I started to listen to The Dead Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan, smack on the heels of finishing the audiobook of The Forest of Hands and Teeth. I listen to them with teeth gritted, half-wincing
Here’s how turning The Forest of Hands and Teeth on for our last drive to Michigan for the summer went:
Hubby, hitting pause during disc 1. “You know this is a zombie book, right?” (Incredulous and excited that I would pick something so up his alley, and so not mine.
“What do you mean? Before we started the CD we talked about what Unconsecrated meant and never once did you mention Zombies!”
“Couldn’t you tell from reading the back of the book?”
“No! What clues are there that it was a zombie book? You know I’ve never seen a horror or zombie movie, much less read a zombie book! I just got over my vampire fear with Twilight! Werewolves-also okay because of Jacob. Faeries-fine, Harry-Potter like demons-no problem, but ZOMBIES??!! You know I never even wanted to see E.T. because the alien guy freaked me out!”
I did end up listening to The Forest of Hands and Teeth. I couldn’t remember anything I’d read about it (obviously) but knew it kept coming up as a highly recommended YA book, often when dystopian or post-apocolyptic settings came up. I had to reserve it at the library and wait two months! So…I agreed to give it a try, even though it was so out of my comfort zone.
Despite my severe zombie-phobia, I did find the premise of the books interesting enough that I went to the library to check out the companion book within days. I say ‘interesting’ because I don’t “love” them or “enjoy” them, but I can’t stop because I need to see what is going to happen!
It’s funny, as educators, we are so often trying to get kids to read out of their comfort-zone genre, but are often unwilling to do the same thing ourselves.
First Light by Rebecca Stead-wouldn’t have read it if someone had told me it was “science fiction”. Loved The Last Town on Earth, even though I wasn’t in the mood for historical fiction.
What got me past my initial turn-off? Recommendations of friends and people whose reading opinions I respect.
So am I saying, yes, force kids to read genres they “don’t want to”?
No-I’m saying, never underestimate the power of an excited, sincere recommendation for a child when you tell them, “I was thinking of you when I read this book. I know it’s not your typical pick, but I really think you should give it a chance.”