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You Aren’t Reading That Right

UpsetSchoolBoy_400One of the things that I’ve found most curious (and most concerning) is the question I get about reading things “wrong.” As in, not right. I’m always puzzled. “You mean you aren’t reading it with the inflection that’s intended?” Blank look. “That you aren’t reading it in the way in which your child will like it?” Warmer. Ah.

The beauty and joy of a book–opposed to, say, a television show or a movie that’s acted out in front of you–is that while an author certainly has intent with a story, it’s really open for wide interpretation once it gets in your hands. I’ve heard Goodnight Moon read lyrically, jokingly, and even boisterously. They all work.

Kids, however, will have their preferences. Sometimes they see characters a certain way or take away something different from the story than we do. And often that’s a byproduct of how the story is read to them. If I’m reading Goodnight Moon, it’s definitely soft and lullaby like. If my husband reads it, he’s interjecting with things like “Goodnight left sock that stinks!” I wouldn’t say he’s silly and I’m soft because I can do a pretty mean performance of Robo Sauce, too. But we definitely have different reading styles. Especially at bedtime. When I might argue the goal is to wind down, not up. Ahem.

But there are certain books that a child will pluck from my hands and say with disdain, “No, I want Daddy to read that.” (Any Mo Willems title.) It pretty much amounts to the equivalent of “It’s Daddy’s turn to pitch” (i.e. I can’t actually hit the balls you are erratically throwing over the house, Mom). There’s no right and wrong way to read a book. But there’s a way your kid may like more.

I hope one day to win back Mo Willems. Maybe if my pitching improves. Below, please find The Books That Only My Husband is Allowed to Read Because I “Read Them Wrong.” I’m pretty sure the reaction to Take Me Out to the Ballgame has to do with my singing. And I know if I could get that darned cover off faster with Robo-Sauce my odds would really improve with that one.