Me, my little one and The Martian

If you are a reader, chances are, you are a book hoarder too. At any given point in time, there are bound to be books around your home, and you may even be reading several books at the same time. If you are a neatness freak, they would be properly arranged and have a place of their own, but if you are big on reading and not all that big on cleaning up, then they would be all around the place (like mine). 

But, on top of being a reader and a book hoarder, if you are a parent too, then chances are, your children have access to your books all the time


Now, on the one hand, this is a good thing. If kids see parents reading and generally see books around the house, chances are, they will develop the love of reading too, when they grow up. But there is also a downside to it - your children have access to all your books! And this is serious. 

No, I don't mean embarrassing in the 'oops, my kid got hold of my copy of Fifty Shades of Grey!' way; (although, there is that too...) 

But I am nervous about the design on the cover page as well as the synopsis on the back cover. For example, I read multiple books at a time and my current hoard is made up of See Me by Nicholas Sparks, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, Dark Places by Gillian Flynn, The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd and The Martian by Andy Weir (impressed? well, I surely am!) Anyway, my point is, with a book cover like the one for See Me and a title like Dark Places I am having a tough time trying not to worry about which of my books my little one is handling at this very moment. You may not believe me, but having an inquisitive six-year old, who is also a budding reader, in close proximity to your books; is very, very worrisome. 


Why, just the other day, we were driving home from school and my little one asked "Mum, what is 'screwed'?" I missed a beat! Almost lost sight of the road for a moment; and asked her where she had heard the word. "Its in one of your books Mum, the one with the astronaut's face on the cover!" she replied; and I remembered, sure enough, the word is right there, in bold highlighted red colour, on the back cover of my copy of The Martian!  


I was stuck in the car, in the middle of running traffic; and clearly had no way of escaping the question. So, I explained to her that it was an adult word, that meant that the person saying it was in deep trouble but it also had other meaning which I would explain to her as she grew and became an adult herself. I knew that the immediate next question I would get, would be "what other adult meanings?" and to avoid that, I decided to change the topic with what came to my mind right then; and (if I may say so myself) in hindsight, that turned out to be the best thing I did!


I asked her if she knew what the book was all about; and told her at length what the premise of the book is. She was not so surprised about the "astronaut being left behind" part (she is six, many of her books have themes of kids getting lost or left behind accidentally - Home Alone, duh!); but she found it funny when I told her that the he grew potatoes on Mars, made water out of gases; and lived all alone on a red planet, that was more of a desert; in a huge tent that is called as the Hab!


From there began a beautiful daily ritual where she began asking me everyday about the stranded astronaut, Mark Watney's attempts at surviving on Mars and his efforts at establishing communication with the people back on earth. It was fascinating for her to know that it takes about nine months for something from the Earth to reach Mars! I mean, it was fascinating for me too - in fact, I learnt quite a bit about space and Mars, particularly, since I began reading this book; and I am glad to see my little one's eyes grow huge in surprise and disbelief every time I tell her about one of Watney's escapades. 


This is one book that I have been able to doubly enjoy - once when I read it myself, for the book is so full of wit, humour and attitude, (Mark Watney is smart, witty, funny and down right incredible!); and once again, when I share the day's story with my little one after school; and believe me, that is definitely something! As readers, we come across many books that we love, books that make an impression on us, books that are thought provoking and books that stay with us long after we have read them. But the real joy of reading is when you can share the story with some one; and who better to share it with than your child?


Boy, am I glad I picked up The Martian to read; and even gladder that I left it lying in plain sight, right on the coffee table for my little one to find it!


P.S. This is not a read aloud book, as it had several words and phrases that are not suited for young, impressionable ears. But it is amazing to share the story with young, inquisitive minds, in a bedtime story format :) 

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