I always thought I'd be the mom who only read to her children the classics. You know like: Peter Pan, Wind in the Willows, The Hobbit, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Narnia Chronicles, etc. I did read all those books to my sweet boys, and quite a few more, but unfortunately I didn't completely captivate my audience, ie: Riley. My tender hearted little Riley has never really stayed to listen to any of the stories. At the greatest moments when Dorothy destroys the Wicked Witch of the West, or when Peter Pan defeats Captain Hook, Riley was either in the other room playing with Playmobils or asleep.
I had hoped he would grow to love my reading. I used what I knew best: drama. I would read with authentic French and British accents and wave my hands to show what the fight might be like. But all of my fancy schemes never fazed Riley. One can imagine, I was feeling slightly defeated as an actor and mother and I put away the fictional chapter books and started reading to my boys nonfiction picture books about animal. (Their latest obsession is owls.)
Then one day our family when to the school book fair. I let the boys pick out a book and Riley wanted Captain Underpants. When Conrad was 2, the series had been recommended to me by an insightful, well read, English graduate friend of mine named Jen Anderson. I was quite apprehensive because as everyone know Captain Underpants is not on the 101 Great Books Recommended for College-Bound Readers. But Riley was excited about it and the book was marked down to $2, so I thought, "What the hay!"
We started reading Captain Underpants and the Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy Part 1 and Riley was hooked. He would do chores, wake up happy, eat all his dinner, just so he could hear what happened in the next chapter.
The author Dave Pilkey knows his audience well. ie: elementary boys. He has everything: burping, farting, boogers, bathroom practical jokes and a super hero who looks like a pear wearing whitey-tighteys.
Although I will not give up my leather bound classics for Dave Pilkey's paperbacks, I will gladly buy more of his literature for my wonderful little brute so that they can continue to grow and learn to love the joys of reading.