Thursday, September 8, 2011
Tender Hearts and Dog Books
She smiled when she found Love That Dog by Sharon Creech. It's one of my favorite children's books about a little boy mourning the loss of his dog and learning to communicate through and love poetry. I think it's a truly beautiful book, but my heart dropped a little when I saw she had chosen it for me to read to her. I tried to read it with a class of fourth grade students once and bawled all the way through. I'm afraid I ruined it for them because I'm just a big ol' softie myself, especially when it comes to dogs. And sad kids. I still feel kinda bad - those kids surely thought I was nuts. I obviously decided Miss E was old enough to read the book when I put it in her shelf. In fact, I remember hoping she'd pick it up, thinking it would challenge her. I wanted her to read something beautiful because at the time she was loving some drivel based on a tween Disney show. I didn't count on her choosing it as a read aloud though. Gosh, I'm not ready for that. Watching her mother weep openly over a small book of poetry probably isn't the way to show my tender hearted eight year old how wonderful books can be.
So, I warned her. I told her the book was beautiful but very sad. She asked why it was sad - it looks so cheerful on the outside... I asked her what she thought could make a book about a boy and his dog sad. She immediately knew the dog died, and she frowned. I reassured her that it was one of my favorite books, that I thought she was grown up enough to read it. Then I told her "but you should know, I'm going to cry when I read". She asked why I loved it when it made me cry. We had a little conversation about how one of the best things about books are the way they stir our emotions and it's not bad to feel sad. I told her I loved this book because it's simply written, but really well done. I loved it because it can show kids ways to open up about their own sad feelings. Most of all I loved it because I've felt that way about pets myself so the story really appealed to me. She decided she wanted me to read something less emotional for her bed time story, but she took Love That Dog to bed with her. I hope she reads it. When she does, she's going to cry, but I think she'll love it.