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Friday, January 19, 2007

Clementine, oh Clementine, How Joyful you Are to Me

My second grader really doesn't like to read that much. However, she loves going to the library. I watch as she runs her fingers along the books and select something that looks interesting. She'll start reading her books. But after awhile, she'll get bored or frustrated and move on to another activity.

As an avid reader myself, I have had a hard time figuring out how to get my second grader to want to read. The biggest hurdle I've found is getting her more confident in her reading skills. Of course that means practice, practice, practice. Translation, read everyday. Groan. Sometimes this can be so painful. For both of us. Because in order to build my daughter's reading confidence, I need to find books she wants to read, at a reading level both of us are comfortable with. And some of these chapter books out there are just plain boring.

Enter Clementine, by Sara Pennypacker. Imagine my surprise when my reluctant reader came home from school one day early last week in complete enthusiasm for a book her teacher was reading to the class. Clementine. "Mom, you'll never guess. My teacher read the most amazing book in class today. Could you get it for me? Please? It's so funny." Now isn't that something. I had one happy surprised little girl on my hands when she found out the book was on order. "You are the coolest mom in the world. Wait until I tell my friends at school!"

Now I have to backtrack a bit. When I started my list of Strong Girl Role Models in Children's Literature, I mentioned the Junie B. Jones book series. I love this series. Junie B. is just too funny and quite the assertive character. Mother Reader stopped by and recommended Clementine. Mother Reader, thank you thank you thank you, for making me the coolest mom in the world. You are so right on about this book. I can't wait for the second book to come out this spring.

You cannot imagine the effort it took to find this book. Originally, I figured if I ordered the book from Amazon.com, it would take a week to get to me. Since I'm a gal who is on a mission, I go to my local chain book store. I am shocked because I found out the book store was closing. To add insult to injury, no one in the book store even heard of this book. One of the salespeople looked at me like I was the most ignorant person on earth and said, "Clementine? I think you mean Tangerine." And that seemed to be my experience in another book store in the next town over. I gave up and went to the library. I should have gone there from the beginning. I requested the book and then went home to order the book from Amazon.com.

Fast forward. Everyday after school last week, the first thing my daughter would ask me was, "Did the book come in yet?" And she is disappointed when I tell her no. I am floored that she has this much enthusiasm for a book. I can't wait until the book comes in either.

Finally, the big day arrives. Clementine is here. My daughter is excited. She is picking the book up herself to read it. Without me having to ask her to read. This is progress. I even dangle a carrot in front of her. When she finishes reading the book, she can have her first sleepover. I'm not sure I'm really ready for a sleepover, but that is another story. My daughter and her best friend have been torturing me about a sleepover for months. So. I'm just trying to give my child more incentive to read. And if it takes a little bribery, well...

All I can say is Clementine is a winner. I was laughing. Laughing. Laughing.

Here is one of my favorite lines from the second chapter of the book: "But then a great idea popped into my head. I am lucky that way: great ideas are always popping into my head without me having to think them up."

This could be one of my kids talking. Because whenever they start talking about their great ideas, I know someone is going to be banned from something. Just as long as they're not banned from reading. Or Clementine. Not Tangerine.


Callipygia said...

I'm glad you both found a book to find the process easier. It is funny the store clerk thought it was Tangerine!

Erin said...

That's a wonderful story!

Franki said...

I LOVE Clementine too! She amused me to the point that I laughed out loud several times.

I have taught in the intermediate grades for years. What you describe is really a normal phase for 2nd and 3rd graders. My daugher was the same way for a long time. As a teacher, I spend about 1/2 of 3rd grade helping kids find books that they can stick with until the end. Chapter books are so new to them. It is a new thing to learn--sticking with and understanding a book over time. So glad your daughter loved Clementine. Once they find a book or two they love, there is no turning back!

I am hoping Clementine becomes a series but haven't heard whether or not that is the plan.

By the way, I had the EXACT same favorite line when I posted about the book!

Genevieve said...

This is terrific! I haven't read Clementine to my first-grader yet, but I put it on hold at the library last week after I saw how many people were predicting it as their Newbery pick, and saying how much they loved it.

Your daughter might also like the "Lucy Rose" books, by Katy Kelly. There are 3 of them, all set in D.C., and the main character is funny and individualistic and has a fun way of talking.

HipWriterMama said...

Callipygia, Oh this book is delightful. And can you believe this, I just found out there is a YA book called Tangerine by Edward Bloor.

Thanks Erin for stopping by.

Franki, I appreciate your words of encouragement about 2nd and 3rd grade reading development. I'll keep this in mind and won't freak out if I still see this next year! I checked out your post and great minds must think alike. That is one of the best lines ever!

Genevieve, Clementine is a great read. You must get a hold of a copy. It is laugh out loud funny.

Susan said...

Okay, I must get Clementine now. I've heard so many good things about the book! My 2nd grade boy can read pretty well but isn't overly interested in chapter books; he kind of poops out on them, as Franki is describing.