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Thank you, Junie B. Jones, for making reading fun again

Submitted by on Tuesday, 5 January 2010 No Comment

junie_b_jonesBig Guy had big news just before the holidays. He’d been promoted to the hot-pink dots under the school library color-coded system for deciphering reading levels, meaning he now was allowed to check out “chapter books.”

He came home that day proudly toting his first selection – “Junie B. Jones, First-Grader: Jingle Bells, Batman Smells.”


It was an “ugh” based solely on reputation. The Junie B. Jones books weren’t around when I was a kid, but I was well aware of the current-day literary holy wars the series sparks. Junie – er, make that Junie B., because everyone forgets her B. – is a mouthy brat with atrocious grammar. She’s a trouble-maker with a bad attitude.

But she’s also rip-roaringly funny. And she’s inspired Big Guy to again be interested in reading for fun.

It hasn’t been that way for the past year, as he’s worked through the mechanics of figuring out how this “words on a page” thing works. He’s waded through boring books with uninspiring, if any, plots. The books he’s been interested in reading, meanwhile, have been nonfiction pieces about the military, sharks or snakes. Problem was, he couldn’t quite master those on his own.

Then along came Junie B. and the precious hot-pink dots at the library.

He giggles at her antics. He tisks-tisks at her trouble-making. He can’t wait to tackle new chapters each night.

He and I read them together, side by side on the couch like we’ve done since he was a baby except now we take turns on alternating pages. He can read them independently if he wants to – and he sometimes does in order to provide entertainment as I’m cooking dinner – but the joint ventures are fun for both of us.

It’s nice that reading is fun again.

Does Junie B’s brattiness bother me? Not in the least, because Big Guy recognizes it for what it is. “Aw, she’s going to be in trouble for that,” he’ll say.

Am I appalled by her atrocious grammar? No, because Big Guy knows better. Sometimes, he’ll correct it as he reads, not even noticing that he’s read the wrong word which is really the right word. It would be too much of a headache to stop and explain all of that, so I just let him continue.

If you overlook the grammar – really, Vanna, can you sell that kid an -ly? – the books are well-written. The language is colorful – Big Guy learned the concept last night of having a “squeezy” stomach – and the sentence lengths are varied. Big Guy and I both can relate to the stories, he as the perpetrator, me as the eye-rolling mom.

You want a good old-fashioned yarn? Junie B provides it by the skein.

And I’m so thrilled, because that’s what’s been missing from our repertoire for the past year.

Copyright Debra Legg 2010. All rights reserved.

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