Smile, Sisters & Guts


Now that I’m super old, I don’t really remember things from a long time ago, like: how old was I when I got into books? Did I always love reading? Was I good at it, or did I just like it a whole lot? I can’t remember a time before reading and writing was a massive part of my life, but it’s not like I was born with a book in my hand. (Note to self: check with my mum in case I was.)

I‘m not a kid, but now that I have a kid, I can see how that happens for her. She’s always loved being read to, but reading on her own? Not so much. Then last year, when she was seven, she came to visit me in the bookshop I work in and saw a copy of Sisters by Raina Telgemeier on the shelf and asked me to get it for her. She’s an only child, and siblings are VERY interesting to her, so I thought, why not? I can read it to her, sure.

But then I didn’t have to. Because she went and read the whole thing on her own. She asked for time to sit and read it. Pals, I have NEVER said yes so fast. Reading with my kid?! The DREAM!!

Sisters is actually book two in Raina’s series about her own life. My kid has now read all three, one million billion times each. They are worn out and dog-eared and the spine is cracked and I adore looking at them. They are so clearly read and loved. I remember books from my own childhood that I read into pieces. Gosh, they’re amazing. And thanks to those books, she now loves to read other things on her own. She’s a massive fan of graphic novels. Her favourite stories are real-life ones, but she reads whatever, now. Sometimes we read together on the couch and I’m about the happiest person alive when we do.

The other day someone online mentioned that the Smile series mentions a lot of issues and I thought I should probably read them too in case there was something we needed to talk about. And so, during two intense days, I read all three. There were a couple of issues things I had a chat to my kid about, but nothing very dramatic–more like “how would you act if your crappy friends were like this?” or “do you think Raina treated this person the best way?” (sorry, sorry, I’m sure these types of questions are a real eye-roll for kids, but I’m a parent and I can’t help being a bit annoying.) Most of the things she wasn’t sure about she’d already asked me when she read them herself. What I talked to her the most about were my favourite pages. Because they are all GREAT! Really funny and super relatable and interesting. Smile‘s about a big few years of Raina’s dental drama, Sisters is about a road trip where Raina and her sister are not looking forward to a looooong time together, and Guts discussed what happens when your feelings (and other things) impact your health. They are exciting and interesting and you know what? I think I might reread them too.  

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