Family Literacy Day: Indies and their Little Readers

January 27, 2015

It goes without question that All Lit Up employs a host of reading-obsessed people, who started out as reading-obsessed kids. Our indie publishers and their kids are no exception. If you’re looking to raise your own bookworms this Family Literacy Day, check out some of the habits our publisher parents instilled in their children, and their favourite book recommendations for kids of all ages.

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It goes without question that All Lit Up employs a host of reading-obsessed people, who started out as reading-obsessed kids. Our indie publishers and their kids are no exception. If you’re looking to raise your own bookworms this Family Literacy Day, check out some of the habits our publisher parents instilled in their children, and their favourite book recommendations for kids of all ages.

 

Baby Chaudiere – rob mclennan, Christine McNair, and Baby Rose

“Given that my wife, Christine McNair, and I have some 10,000 books between us, it would have been impossible for our daughter Rose to not have some interest in books. She’s thirteen months old, and already has more books than we have space for, which allow us to weed out some of the titles we consider rather thin or lame. I presume this will be a constant for some years: books are removed, replaced and weeded out, as a steady stream of others appear.

Reading opens our post-breakfast day, once Christine has gone off to work, and ends with books, as we ready the wee lass for bed. Over the past few months, some of our favourite books to read to her have been in the BabyLit series, which I really can’t recommend enough. They’re a series of smart and witty hard-board baby books with wildly colourful artwork, and each title is based on a different classic novel. Rose has a half dozen in the series: Pride & Prejudice: A BabyLit Counting Primer, Jabberwocky: A BabyLit Nonsense Primer (my personal favourite), Sherlock Holmes in the Hound of Baskervilles: A BabyLit Sounds Primer, Wuthering Heights: A BabyLit Weather Primer, Dracula: A BabyLit Counting Primer (which oddly, doesn’t actually include “Dracula,” and refers to coffins as “boxes”), and Anna Karenina: A BabyLit Fashion Primer ( Rhonda Douglas and Christine have both explained to me how this is a rather troubling interpretation of the original text). Really, we should just have a few more kids so we can get the entire series.

Of the dozen or two books she goes through regularly (and, often, repeatedly, as is the way of children), I’ve noticed that another of her favourites (and mine as well) is Little You (Orca Book Publishers, 2013) by Richard Van Camp, a very sweet short book on the joy that babies bring.”

–– rob mclennan is the publisher of Chaudiere Books, in Ottawa, ON, and the author of several works of poetry and fiction, most recently, The Uncertainty Principle.

 

Wee Wolsaks – Noelle Allen and her poetry-loving sons

rosarose

“It’s probably no surprise that my whole family reads a lot – you could almost say it’s an occupational hazard – but it may surprise many to know that my two sons love poetry. They love the rhythm and the cadence of it and they occasionally surprise me by quoting bits of it. They love hearing it read out loud. Of course, we started them early. Before my eldest had actually made his way into the world, we had started gathering books for his bookshelf. One of the first ones was A Child’s Treasury of Nursery Rhymes edited by Kady MacDonald Denton.  Of course, we also picked up Dennis Lee’s Alligator Pie, a family favourite is the poem “On Tuesdays I Polish My Uncle.”  Somehow I also ended up reading out loud lots of T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats which I recommend to anyone with a cat-loving child. “I have a gumby cat in mind, her name is Jenny Any Dots…”

 I knew all the poetry reading had worked when on a car ride home one day Isaac started spontaneously reciting a poem in the back seat. “What is that?” I asked. Isaac was shocked I didn’t recognize it: “It’s the Einstein poem from Rosa Rose.”  Of course, I should have recognized it, since I published the collection. But I hadn’t read that poem to him. He’d read it and memorized it himself.”

–– Noelle Allen is the publisher of Wolsak & Wynn.

 

The Junior Thugs – The BookThugs and their sons’ expanding horizons 

“Like many parents, there have been times when Jay and I have failed miserably over the years. But one thing we succeeded at is raising two boys who love to read, and this is something we take great pride in. Our Junior BookThugs Reid (age 16) and Cole (age 12) read all the time. It never ceases to amaze my 88 year-old Grandmother, who tells them that their last name should be Booker, not Millar, because of how often she catches them reading. We started reading to both boys from the day they were born. I couldn't wait to start sharing my favourite childhood books with them. Each night after bath time, we would snuggle up with a stack of board books next to us and read them to sleep. As the boys got bigger so did the piles of books. Early favourites included anything by Sandra Boynton, Goodnight Moon and Guess How Much I Love You. I will never forget the first time Reid read us a book all by himself. It was Sandra Boynton's But Not the Hippopotamus (a classic!) and he used all the same inflections and character voices that we used whenever we read it to him. Jay and I were amazed. As they got older, the board books were replaced with books from Dr. Seuss, or The Magic Tree House series and eventually the Hardy Boys. When they learned to read on their own we continued our nightly story time routine but would read books like Harry Potter or the Narnia Chronicles together.

bpbeginnings

At 12, Cole is comic book crazy and he reads them all the time. I mean all the time – upon waking, during mealtimes, while wandering around the house or walking down the street. If you have any questions about the Marvel Universe, he is your guy. His other love in life is Lego and he adores the Lego guidebooks from DK. And he’s read about all the histories of video game companies like Nintendo he can get his hands on. Other favourites include the Nate the Great and Diary of a Wimpy Kid series as well as the Warriors series. Reid is currently reading his way through all the Beats (especially Ginsberg and Kerouac and Burroughs). He's also developed a keen interest in poetry – much to Jay's delight – and he counts Sylvia Plath, bpNichol, bill bissett and Stuart Ross among his favourites. He often asks to join us when we go out to events, and he has been caught shushing people who are talking during readings. He's also very likely to steal away to his room to read the books we publish each season, which is easy enough. After all, he lives in the house of BookThug. Lastly, while the boys may have outgrown our nightly story time routine, you are still likely to find us all cuddled up together in the living room, quietly reading our books, while our kitten (and Bookthug mascot) Tess purrs and naps away.” 

––Hazel Millar is the managing editor of BookThug.

 

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HUGE thanks go out to our parent publishers – rob, Noelle, and Hazel – that contributed their families’ stories to our family literacy day post, and also, of course, for raising more lovers of literature.


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