One Victory

Pippa does not read my blog, so far as I know (this would be a good time to tip me off if you are reading, Pip!), so I’ll crow about Margaret’s and my subtle method for inducing our children to read books that we know they’ll be interested by.

We hit them over the head with it.

No, no quite that obvious, but still — the time-honored method in our family entails leaving the “interesting” book in some incredibly obvious place (Margaret used the middle of the floor for a while), until the target child can no longer ignore it. This doesn’t always work, but it’s more consistently successful, and a lot less costly, than nagging.

On today’s library trip, I spotted a book on drawing comics that I knew would interest Pippa, if only I could induce her to look into it. As Pippa hit the comics section upstairs and the children’s section downstairs, I settled into the adult recent acquisitions section with a book by Paul Ricoeur that I’ll ignore until it’s due, Neil Gaiman’s Marvel 1602 (which I enjoyed immensely, though wityh a slight let-down at the end), and the how-to-draw-comics book on the library table in front of me. When Pippa finished her browsing, she came to get me. I continued reading 1602 until I reached the end of a chapter. She glanced at the cover of Ricoeur, looked at her own stack of books — then picked up the comics book. When I decided it was time to go, she had been reading intently for a good ten minutes. I took that book out along with the two that interested me, and it’s sitting prominently on the dining room table. . . .

3 thoughts on “One Victory

  1. The strategy is superb, works in other contexts too. And perhaps here with other readers, besides La Pippa. E.g., the Ricoeur book sounds entirely fascinating – just as a topic, let alone how he would approach it. Central to so much – the tension between memory and forgetting being basic to so much of what we do and are. To compare small things with great: It would probably be a great book to toss into, among other things, the tug of war of journalism and blogging – just to complicate that tired anglo-positivist conversation.

    But what I really wanted to say is, how annoying it is that one who has books that should be written in him is driven to ignoring them by a frittering academia. Perhaps this is part of how institutions get more forgetting into “production.” Sabbatical any time soon?

  2. Thanks for the encouragement, Tom. I had thought that I was up for a sabbatical leave next year, but I had lost track of the fact that Seabury has an idiosyncratic leave schedule: we get one term of sabbatical leave for every nine we teach, rather than one semester of leave for each six we teach.

    So it is (as so often in Chicago) “wait till next year — or the year after.”

  3. I am reading Peter M. Leschak’s Ghosts of the Fireground: Echoes of the great Peshtigo fire and the calling of a Wildland Firefighter. It is one of the most layered, interesting, and compelling non-fiction works I’ve read in years.

    Peter M. Leschak has been a firefighter in both wildland and municipal settings for more than twenty years. He’s the author of several acclaimed works of nonfiction, including Letters from Side Lake and The Bear Guardian, winner of the Minnesota Book Award. Leschak has written for numerous periodicals, including Harper’s, the New York Times Magazine, the New York Times Book Review, and Outdoor Life.

    I thought of sending this on to you because Leschak, well in his words,

    “But another strain of desire was also heating up: I needed to know and understand the will of God. Not only from natural human curiosity about ultimate origins and fate, but also from fear….then in 1967, even as I fantasized about the military while fearing nuclear war, I first heard a preacher named Garner Ted Armstrong on the radio. I was mesmerized….I resolved to attend Garner Ted Armstrong’s Ambassador College in Big Sandy, Texas.”

    So the book is a meditation on Fr. Pernin’s written account of surviving the Great Peshtigo fire in 1871, Leschak’s time at Ambassador College and how he left, and how being a firefighter fits into his own calling.

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