Why is it that in some of the best stories the mother must die or otherwise abandon a child for her to grow or experience adventure? Are we really that oppressive? Do our rules and regulations force our children into some model that prevents excitement and joy? And, while it is true that many of the best orphans of the page have a rough start, their parent-less existence seems a benefit in the long run.
I was not an orphan, but loved to read of them and the eventual progress they would make on whatever adventure the authors could imagine for them. Some of my favorites include Pippi Longstocking, Mary Lennox, Jane Eyre, Anne of Green Gables and Pollyanna. Their lives seem so exciting and even a little dangerous to a young girl quietly reading in the library. For my son, whether or not I was around, the adventure he craves is beyond my deliverance. The lands of Redwall, Narnia, Middle Earth and beyond are only reachable on the page-at least for now.
This summer, if possible, try letting your kids have the freedom to find their own adventures with a book of their own choosing. Your school might have a list of suggestions or your local library. For the next few months I plan on exploring books that seem more fun than important. Perhaps your young reader will find a favorite on my bookshelf.
If you know a a great, fun read for either middle readers (3rd-6th grade) or young adults (6th and up) let me know and I will pick it up myself and spread the word.