The joys of reading children’s books as adults
In 2019, James Holzhauer made game show history during a winning streak on the American game show Peril! earned him nearly $3.4 million in prize money. At the time, it was the second-highest amount ever won on the show, although two contestants have since racked up more.
Holzhauer made headlines not only for the amount he won, but also for his aggressive strategy, which was to answer the toughest questions first and bet big when the game allowed. Like The New York Times written at the time, it was as if Holzhauer had done Peril! his personal ATM: the 34-year-old’s “huge payouts and vast winning margins almost feel like he broke the game”.
But Holzhauer did not break the game. He had plenty of know-how from his career as a professional sports bettor in Las Vegas, and an unlikely secret weapon in his back pocket: children’s books. “I found that in an adult reference book, if it’s not a topic I’m interested in, I just can’t get into it,” Holzhauer said of his preparations for the quiz. . “I was thinking, where in the library can I go to get some suitable books to make things interesting for indifferent readers? Boom. The children’s section.
I’ve been thinking about Holzhauer lately because I’ve learned some fascinating things from children’s books too. In that mysterious way three-year-olds get their obsessions out of nowhere, my son loves anything plastic. So I bought him a book on the subject and thought I would have a hard time doing it. But then I learned that plastic was originally invented as an environmentally friendly alternative to ivory for billiard balls. And this plastic itself can be made from, among other things, algae. And then I started to get interested.
The plastic children’s book made me more aware of how I use plastic in my daily life. I knew – in the most vague way possible, the same way I think I shouldn’t drink the water from the bathroom tap, or avoid saying “Nice to meet you” in case we got together. we have already encountered – that it was not easy to recycle plastic. But according to the book – called, aptly, Questions and answers about plastic – I’ve learned that’s partly because even in cases where you can recycle plastic to make more plastic, you have to add new pieces of plastic to the mix. (No one has said “plastic” this many times since The graduationBesides.)
To all this you could say that I should have listened better in 10th grade science. You’re right, and to Mr. Slade, I’m sorry that I didn’t try harder to understand photosynthesis. Yet another chance to learn how the world works, no less in midlife, has been the unexpected joy of raising young children. It even changes my behavior in small but significant ways, making me less inclined to pick up a supposedly “recycled” straw at the local coffee shop.
The wonder of being able to share with our children books that we loved when we were children is a more familiar concept. Over the years, friends have spoken of the joys of revisiting Harry Potter with their young – or The secret gardenor seven little australians. Parents hope and even expect their children to develop a love of reading by being read to. Yet I never thought that the fun of reading with children could go the other way.
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