We've had "our German" for a month now. She's adjusting to life in America and with us. School continues to be in flux as we all try to figure out what will be best for her. This week, at our exhorting, she asked her History teacher if she could read a different book. They had been given an assignment to select from a list of historical fiction options, and my cousin had opted for the one with her mother's name in the title.
The book proved to be disappointingly terrible, despite being on a certain TV celebrity's book club list. We flipped through the Sonlight catalog and came up with three superior options. Her teacher agreed and I bought a second copy of By the Great Horn Spoon so my cousin could follow along while I read it aloud.
When we had tried to read the original work, we all dreaded the experience. It was a chore that we dutifully waded through. I would rather have read from the antiquated phone book that shows up now and again on our doorstep. And my cousin was miserable. She struggled to keep track of the shifting perspectives and timelines scattered about the pages. The story was dreadfully dull and pointlessly depressing.
Contrast that experience with the one involving our new book.
We read two chapters before youth group and, on the drive home, my cousin asked casually, "Maybe we can read another chapter tonight?"
Chapter 5 waits impatiently for when I get home from work today.
My wife, who has not yet had the pleasure of reading this particular book, is also loving it. She often bursts into giggles as each new character and event saunters into view.
And that, my friend, is what is so spectacularly brilliant about good literature: No matter if you're a German kid still unsure of your English, new to the tale, or revisiting an old favorite, great stories urge you to keep reading. And we happily oblige!
I think it's also important to remember that listening to a great book enables us to learn things we couldn't pick up on our own. This is my first time reading By the Great Horn Spoon because my mom read it to me as a kid. I did not yet have the ability to read well enough when I was twelve. Same with my cousin. I'm sure she reads just fine in German, but English is a different story. So I read, she listens, and we all talk about it as we go.
My cousin loves the book she's currently "reading" for school.
I wish more History and English classrooms were filled with the literature that spills off the bookcases of Sonlighters around the world.
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester