Words are words, right? They’re effective regardless of medium, right? So, what do you do if your kid is resistant to reading because he thinks it’s boring? Your choices are to force him to read or to find him something he’ll read voluntarily and without your nagging. Neil, my boy, has become bored of his Magic Tree House books. We started off a year ago with a bang; he devoured them, and we have a pile of unread ones waiting to be put to use. But recently, at book 16 of the series, I noticed he was dragging when I’d say “It’s time to read.” Where once he was excited and self motivated, he had turned a bit sullen. Perhaps, for us, the Magic Tree House series has performed its final bow. Okay, that’s not a problem; we’ll find something else to read. And that’s what we went to do. At the bookstore we sat in the Young Readers section looking through various series, trying to find the one that would spark his interest. They must have all looked like Magic Tree House to Neil because he’d say “Noooo, I don’t want that” to every suggestion I made. “There are always the Newberry prize winning books! Let’s try those!” To which again he would say “Noooo”, sprinkling a bit of lachrymosity in for effect.
And that’s when we stumbled upon Bone, a graphic novel that’s been around for a long time but which we’ve missed because I never considered the use of a graphic novel into our reading plan. I picked it off the shelf and half jokingly said “How about this?” Neil took it, flipped through the pages, and said “Yeah! I wanna read this.” We bought it. Bone sat around for a few weeks because Neil still had to complete what he started with his last Magic Tree House book. However, when it was time for him to read Bone – Boy did he read it. Neil spent an entire afternoon, forgoing his playtime, reading that first book until it was done. He reads the books with zeal for himself and without prodding; and, when he finishes, he reads them again to his brother. Reading had never been quite this fun before.
What’s it all About?
I read the first book before I gave it to Neil just because I wanted to make sure it would be okay for his 7 year old sensibilities (I didn’t think it needed expurgation or anything, but we’ve made that mistake with manga in the past so I wanted to be sure). The books are about three creatures (species unknown) who get lost, after being run out of Boneville for some crime or misdeed which I have yet to find out about, and separated in a land of strange monsters. First they have to reunite with each other (Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, and Smiley Bone are their names) then they have to find their way out of the valley. They get stuck because of the weather and are forced to rely on the kindheartedness of strangers for their survival. They each, separately, meet people who are willing to help them, and they make friends in their own strange ways. Anyway, there are deeper elements to the books; but, from a kid perspective, that’s the jist. I haven’t read beyond book one, but Neil says in book 3 they’re still stuck in the valley having all kinds of cool adventures. The point, obviously, is that the kid has a renewed interest in reading, and we can thank Bone for it!