boundaries on what he reads. I encourage it. As a result, when he has a book to read for school, it isn't a fighting match to get him to read. The conversation is more like this:

Me: "Son, do you have any reading homework due this week?"
Him: "Oh yeah! Let me go do that."

Then he scampers off and does it. No complaints, because he likes to read, even if he doesn't love the subject matter. (Note: he doesn't really like social studies, which breaks my heart because my degrees are in history, and that's what he's primarily reading for school. However, even though he doesn't have the passion for it, he never balks at reading it. He just does it, then gets back to whatever else he was doing. I can't say the same thing for other forms of homework he has, like math sheets and grammer pages. No problem with the reading though.)

There's a reason that there are now graphic novelizations of popular books like Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series and the Kane Chronicles, A Wrinkle in Time--even the Babysitter's Club books that I grew up with! Just because a book has pictures does not make it any less valid or valuable as an educational tool. So don't discount graphic novels. Don't brush off comic books, or magazines. They too help build literacy, just in a different format, and they allow children to become engaged in a character or scenario that they can then visualize. Sometimes kids need help visualizing characters on a page before they learn how to visualize them in their minds. There's nothing wrong with that. 

Trust me, if you do this, you'll see the growth and critical thinking skills develop right in front of your eyes, and you'll be glad you supported them instead of shaming the things that they love. Don't unwittingly make your child or students think that there is something wrong with the things they find interesting and engaging. Talk to them about what they like to read, and encourage their excitement, no matter the format. Let your kids read what they love. After all, as Dav Pilkey also said in his address: "More than fifty percent of the people who read Young Adult books are over the age of 25. If no one is shaming adults for reading below their level, then why are we doing it to kids?"

Friday, April 20, 2018

Very Short Book Review: "Aru Shah and the End of Time" by Roshani Chokshi

Image result for aru shah and the end of time


I am a children's librarian. I read middle grade fiction all the frickin' time. I am a respectful reader of Rick Riordan's books because I'm a very big fan of Rick Riordan, the man. I would not call myself a fan of his books (please don't lynch me or hate me, I did enjoy the Magnus Chase and Kane Chronicles series'). However, all that being said....


I almost NEVER have visceral reactions to books. This one made me laugh out loud numerous times. I found myself feeling real empathy for a character of questionable motivations and nightmarishly (is that a word? spellcheck doesn't think it's a word) awful coping mechanisms. I completely fell in love with a mystical, and 100% sentient, palace (who suffers from abandonment issues and has occasionally murderous fits of rage for completely understandable reasons). Not to mention that the heroes aren't heroes at all--they're HEROINES. Pandavas that are, for once, reincarnated into the bodies of GIRLS. TWEEN GIRLS AT THAT. 

Lord. Read this book. If you have tween or teen daughters, read it with them. So many solid messages and so much to learn about life and friendship and consequences, good and bad. 


The funniest moment of the book for me personally (because again, I'm a children's librarian):

"That reminded Aru of the mom at school who'd gotten banned from the library after tearing out certain pages in books just so her kid's rival classmate couldn't do his research. (The librarian had screamed, Book murder! And now all the parents were scared of her.) Indra probably would have approved of that kind of sabotage."

Also, the visual image of a twelve year old girl, with glasses, hurling a pebble at a cauldron full of poison, while yelling, ""For science!!!" just about did me in.

If you read this book, DON'T SKIP THE GLOSSARY! The section where Chokshi explains who Brahmasura was in Hindu mythology is worth the read alone. When the GLOSSARY of a book makes you laugh out loud--that's a damn good book. 

I understand that Paramount Pictures just procured the movie rights to this book, and I have one word for them--DON'T PULL A PERCY JACKSON ON THIS SERIES. 

Or a bunch of librarians and tween readers will find a way to sic Shiva on you.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Compulsive Readers--what do you do with them?!

Another problem/question that children's librarians deal with regularly:

My nine year old reads voraciously, and is going through four or five books a week. She wants to read things that I'm seeing in the Young Adult section. I'm not worried about the reading level, but I'm concerned about the content. What should I do?

I refer to these children as Compulsive Readers. I identify with them, because I was one. Still am. Compulsive Readers regularly bulldoze their way through five- and six-hundred page books in a matter of days, walking around with their noses stuck in books like strangely literate zombies. They often have stacks of books that they are in the middle of, with haphazard, makeshift bookmarks hanging out at all angles, and are not bothered at all to put down one book and immediately pick up another, often without breaking stride.

Image result for quitter strip bookmark

It's often as difficult to keep Compulsive Readers engaged as it is Reluctant Readers, because they just go through books so fast. If you don't have readily available access to a library (either public or school), you're going to end up with one of two problems: either the child loses that passion and moves on to the next thing that grabs their attention in our digital world, like the internet or video games; or you find yourself spending a whole lot of money in bookstores. That was my parents' struggle.

Being exposed to inappropriate content is a major factor when you have a compulsive reader. By the age of 10, I was barreling through my mother's collection of Danielle Steel romance novels, because I had run out of age-appropriate books to read and my parents just did not have the money to buy me three new books every week. At 11 years old I read Gone with the Wind, and I remember sitting in driver's ed classes when I was 15, ignoring all the lectures and gory videos, because you want to talk about violent deaths? I was midway through Victor Hugo's Les Miserables. 

For Compulsive Readers, the key is finding books that are going to challenge their minds and imaginations, without falling into material that they may not be ready to be exposed to yet, psychologically. 

I have been doing a lot of work in the last year, reading fiction books that reach out to these two groups. Reluctant Readers and Compulsive Readers. I admit that I focus more on boys than girls, in large part because boys aged 8-12 years old are most likely to be your reluctant readers and are the demographic that we (as librarians) are going to lose. However, I just can't seem to resist picking up those huge tomes of books in the children's section that appeal to Compulsive Readers; they KNOW that this 600 page book is at least going to give them something to sink their teeth into, and characters that they can really fall in love with. As I said in my post on Reluctant Readers, I tend to focus on series books because of that factor, so here are some options for Compulsive Readers, that are age appropriate for 8-12 year-old boys and girls, content wise. This partial list is primarily what is new and popular (in the last decade or so) but there are a few guaranteed classics included as well:

Harry Potter, Books 1-4 (books 5-7 are usually considered YA) by J. K. Rowling
The Books of Beginning Trilogy by John Stephens
The Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger
Fablehaven by Brandon Mull
Five Kingdoms by Brandon Mull
School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani
The Copernicus Legeacy by Tony Abbott
Anything by Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, The Kane Chronicles, etc.)
The Seven Wonders series by Peter Lerangis
The Missing series by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Guardians of Ga'hool by Kathryn Laskey
Warriors or Survivors series by Erin Hunter (et al)
The Dark is Rising sequence from Susan Cooper
The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place by Maryrose Wood
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Stewart

I hope this helps give some direction, and some options that may not be as well known to parents of young readers. There are also wonderful stand-alone authors to consider, such as Gordon Korman, Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, Lois Lowry, Lloyd Alexander, R. J. Palacio, and Roald Dahl. 

The important thing to keep in mind, as I stated before, is that there is a difference between a child's reading level and their comprehension level. As much as I love the Divergent and Hunger Games trilogies (and OH HOW  I LOVE THAT SERIES), and as much attention as is paid to the Twilight and latter books in the Harry Potter series', they can be very challenging to handle EMOTIONALLY for most children under 12 years old. They can also contain subject matter that some parents might not feel prepared to tackle with their children until they are a little older. For what it's worth, my 6 year old is in kindergarten, but is reading on a 4th grade level, and comprehending on a 3rd grade level. That doesn't mean he's mature enough emotionally to tackle those books and their messages, without some assistance. So we choose chapter books together carefully and we read them and talk about them together. I  do still give him early readers to gain speed and reading independence, because that's how those skills are built. Even compulsive readers need motivational material!

Still struggling to find something? Go talk to a librarian!

PERSONAL PREFERENCE: I'm a huge fan of the Fablehaven series, and it was originally the one I was going to write about, particularly as Brandon Mull is preparing to release a sequel series to Fablehaven called Dragonwatch (CAN'T. WAIT.) However, I have to admit that Shannon Messenger's Keeper of the Lost Cities series is one of the most exciting things I've read in a long, long time--even as an adult! This series has wonderful, complex characters, rich worlds--elves, ogres, gnomes, humans, among others--and elements that are both deeply human and hilariously fantastical. Messenger has created this sweet, stubborn, independent character in Sophie, a girl who discovers she's an elf after being raised among humans. That's just where the mystery begins however; she has a great number of secrets complicating her existence. I find Sophie absolutely endearing and terribly real; she sleeps with a stuffed blue elephant every night, and tugs out her eyelashes when she's nervous. Her friends in this world are as deeply human as they are elvish. Messenger provides the perfect boy; his gorgeous, equally perfect sister; the complicated, mischievous troublemaker (Keefe, my favorite!); the techy nerd with a sensitive, sweet heart. Along the way you meet under-served communities, see intolerance, and are introduced to adults (parents, educators, politicans, leaders, rebels) that are loving, supportive, flawed, prejudiced, and that live in an imperfect and uncertain society while coping with their own trauma and scars. There's mystery, action, adventure, humor, magic, just a hint of innocent romance, and an alicorn (pegasus + unicorn) named Silveny that poops glitter. There are currently 5 books in the series, and OH how I hope Messenger doesn't plan on stopping anytime soon!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Reluctant Readers: growing readers in an increasingly digital world

I manage the children's department of the main library in my city, so I spend a lot of time talking and working with kids, mostly ages 12 and under, as well as parents, teachers, and caregivers.
I'm using this forum to introduce a series of blog posts to help parents, caregivers, educators, fellow librarians--anyone who is interested--in building literacy skills for children.

This post is going to specifically address reluctant readers in the older elementary grades. I'm looking at primarily 3rd through 7th grade students, but the reasoning and methods I use to help a fourth grader is the same I use to help a kindergartener or a high school student. Literacy is more important now than it has ever been, and addressing literacy needs in our communities is a focus that is evolving and reinventing itself with every new technological innovation that appears.

So the question that I get no less than four times a week is:

My child doesn't like to (or won't) read. How can I encourage him/her to read without feeling like I'm pulling teeth?

No matter how much you would like for it to be, the answer is never just thrusting a book into the hands of a child. You're gunning for failure if you try. It isn't about what books you like, or what you think is good for them, or what you think they should be reading at a certain age or in a certain grade. It's about what THEY like, what they WANT to read, and what they are CAPABLE of reading.

These children are Reluctant Readers. They've likely never been exposed to books that speak to them at their level or engage their imagination. Maybe they come from a home where reading for pleasure isn't a priority. Contrary to popular belief, that's FINE. Not everyone is passionate about reading! However, reading is fundamental to success in building critical thinking skills at a young age. Since children are required to read for school, they will struggle to understand the importance that reading has in their success in school (and beyond) if they don't have support at home. Seeing family members reading reinforces the importance that literacy has in the home, as early as infancy. So if this is your family, consider picking out a book to read together, as a family. Make the book choice as a family. It can be a picture book, non-fiction book, chapter book--the purpose is to read and think and discuss what your reading. There's no right or wrong to it. Refresh your memories about what happened the last time you read or in the previous chapter. Talk about what you're reading now or what is happening in the current chapter, and discuss what you think might happen next if that's possible. This requires setting aside regular, committed time, and while it doesn't have to be every single day or for an extended period of time, it does have to be consistent. Just remember--if you can set aside time every day or week to watch a particular show on television or Netflix, then you have no excuse for not setting aside that same time to do family reading. If you can do this with your readers when they are young, you're much less likely to have a reluctant reader on your hands.

What do you do if you already have one, though? Think about and try to understand why they might not be interested. For example, a lot of children only read what is required of them in school, which (let's be honest) is quite often not fun. I was always an avid reader, but after reading Great Expectations in the 8th grade, I refused to read Charles Dickens ever again. To this day, I still cannot stand his books. So I LITERALLY FAILED one quarter of English every single year from 9th through 12th grade because I refused to read Dickens. Now, I made it up during the quarter we spent on Shakespeare, which I loved and always aced, but it shows a point that many adults forget when trying to get a child to be excited about reading. Kids are every bit as stubborn and opinionated as adults. They know what they like and won't they don't, so don't discount that when you're looking for things that interest them.

Some children don't want stories at all. If you have a kid that is constantly link-clicking through Wikipedia online, you've got a realist on your hands! Fiction or storytelling isn't going to be their thing. Nonfiction has a dedicated audience all its own, and you can't pay a child who loves science to read a fiction story about goofball kids making trouble in their school or home.

Or can you? After all, most required reading in school is fiction, and they have to read it in order to get through the class. So how do you bridge that gap?

Take advantage of your public libraries or school libraries; get your kids their very own library card and encourage them to check out multiple books at once. If they only check out one book, they might read four pages of it, not like it, and then not pick it up again. If that's the only book they took home, you've put in valuable time but your child still isn't reading. Let them check out four or five books. It's okay--they're free!

For Reluctant Readers, the key is motivational material. I'm talking about books that are fun, quick, and sneakily get kids to read an actual chapter book, from beginning to end. The goal is to make readers comfortable and able to follow a narrative, understanding the critical steps that advance the plot, all without the readers realizing that's what they are doing. Here are some good examples of motivational books (and these are just a few!):

Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Combination illustrated/chaper book)
The Magic Tree House
Dork Diaries (Combination illustrated/chaper book)
Junie B. Jones
Amulet (Graphic Novels)
39 Clues
Bad Kitty
A to Z Mysteries
Infinity Ring
Big Nate (Easy Reader, Chapter Book, Graphic Novel)
A Series of Unfortunate Events
Fancy Nancy
Nick & Tesla
Who Is...(Who Was...) (Nonfiction, biographies)*
I Survived...*
Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales*

Note that the books I listed above are, for the most part, series books. Of course there are motivational books that are stand-alones, such as Wonder, The Giver, and most anything by Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary. I simply chose to go with series books for this blog because most children get very attached to characters. The paperback series aisle is the most popular section in the children's department at my library. For those lovers of non-fiction that I mentioned earlier, the titles listed above that have an asterisk are good examples of either nonfiction books, or fiction books based on real events or people. The I Survived... series is a fantastic example of one way that you can bridge the gap between fiction and non-fiction reading.

{Stepping up on soapbox}
Okay. I'm going to deal with the elephant in the room right now. YES. Graphic novels are completely legitimate forms of reading and are an excellent choice for reluctant readers. I will go further into this in a future blog, but for the purposes of this one, remember that children who don't like to read are often just overwhelmed by the size of a chapter book. All those words are intimidating! Once a child has decided that they are just not going to be capable of reading a book that size with that many words, you aren't going to break through to them without a lot of difficulty and angst. Graphic novels break up all of those lines and make the whole process seem far less daunting.

Additionally, it's worth noting that children now live in an age where everything is digitized and dramatized--television, movies, video games, cartoons. Almost from birth, we know how to follow a plot through from beginning to end, even if all you're watching is a 20 minute episode of Bubble Guppies. Most children haven't made the connection that reading isn't all that different from watching television. They are following a plot and seeing it play out, except that it's in their mind instead of watching it unfold in front of them. Graphic novels help readers become more comfortable with the very idea of chapter books. They teach a reader how to follow a plotline from beginning to end, and they serve as a soft bridge into the world of chapter books. I will address this in more detail in a future post, but I'm going to leave that alone for now.
{Stepping down now}

Other things to think about with reluctant readers. Consider the format of the book you're asking your child to read. Books come in hardback, paperback, trade-paper (flexible covers that are larger than your traditional paperback books), digital (e-books), and audio formats. For reluctant readers, I highly recommend either audio books or paperbacks.

Now I know what you're going to say, and I feel you. I realize that hardback books are more difficult to destroy than paperbacks, and kids are HARD on books. The simple reality is that while hardbacks hold out longer, they are also more intimidating. Kids who are already resistant to reading chapter books are going to have an easier time swallowing the idea of reading a thin, paperback copy of Mary Pope Osbourne's The Magic Treehouse series, than the MUCH larger, though identical, hardback version. As a librarian, and as a manager, I'd rather have a shelf full of beat-up looking paperbacks that have clearly been read and loved on repeatedly, and have to be replaced more frequently, than a shelf of hardback books that look pristine and untouched.

Books in audio formats are an invaluable asset to those students that struggle with processing or cognitive disorders, visual disabilities (books in braille are difficult to come by for most libraries!), or students who just have a hard time navigating through words. I know at least four librarians that have dyslexia, and all of them have said the same thing about audio books. Listening to the book, while reading along with the audio, helps students follow along and become used to how words are ordered on the page. Plus, audio books are great options for long car rides!

So now it's your turn. What kind of things have you found to be helpful in encouraging reluctant readers?

PERSONAL PREFERENCE: At the end of each post, I'm going to put my own two cents in for  my personal favorites in helping engage with my families. For reluctant readers, I am a HUGE fan of the 39 Clues series from Scholastic. Fantastically developed characters (the two leads are a brother and sister--appealing to everyone!), action-packed plot lines, and each book is written by one member of a whole team of well known children's authors, such as Rick Riordan, Jude Watson, Linda Sue Park, and Gordon Korman, to name just a few. Rotating authors makes young readers comfortable and willing to pick up other books by those authors (a child might recognize Peter Lerangis' name from the 39 Clues series, and then pick up his Seven Wonders series, which is a more ambitious book to tackle). These books have the main protagonists racing all around the globe, visiting historic cities and sites. Pretty sneaky way of teaching history without the readers even realizing it! Each book in the series is less than 200 pages long, and since they are action/adventure books, they are incredibly fast-paced. There is no better feeling to a child who is a reluctant reader than when they realize that they've read two or three books in a couple of weeks, and had fun doing it!

Coming next: Children's Librarian Series, Part 2--Compulsive Readers

Thursday, October 27, 2016

And this is why I drink

*Reposted from a year ago. Because you just can't make this stuff up.

Tuesday, October 25th: I arrive at work to discover that I cannot get into my office, because there are large computer boxes blocking my door. I am told by a member of my staff that the IT guy came by to install my new computer.

Confused, I respond, "Uh....I didn't ask for a new computer."
Staffer: "Right, but yours is old and apparently is on a list to be replaced."
Me: "But......I don't want a new computer."
Staffer laughs out loud.
I stare at her.
Staffer: "You didn't know this was happening? Really?"
Me: "No. Aw man, I just finished ripping all my music to that computer. I have three years of information that I'm going to have to back up in the next fifteen minutes."
Staffer: "Ew."

Shortly thereafter, I got my new computer, new monitor, new sound bar. It's all shiny and new, and truly, I am appreciative. I was frustrated that my old computer, which worked just fine, was being replaced, when the reference desk computer out on the floor that takes a thousand years to even open a window was not. Not only that, but they wouldn't even approve moving my perfectly good, old computer out on to the floor. Regardless, this is part of working for the government, and I get that. There's a system in place for everything. I guess.

Wednesay, October 26th: I have payroll, an updated emergency contact list, and an updated inclement weather plan all due by noon. I have the department schedule for the next two weeks due by 5, a system wide rotation for Sunday scheduling due by Monday, and a standing paperback order that is due by the 3rd. I am supposed to be leaving at 12:30 in order to avoid going over 40 hours for the week. Moving at breakneck speed, I sit down to slam into all of this, only to discover that my brand new computer is taking twice as long as my old one to do things like boot up and load simple programs. I also have a million files to sort through and find, since all the information that was on my old computer is now on my flash drive and in no kind of order.

I am frustrated, but trying to see the silver lining. I really do like my  new 20 inch monitor.

Thursday, October 27th: My printer, which is approximately the same age as Moses, has not been installed on my new computer. Turns out that the printer is so old that I cannot even download the drivers for it off the internet. I go to find the city purchaser, to tell him that I need a new printer, and discover that the IT guy that started all of this is sitting in the business administration offices. The following conversation occurs:

Me: "Just the person I've been looking for."
Him: "Awesome! What's going on?"
Me: "Do you happen to remember, two days ago, when you came down to install the new computer that I did not want, ask for, or need?"
Him: "I do."
Me: "I am not able to get my printer to work with it."
Him: "Oh yeah! I knew that."
Me: {stares at him with what must have looked like a combination of disbelief and I'm-about-to-rip-your-head-off}
Him: "Yeah, there are no drivers. So you'll need a new printer."
Me: "...................Right.................."
Him: "So you just need to submit a ticket to the help desk, then they'll send it over to me, and I'll be able to put in a request to get you a new one from there. Probably take no more than a few weeks."
Me: "...............................Wrong answer, Buford."

The moral of the story is that, for as many wonderful benefits as there are to working for the government (and I'm not even a little kidding, there are a lot of great things about it), governmental red tape is even redder and stickier than the normal kind. Somebody get me a beer. Or three.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Very short post about a day in the life of a children's librarian


There are no words. Only the melodious sounds of me and my staff banging our heads against the place in our workroom I have set aside for just such activities (see below).

As we do this, we repeatedly say, "I will not pass judgement. I will not pass judgement. I will not pass judgement."

On the other hand.....

New sexy librarian glasses!

You take what you can get, I suppose...

Monday, October 24, 2016

What the hell just came out of my mouth?

This isn't a real blog post, but I wanted to share because I think I might be on to something here. I've decided to write a book. It's going to be filled with nothing but the completely ridiculous and totally inane things that parents find themselves saying when they are talking to their children. Here are a few of my most recent winners:

"Do not put Legos in your sister's food."

"If you would just eat over your plate, you wouldn't end up with honey on your feet."

"Fine, you can have the archery set. On 3 conditions..."

"Plates are not frisbees."

"Yes, well, I'm sorry your shirt got wet, but that's how gravity works."

"I don't know how to explain gravity to you, son."

"I don't know how to explain humidity to you, son."

"I don't know how to explain plumbing to you, son. Just stop putting your head in the toilet."

"Take your feet off of your sister's face."

"My uterus is not a trampoline." (This was directed at my daughter)

My favorite moments are when I'm in the car with my not-yet 6 year old, and he starts asking completely simple questions that I think he should already know the answer to, until I start to respond and realize that the answer is actually complicated enough that even the thought of explaining it to him completely exhausts me.

An example from last week, while driving home from an open house at my daughter's daycare:

My son: "Mommy?"
Me; "Yes?"
My son: "Is it night?"
Me: "Yes."
My son: "Why is it night?"
Me: "Son...................I don't know."

I am a college educated, business professional. I am hardly the most intelligent person I know, but I managed to scrounge up a master's degree while working two part-time jobs and taking care of a newborn. Of COURSE I know why it's night. I can even explain it to you, really. Having to explain planetary alignment and movement though, at that particular moment, brain-fried after spending an hour in a daycare with my son and his 2 year old sister, along with several hundred other brain-fried parents, teachers, and children, all of whom were hyped up on cookie and Capri-Sun benders--nope. Just. Nope.

So yes. A book filled with this stuff. Filtered in, I could also include pages filled with all of those annoying things that people say to you when you're a young parent that make you want to start punching old ladies in the grocery store. "Enjoy this time, they grow up so fast!" Right, because that's totally what I'm thinking when I'm driving around the interstate at midnight with my toddler who will not stop sobbing but simultaneoulsy thinks that the VeggieTales book that plays 'Jesus Christ is Risen Today' on a loop is the best thing ever. No, dear child of mine. Sleep is the best thing ever. SLEEP DAMMIT.

OH! In the back, instead of an index, there could be recipes on how to make awesome cocktails out of your kids' juice boxes, alcohol samplers, and the countless packages of instant jello that are taking up room in your pantry. IT'S LIKE THE BOOK IS WRITING ITSELF, PEOPLE.

I'm going to be rich. If I don't spend all the profits on booze, that is. To help me deal with the ridiculousness of being a parent. Vicious cycle.