‘Twas the month before December, when all through the night,
the mother stayed up, feeling rather uptight.
The children were all nestled, snug in their beds,
while mom hugged her laptop, in Christmastime
dread. The stockings weren’t hung yet,
the tree wasn’t there, still she shopped for
perfect presents and suchlike fanfare.
Tis the season. The season of stress. There are photo calendars to be made and delivered, gifts to buy and crafts to make, and not a sleigh or a magic reindeer in sight. Santa, you’ve given us parents a lot of bag to hold, you know. Because while advertisements inundate us and our children whine, we know just what we don’t want to do for Christmas: spoil our kids! And yet, how can you not? Wouldn’t you feel like Scrooge if you didn’t stuff your kids’ stockings and pile up presents under the tree?
My goal as a writer, an avid reader, and especially as a mom, is to wrap up as many books as I can, rather than more toys. Oh, there will be a toy or two, especially if the grandparents have their say, but what I want most for my children is the gift of opening new worlds. But no matter how many books you accumulate, if they aren’t of interest, you child will never appreciate them. And this difficulty can be tenfold when you have a child on the spectrum.
Having a son with Asperger’s, I have experienced first hand the difficulty of prying open a reluctant mind. While exceedingly smart, little Aspies are known for having a narrow focus. If my son had his way he would eat, sleep and breathe Super Mario. And sure, there’s enough Mario paraphernalia out there to cover a decade or more of Christmases, but that doesn’t mean he has to have it all, or that he should have it all! And while I’m all for using favorite characters to keep a child’s interest in reading, I’m also all for introducing kids to new characters and new genres that they might not pick up on their own, but might really, really enjoy.
So how do you do it? How do you get your child interested in poetry or historical fiction when they refuse to peek out of their own tiny shell of interests? You read it to them anyway. Use your discretion of course; find a short comic version of Moby Dick, or a picture book to pare down the heft of The Wind in the Willows, but find a version that works and read it to them. Because if you show interest in it, they will notice, and at the very least, will find some part of that story to enjoy. My son, by the way, adores Mr. Toad and his wild obsession with race cars. Even though it isn’t Mario. So get on Amazon and Goodreads and start searching for something new to read with your kids over the holidays. There are plenty of “best of” and “award winner” lists on both websites to choose from.
And if you happen to have a reluctant Aspie, check out the list I started on Goodreads, and please feel free to add to it! Having been unable to find any recommendations on Goodreads or Amazon for great children’s books for kids with Asperger’s, I decided to put together this list of my son’s favorites. No, more specifically; favorites he didn’t think he’d ever have. He and I will continue adding to this list as we keep discovering books he loves, and I hope it will help other frustrated parents find a few treats for their own picky readers. Just remember, if you show interest, they will too.
Happy holidays, and happy reading!