This is the follow-up to my post Reading Darker Books with a Younger Child . Please read it first if you haven’t already.
Reading Darker Books with a Younger Child (pt 2)
Well, we finished reading The Archived.
My final opinion: I still don’t regret reading it with her.
Yes, there was a few brutal fights, and yes, some of it was over her head. It was a bit more graphic at the end, and some things required me to simplify them for her. The only thing I really verbally edited, though, was some of the passionate kissing. Those got changed to long hugs. It probably says something about my head that I had no problem reading to her about a guy getting cut with a knife, but edited out the (semi-intense) smooching.
I’m happy to report she stayed engaged clear through the end, and there have been no nightmares.
We actually finished it on a Sunday afternoon. We had just a few chapters left, so we decided to try to plow through them so we could return the book on our weekly library trip. I had to convince her though, because she didn’t want to return the book. “It’s a good bedtime story! It makes me tired!” was the response.
When I asked her what she would rate it, she told me this: “I’d give it 5 stars, except for [redacted to not spoil], ’cause he’s a jerk.”
So how did she handle everything?
Quite well, actually. She asked for explanations on some of the terms during fights. (Like getting “pinned down”. She thought that meant someone had put a pen/pin through the other person.) She had a little trouble grasping why Histories don’t bleed, but was good once she figured it out. A little too good, actually, as every time a fight happened, she would say something like “It’s okay. They are like ghosts so they can’t really get hurt.” She needed a little bit of prompting to put certain pieces together. However, watching her face when those pieces clicked was awesome.
“Oh, mommy! [Redacted] is the bad guy! He’s the bad guy ’cause [….] and I think that one of …” and when it was revealed that was the person, she was so proud of herself. You could practically see her bony little chest puff out. She then proceeded to interject her opinion every five minutes for the rest of the book. That caused me to have this weird mix of proud and annoyed at the same time. But, because I don’t want to stop her from forming opinions and verbalizing them freely, I would hear her out and then say something like “Okay, well, let’s read on and see if you were right.”
Not a one-off, but not an always either.
The funny thing is that when we returned the book to the library, her reading choice was not what I would have expected at all. Quite frankly, I’d expected her to pick out something like Junie B. Jones for me to read to her. You know, take a break from the big serious books. HAH! Miss L brought home this book instead:
Goodreads Synopsis: I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.
August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He’s about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you’ve ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances?
So, as you can see from the synopsis, this isn’t exactly light and fluffy material. So, I will read it to her, but I’ not going to force the issues with these books. In fact, I’m going to make it clear to her that mommy doesn’t expect that we need to read these kind of books all the time. It’s perfectly okay to have the ‘grown up books’ only once in a while instead. Just to make sure.
The journey reading The Archived was an interesting one. Reading this book gave us several days of fun reading together, and also lots of time for discussion. Yes, the way I read it, the length of it, and all that contributed to relaxing her and making her tired for bed. That’s not a bad thing. She was still listening, even as her eyes were drooping. Still asking questions as she cuddled up against my side. She remembered enough of what was going on to try to argue with me.
Love to Read
So, yeah, it’s a challenge to read a darker book to a younger child, but it can be worth it. It was a positive experience. Remember, ‘darker’ doesn’t always equal ‘bad’. But I’ll also close with this: I’m not advocating that we read these books to young children in general. Your child may not be ready to read a book like this, and that’s okay. Every kid is different. What your child reads isn’t nearly as important as your child’s love to read.
Let them love it. Everything will grow and go from there.