My seven year old is a bit of a reluctant reader. She's a great reader, but she'd much rather draw or redecorate her room, and she rarely reads with out being told to - except when it comes to Junie B. Jones books. She simply loves Junie B. and when I hear her randomly laughing in her room I know she's reading something like Junie B. Jones: Toothless Wonder or Junie B. Jones First Grader at Last.
Oh sure, the teacher in me hates that Junie B. uses incorrect grammar. The parent in me cringes a little every time Junie B.'s parents or teachers roll their eyes at her. However, the teacher in me loves that the teachers also explain consequences to Junie B. and obviously care about her. The parent in me loves that even though they are simple books and far below my daughter's ability they lure her in and encourage her to read and laugh. I love that they give her a positive mirror - Junie B. reflects my daughter's enthusiasm and exuberance almost perfectly.
We were sad to learn this weekend of the passing of Junie's author, Barbara Park. We did smile as we read, in People Magazine's tribute to her, that when asked how she so accurately portrayed a six year old she said "I don't have a problem being six years old in my head," Park once explained during an interview with barnesandnoble.com. "It's almost embarrassing; if I'm talking to librarians or teachers who know my books and they say, 'How do you do this?' It's not a stretch." She was obviously a woman with a great sense of humor and not afraid to stay in touch with her younger self. Rest in Peace Ms. Park. Thank you for encouraging my daughter to read and laugh.
(Read the People tribute here.)