I just lent most of my young-adult novels to a very-grateful twelve-year-old named Maralida.
Maralida showed up at my house at 7 am, because she was visiting her aunt, who cleans my house twice a month. Her aunt works long hours so she starts early in the morning. I didn’t ask why Maralida wasn’t in school. It didn’t seem like any of my business. Instead, I just gave her a pile of books she might like to read while her aunt scrubbed the mold from my bathtub. Maralida started reading Pippi Longstocking and grew so absorbed that she was ignoring all the other family-morning stuff all around her, including Sophie dancing a jig at her feet. She sweetly stopped to tie Sophie’s shoes for her, then went back to full absorption in the novel. Maralida looked up once to say, quietly, “Can I borrow this book if I don’t finish it today? My uncle can bring it back to you.”
So I loaned her some more books. Mostly, my YA collection is classics that I pick up at my neighbor’s garage sales. Charlotte’s Web; Phantom Tollbooth; Little House on the Prairie; The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. There’s only a couple newer ones in the mix — Love that Dog and The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate (thanks to a fabulous former student who is an editor at Henry Holt books) — but mostly my YA shelf is filled with whatever I see for sale for fifty cents and know that Sophie will eventually want to read. I told Maralida that I knew she’d probably already read many of these, but she looked at me with her huge eyes and said, “No. I haven’t read any of these.”
It broke my heart. What do kids like Maralida read?