Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Then & Now: Reading differently due to age

When you were a kid, you have certain thoughts and you viewed things in a certain way.  So things you remember from being a kid may have been VASTLY different from the way you perceive it now. 

When you read books as a kid, you got something entirely different out of them than you do now.  Part of that is you have a better frame of reference for things.  Part of that is your ideas and personality change over the years.  Part of it is that as a kid, you just plain don't get it.  So what are some ways that we read books differently?

1. You are better at reading for the underlying meaning than you were.

We read Shiloh this month and, having read that book as a kid, all I really remember is that it was about a kid with a dog.  I mean, I LIKED the book, but I'm fairly certain it's mostly because of the dog and the suspense of will he/won't he get to keep it.  Will everyone find out?  WHAT WILL HAPPEN?

As an adult, I can see where Marty is learning a lesson, and also how the world works.  I can see where Judd is starting to become a character, and not just this mean-spirited jerk.  I can see how it's a portrayal of West Virginia and a commentary on the living conditions and the community.  I missed all of this as a kid.  Mainly because I didn't have any sort of reason TO read for this stuff.

2. Your humor changes

Let's face it; the things you found funny as a kid a lot of times you think are dumb now.  For the life of you, you can't figure out why you EVER thought fart jokes were funny.  So when you're reading a book, it may not be as humorous as you once thought.

I read Captain Underpants recently and did not really find it funny.  However, I recognized that if I was an eight year old boy, I would probably think it's freakin' hilarious.

3. Sometimes, you forget things.

Ok, so this isn't necessarily "reading differently", but let's face it, it happens.  You read a book when you were a kid and now, as you pick it up again 10 years later, you don't really remember much about the book.  So you start to read... and as you read, you start to remember.  Suddenly, that big shocker of an ending, isn't such a shocker anymore because you remembered that it happened.

Remembering these details before you're meant to figure them out, can change your perceptions of a book, whether they be for good or bad.  Walk Two Moons has a surprise ending, that I figured out in chapter three (when I reread it) because I remembered what was going on.  But, that made it interesting, because I could see the TONS of clues left to me by Creech that I didn't really pick up on as a kid (but are painfully obvious as an adult.)

4. You GET the humor.

In kids books there is hidden humor.  Authors probably know that some parents are going to have to read the book, so they put stuff in there to entertain adults, but not the kids.  The same thing happens with kids movies (Ever see the movie Monster House? Girl: "If that's the tongue, and that's the throat, that must be the uvula." Boy: "Oh! So it's a GIRL house."  Let me tell you, hilarious to me, not so much to the little kids in the theatre.)

As a kid, you missed all those hilarious jokes that weren't really meant for you.  But as an adult, you get ALL of them.  It makes the book that much better that you can still get something out of books you've already read.

Those are just a few of the ways reading a children's book can be different as an adult.  What do you notice when you reread your old books?

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