When I read, I don't answer questions that make me reflect on the book. I read for the sheer enjoyment of it. I use reading as a way to escape from reality. What purpose would I be fulfilling if I took that sense of imagination away from my son? Yeah, OK, I hear the arguments of teaching him to think critically about what he is reading, about how to analyze author's purpose, and talk about character traits. I get it. I know all the proponents of reading responses, discussion and analyzing a text. Been there, done that (in fact, I think I still have a hoodie with that on it). But, (as I have argued with myself about this time and time again), The Monk is 8. He doesn't really need to know what Buldeo's purpose was for telling lies in The Jungle Book or what Rudyard Kipling's purpose was for even writing the stories in the first place. He just needs to enjoy reading it. The fact that my 8 yo son is reading The Jungle Book and can discuss the characters and whether they are good or bad is good enough for me. He is reading it independently. He is talking about the differences between Baloo in the book and Baloo in the Disney cartoon. He is enjoying the story and allowing his imagination to enhance his experience. Truly, that's all that's really important when it comes to fictional books (non-fiction texts are a different matter and belong in a different post).
As he gets older and we explore deeper, more meaningful and complicated texts, then yeah, maybe, I'll go back to downloading novel studies and reading responses, because, there really is a place for critical thinking about a fictional piece of writing. I know that. But we aren't there yet. And that's OK. One day we will bust out the unabridged, grown-up version of The Jungle Book and analyze Mowgli's growth and how his character changes from beginning to end. One day. Today, we're going to snuggle under a handmade quilt on the porch swing out back and just read. Because we can.