Stacey Loscalzo

Dec 05

Books With a Story, Please

by Stacey

IMG_4068I had been drafting a post in my head throughout the week about Uri Shulevitz’s new book Dusk. I had read it and thought it was the perfect book for the holiday season. The book tells the story of a boy, his grandfather and his dog as they explore the world at dusk. The reader follows along as the group watches families enjoying Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanza traditions, each celebration centering on light.

I was prepared to tell you that Dusk was the go-to read aloud book for class parties. The book to give to any child on your holiday shopping list.

And then I read it to Katherine.

Half way through (and it is a short book!), she asked me to stop. After I made her stick with it until the end, she told me she didn’t like it. When I asked her what she disliked, she quickly replied, “I wanted a story. Not just words.” The words in the book are sparse and while there is a story line, it isn’t exactly a plot driven tale.

I’ve often thought about the fact that many of the children’s books that adults like are not the books loved by children and vice versa. I suppose our experience with Dusk is yet another reminder of the power of choice in a child’s reading life. So here’s to more books with a story in Katherine’s world.


  1. Hmm… interesting!  I’ve had that experience with a few children’s books, but it’s usually ones that have really artistic/esoteric illustrations and not much in the way of a story.  Dusk still sounds like a really good book, though – especially for winding down at bedtime.  I think I’m going to see if our library has it.

    • Stacey says:

      Sarah- It is definitely worth checking out. I thought it was sweet but also enlightening that while I loved it, Katherine didn’t. A needed reminder sometimes!

  2. jules says:

    I’m like you. I love Dusk (and wrote about it for my Kirkus column that goes up later this week). But, YES, children respond so differently. We actually have a chapter in our book about this. It’s called “Kids Love ‘Em, Critics Hate ‘Em … And Vice Versa.” It’s so important to remember children aren’t going to love what we love. 

    • Stacey says:

      I already couldn’t wait to read your book- now I’m even more excited! What a great chapter title!!! I believe it is spring but do you have a release date? 

  3. Jen Robinson says:

    My daughter is 3 1/2, and I just for the first time had the experience of her complaining directly about not enough story. Before that she would just say “maybe when I’m older.” But I think that’s what she meant 🙂 Fortunately for her, I like things that are pretty plot-driven, too. 

    • Stacey says:

      I love it! “Maybe when I’m older.” What a perfect response and yes- I am sure you are right that she was talking about plot. And I’m with you. I am a plot girl too! 

  4. Shana Norris says:

    My kids definitely go for plot-driven, and I did too as a child.  I’m always undecided about which I prefer now that I’m older.  I can get through a plot-driven book much more quickly, but it’s the character-driven ones that stay with me for months and even years.  In a perfect world, a book would have both.  But most of the time, that’s not the case.

    • Stacey says:

      So true Shana. I must admit I am still plot driven myself although there are certainly characters that stay with me for a long time. 

  5. Tracie West says:

    I love how she said it was just words and not a story. That’s interesting. I’m always drawn to the illustrations in books and especially kids books from the cover it looks like the illustrations were good. I also love what jules says about kids love um, critics hate em. Movies sort of go that way too.

  6. A powerful observation by your daughter, Stacey! How interesting. And it does show how widely our reading tastes vary, even in the same family. Excited for our GNB Best of List next week!

    • Stacey says:

      Thanks for stopping by Jennifer. I do find reading preferences so interesting. And I too am so excited for next week!!

  7. Nina says:

    Everyone is definitely different! There are some books I see rated well online to find that I hated it. Then there are books like you said where we think they’ll be awesome yet the kiddo can’t sit through it.

    That’s why I love it when we stumble on a book that is just so well-loved. Those are the ones I like to recommend.

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