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Goodbye, Junie B. (NaBlo: Day 19)

November 19, 2013

Barbara Park died.

Park isn’t one of “my” authors; she’s one of my daughter’s.  My kid read Junie B. like no one’s business when she was first starting out.  It was a big deal at our house when there was a new release.

My daughter didn’t start reading until she was at the beginning of first grade.  It drove her crazy because she wanted to be an early reader, and then she wanted to be someone who read when everyone else in her class read.  With a class size of about eight that year, she didn’t have a lot to compare herself to, and when she was one of the last few who’d picked up reading, she was very upset with herself.  But then came “the click.”

I don’t remember learning to read, myself. I remember looking at the words in a Strawberry Shortcake book and knowing what they said.  Whether I was just matching the words to having heard the book aloud so many times or what, I knew what each one was.  That’s all I remember.  It was like a switch–once turned on, I could read almost anything.

Same for my kid.  After weeks of being frustrated with learning to read in school, she suddenly stopped bringing the subject up, and I tentatively asked one day, “How is learning to read going?”  “I’ve been reading for AGES now.”  Oh.  Going to the library then became a more-than-weekly struggle to keep down the number of books going in and out of my house.  (If you’d seen the state of her room, you would understand.)

But then she’d devoured most of the interesting-looking books at the library of a certain length and got a bit frozen.  “Try Harry Potter,” I said, and she said, “It’s too long.”  And back she went into the safety of Junie B.

After she watched the first movie, she attempted the book and read all four in just a few days, and her fear of larger books vanished.  But she still didn’t give up Junie B. for a long time.  I kind of don’t want to be the one to break the news that Ms. Park died.

Goodbye, Ms. Park.  Thank you for entertaining my daughter.  You were her first author-love.  Thank you so much.


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