chatting books with my girls (part two)

chatting books with my girls (part two)


This is part two of my book discussion with my daughters Carlen and Courtney.
You can read part one here.
With a week between conversations, the girls added a few books they had forgotten and
we had an equally grand time. It bolstered my estimation of the books read during their
childhood. I found their reading history wide and varied.
Parenting can be all-consuming and
often we only see the faintest brushstrokes of the life canvas our children are painting
but some days we catch the briefest of glimpses of how the portrait is taking shape.
In an instant we are reminded of when we first laid eyes on them and believed
they were a masterpiece.
Now all these years later, the truth remains but the visual is more
breathtaking than imagined.
I adored this time with my girls.
As to not be outdone  by their brother, they chose to display their selfie love
with Caleb-like photo antics.

Me: Okay girls, let’s get right down to business. 
What did you forget to mention from the last conversation?

Carlen: Favorite all-time read aloud: The Search for Delicious.

Court: The Wind in the Willows.

Me: The Wind in the Willows was great but it took such a long time to read.

Carlen: It was a fun read aloud because you didn’t do any accents.

Me: Hey, watch it!


Me: Middle school is a period of time when many people start to not 
enjoy reading.
What is it about middle school and what were some of those
books that you were required to read?

Court: I remember reading A Day No Pig Would Die and it was quite graphic.
It was good but still a bit much.
I think it depended on your teacher and their preferences. In sixth grade,
I remember reading Huckleberry Finn which had a lot of language in it.
I also read To Kill A Mockingbird around that same time as well.
I seem to remember reading a lot of Steinbeck.

Carlen: Speak, A Place to Stand and The Kite Runner.
Into the Wild and Breaking Free were memorable.

Court: It definitely was teacher dependent.
Carlen read Persepolis in middle school,
I didn’t read it until high school.

Carlen: By the time I got to high school, I was really burnt out on reading. Especially after
my freshman year, we read so many books with such intensely hard racial issues.
It was difficult to be the only person of color in class.

Court: Oh yeah. It gets kind of old being the voice for your race.

Me: Yes, all eyes on you.

Court: Freshman year, we spent a lot of time reading Eye on the Prize and watching the film. We also read a book from a young local author The Girl Who Fell From the Sky and
The Secret Life of Bees.
Oh and we read Fences.

Carlen: I loved my freshman English teacher she was very passionate about reading
books about different cultures. We read The Color Purple, The House on Mango Street,
When the Emperor Was Divine and Night.
After awhile I asked her if I could read some other types of
It was not until my senior year when we could read books of our own choosing
as long as they were varied in genre.
That’s when I began to enjoy reading again.
Before senior year, I went into a long phase of reading comic books. Ha.
I just needed a break.
I wore out my copies of Calvin and Hobbes.

Me: Depending on your life experience or season of life, books can be powerful
but also emotionally exhausting if they don’t arrive at the right time..
Tell me some of your favorite books over the years.


Carlen: The Catcher in the Rye.

Court: I know you are supposed to love that book, but I hated it.

Carlen: I think it is one of those books you love or hate. It’s okay.

Carlen: I loved Of Mice and Men, Bridge to Terabithia, Regarding
The Fountain, How to Win Friends and Influence People, My Sister’s Keeper,
The Hunger Games, any book by John Maxwell, Holes or any book by
Louis SacharJerry Spinelli or Shel Silverstein.
I also loved authors Ellen Hopkins and Laurie Halse Anderson.

Court: For me I would say, A Corner of the Universe, A Series of Unfortunate Events,
The Mysterious Benedict Society, Gone Girl, A Change of Heart, Among
The Hidden, Beastly (totally boycotted the movie). Room was a book where
I really didn’t like some of the characters but it still was really good.


Me: I couldn’t wait to share Nancy Drew with the two of you. 
Why wouldn’t you give her a chance?

Court: I had Nate the Great, that was enough for me.

Carlen: Okay, The Box Car Children was pushing it with me.
I think I read about 5 of those books.Those books were so old.
I just was never into  mystery as a genre.
I liked playing Clue but that was about all.


Carlen: OH! Columbine by Dave Cullen, Courtney and I
both read that book a few summers ago.
It completely changed my whole view of the media.
We never know the whole story.

Court: The book is laid out so well and is divided into different
categories. It was of course really sad but very good at the same

Carlen: I bawled all the way through the book.

Me: Do you ever read books over again?

Court: I don’t usually read books again.
The only books I have read repeatedly are A Corner in the Universe
and Anne Frank: The Diary of A Young Girl.

Carlen: I think I read Holes about 7 times and even listened to the audio tape.
I read Regarding the Fountain a lot, it is so funny.
Calvin and Hobbes: Something Under the Bed Is Drooling, I read it to pieces.

I read Out of the Dust several times. Karen Hesse writes amazing poetry.


Me: Let the battle begin: Book or movie first?

Court: (stands up) Read the book first! I like to go into a book with anticipation.
I like not knowing  what is going to happen. There are more details in the book.
Even if changes are made in the movie, it makes more sense because you
have the book as the explanation. A movie may have plot holes which do
not make sense unless you have read the book. Reading the book after seeing
the movie, I doubt I would pay as much attention to details because I have already
seen a visual outline of the book.

Carlen: Watch the movie first. When I read My Sister’s Keeper first,
I was devastated when I saw how they changed the book and the ending.
Now, I see the movie and I can enjoy it for what it is. I know I
will probably enjoy the book more but reading it after the fact, makes
the movie experience fuller.
I am more of a movie buff anyway.

Court: Yeah, I am the book lover.
So this makes sense.

Caleb: Can you tell if a book is good by looking at it?

Carlen: Absolutely not. One of my favorite books, has the most
terrible cover.

Courtney: No, I remember when we had a book club and all of us
wanted to read this 101 Dalmatian chapter book based on the cover.
The book was horrible. All the moms made us read it anyway.

Me: I think it was probably because we secretly didn’t want you girls
to pick the book in the first place. I admit, we were mean.

Me: Court, you have an uncanny way of reading books sometimes
years before they become huge hits. I had a great track record
of finding children books before the masses when you both were
growing up.
What’s your secret?

Court: I don’t know. I am always on the look out.
I read book lists. I search the library’s new books.
I read anything that has a book list and see what strikes
my interest.

Me: Last questions, what are reading now and what have you
been meaning to read?

Court: I am reading The Stand, House of Leaves,
Songs of the Humpback Whale, High Rise and 11/22/63.

It’s crazy but I wanna finish East of Eden.
I have like 20 pages left.

Me: Court, that was like 2 summers ago.
Finish it already.

Court: I know, I know.

Carlen: I am reading Gone Girl and Outliers.

I want to read White Oleander and Anna Karenina.

Me: Girls, it has been the most fun to talk to you
about books.
It was my hope that you would love books as much as 
I do.
Let’s keep the conversation going.

Carlen: Next time we should talk about movies.

Court: Oooo, that would be fun.

Me: Or maybe debate whether book covers should
be changed to the movie poster?
I vote an emphatic no!

Carlen: Yes, in most cases.

Court:No, no, no, definitely not!
I didn’t like it when they changed the cover of
Holes or The Hunger Games.

Me: On opposite sides again, I see.
Until next time.
Now I have the task of turning
all these sheets of notes into a blog post
and adding dozens of links.
Wow, you have read a lot of books
and I know I won’t be able to add them all.
(I didn’t…aren’t you glad?!

I love you, my sweets.

Carlen: I love you Mom.

Court: I love you Mama.

This post is apart of the 31 days…yet again series
about books. You can find the entire series here.

chatting books with my girls

chatting books with my girls



From left to right, meet Carlen aka Len or Lenny Lou, age 25 (gulp!) and
Courtney aka Court, Coco or Nee Nee, age 21 (another gulp!).
They are all things wonderful and delightful. I believe they are in the throes of
a precious sweet spot in their sister friendship.
It is swoon worthy to behold.
Just look at those money smiles.
I mean that literally smiles made from MONEY 😉
Worth every penny.

I can’t tell you how much fun I had talking to Caleb first about books and then
spending some time on Saturday afternoon while these two
discussed books and recalled memories of their childhood.

My challenge to you is start having conversations with others about books.
Especially the books you read as children. I guarantee you will learn something
about one another and create new connections.
I have loved reading your comments here and on Facebook.
Keep the conversation going!


We gathered around our dining room table with an assortment of Dutch Brothers,
Starbucks and an energy drink to discuss books.
I merely was a spectator, a note taker and from time
to time lobbed out questions when I was able to get in a word.
We ran out of time so this will be the first of a two-part conversation with my girls.

Me: Girls, I initially asked you to tell me your 5 or so favorite books, which you did
with some difficulty. So after my interview with Caleb, I decided you two deserved
equal time and I know we will appreciate your perspective. So thanks for agreeing
to sit down with me.

The Girls: Sure!

Me: Okay, let’s start with your favorite childhood books. Throw out some titles.

Court: The Seven Silly Eaters, that cake looked so good.

seven silly eaters

Len: Oh that was a good book. I liked that too.
I also liked Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed,
Miss Rumphius, the one where everyone is laying all over
the old lady, what was it called?

Me: The Napping House.

Len: Yes, The Napping House, I loved that book.
Also Chrysanthemum and Owen.
I loved Kevin Henkes.
Oh Stellaluna.

Me: We all loved Kevin Henkes!

Court: I liked A Bad Case of the Stripes,

Bamboozled with that really crazy house

bamboozled book
and The Stinky Cheese Man.

Len: Any of the If You Give… books and the book about the Koala Bear.

Me: Oh yes, Koala Lou!
Koala Lou, I do love you!

The Girls: YES!

Me: Okay, let’s move onto favorite books read aloud by your dear mother.

The Girls: The Secret Garden (laughter erupts).

Me: The Secret Garden was almost your last read aloud.

The Girls: The accent was hilarious. (more laughter)

Me: Yes, I tried my best to do an English accent but you both teased me mercilessly.
So glad we brought this up, I was almost over the humiliation.

Court: Hinds Feet on High Places and Inkheart.

Len: My Father’s Dragon and the Narnia books.

my fathers dragon

Caleb: (from the living room) Oh, I liked My Father’s Dragon, I read
all three of the books.

The Girls: The Ear, the Eye and the Arm!
We loved that book.

Me: Have you both always loved reading?

Len: Nope.

Court: Yes, absolutely.

Me: Tell me more Carlen.

Len: I didn’t like being told what books to read in school.
It seemed to take all the joy out of reading.

Court: Carlen,I remember when Mom tried to get you to read Harry Potter when
it first came out. I would watch you sit on the couch and move your head back and
forth. I was like, there is no way you are reading Carlen.
You were faking it.

Len: (laughs with a cackle) I know. I did not want to read that book. I just
wasn’t into that book. I wasn’t into magic and there was so much talk
about that book at the time.

Me: Yeah, despite all the controversy about Harry Potter at the time,
I was trying anything to get you back into wanting to read. I just
prayed you would find your way back to books.

Me: How long did it take you get back into enjoying reading and
what was the spark?

Len: I read Bridge to Terabithia when I was in 5th grade. It was a book
that Mom had always encouraged me to read. It was always on the book
tables she set up for Reading Is Fundamental. It was a book that taught
me not to judge a book by its cover.

bridge to terabithia

Me: That book was a healing book as you dealt with the death of a classmate in 5th grade.
Terabithia meant a lot to both of us.
Remember going to hear Katherine Paterson lecture downtown
the same year.
We went to the book signing but I think we were both
too emotional to even approach her.

Me: Court, you have always loved to read books. Why?

Court: I don’t know. I just do. I like how you can picture the story that is being told.
It’s different from watching a movie or television.
I just need to read.

Len: I love watching Court read. She sits in her favorite chair and she is all
curled up. I watch her facial expressions and it makes me want to know what
she is reading and even to read the book.
I think it is her way to relax.

Court: Yeah, I agree.

Me: Okay, girls. We have to get to Caleb’s soccer game.
Can we take up this conversation later?

The Girls: Sure. Absolutely, this has been a blast.

Next weekend, we’ll talk about favorite authors, what is it about the books
assigned in middle school, the books they have read multiple times
and the never-ending debate of read the book first or see the movie first,
then read the book.
Oh and I want to know about Court’s uncanny ability to read books
light years before they become huge hits. She’s got the gift.
And perhaps why I could never get either of you to read Nancy Drew.


What are your favorite books to read aloud?

Do you do accents?

This post is apart of the 31 days…yet again series
about books. You can find the entire series here.