My son is not a big reader. He's a typical boy, more given to wrestling and drums than sitting still and reading. Nevertheless, his school has an Accelerated Reader program that requires him to read a certain amount of books each quarter (and take tests to prove he read them ;-) until eighth grade. Each year, it's gotten harder and harder to get him to find a book, and fill that point quota. He's in fifth grade this year, and he started the year with the familiar complaints about AR. Then he came home from the library with a book that he was all excited about.
And I just had to laugh.
Several years ago, I had attended the BEA conference and one of the publishers was handing out a CD sampler of its new releases, in this case young adult books, something I didn't normally read (at the time anyway. Who knew I would end up writing YA for Harcourt four years later).
On the drive home, I listened to the CD, mainly because I had finished the book on tape I was listening to and was looking for something new.
Of the five books on the CD, three I didn't like and two I did. I bought both of the ones I liked, so I could find out how they ended. And read one from cover to cover, as engrossed as I would have been with any adult novel. To the point that I put my regular work aside, anxious to get to the next page of the story, to find out how the author would resolve the plot. It was that good, and that well written. I immediately bought a second hardcover copy and donated it to the school library, and told both my kids (at the time my daughter was still in elementary school) that they should read it for AR.
I got the rolled eyes response. No one took me up on the offer. I even put my copy on their beds, offered to read it to them at night. No takers. A year went by. Another. Another. I gave up.
Then my son comes in, four years after I read this book, with the same exact hardcover copy in his hands, exclaiming about this amazing, incredible book he just found in the library.
The book is the The Saint of Dragons, by Jason Hightman, and it's incredible. It's about dragons existing in modern day, and a 13-year-old boy recruited by his father (who has little experience as a dad, so there's a lot about the mending of a rocky relationship) to battle them. Fast-paced, vivid and engrossing, it had me from page one.
I am thrilled to see my son reading this book, sitting down every day to turn a few more pages. Even more thrilled to see the book's check-out card, filled with stamps. The corners of the hardcover are worn, the pages dog-eared. The book has clearly been well-loved and read, over and over.
But the best moment came yesterday when my son came to me and said, "Mom, can I ask you a favor?"
"Do you think you can start reading Saint of Dragons with me at night?" He held the book to his chest. "I'd really like to read it with you."
"Yeah," I said, smiling. "I'd like that, too."