Wonders All Around

Learning Alongside My 5th Grade Wonders


#SOL19 Day 16: Diving into YA

“Hey, Mom. What did you think of Challenger Deep?” my son asks as he walks up to me with his earbuds in. I pause typing and look away from my report card work to give him my attention.

“Is that what you’re listening to now?” I reply, buying myself some time as I replay the story in my mind. He’s 12, and I’m trying to figure out what conversations I might want to have with him about this tale.

“Yah, I started it yesterday,” he says, hitting pause.

“It’s an incredible story. What do you think about it so far?”

“I like all of the imagination. Like when he says he’s on a ship and stuff.”

“I don’t think I’m giving away any spoilers with this–I’m pretty sure these details are mentioned in the book descriptions: the main character in the story is a teenager dealing with schizophrenia; that’s a mental illness. Some of the things that his brain tells him are happening are not actually happening in real life.” As I’m saying this, I back on my computer scanning reviews of the book on Goodreads.

“That’s what I thought.”

“The book has won many awards, and lots of people have given it 5 stars. I don’t know if you’ve gotten to this part yet, but I remember that the character ends up in a mental health facility to get some help.”

He fills me in on some of the events he’s heard about in the story and looks at my screen as I scroll through the reviews. “Those are the stairs he talked about,” he says when I reach a post that includes an Escher print.

“One other thing you may want to be aware of is that talk of suicide comes up in the story. We can talk about that or anything else sometime, if you want.” I pause and then continue, “I think this is a great story for you to listen to. It’s definitely written for more mature kids, and I bet you’re ready to understand these ideas.”

He takes that to be a good place to leave the conversation, nodding and resuming his audiobook.

I’m not entirely ready for him to move out of middle grade books, but no one stopped me from reading Clan of the Cave Bear when I was about his age, and I’m not going to stop him either; in fact, I’m already creating a mental list of other YA books I might suggest he try!

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