My daughter has lots of books and wheedles us into reading her too many each night before bed. One book in particular, which is set in a library, is a real favorite. It has relatively long paragraphs on each page, but she will listen to it over and over, enjoying the illustrations of the mouse who is the protagonist.
Recently, however, while we were reading this book, she stopped me as I began to read one of the pages. “I don’t want you to read that one,” she said. “Should I go to the next one?” I asked. She nodded, and we finished the book. The next time we read it, the same thing happened. “That page is too long for me,” she said.
In this book all of the pages explain what the main character (the mouse) is doing or the reaction of another character to what the mouse does. All, that is, except for the page that my daughter asked me to skip. This page is a letter, asking the mouse for something. It is a long letter. It isn’t action, it isn’t reaction. My daughter knows what the letter says so she doesn’t miss any of the story if we skip it and go to the next page, where the mouse is reacting to the letter.
The letter might have worked for my daughter if it was shorter. Or, even better, if it was the first sentence on the next page, followed immediately by the mouse’s reaction. I’m hoping my daughter is too young to be much affected by our “quick-cuts” society. I think she may just know what she likes in a story: she wants action happening in real time, creating a picture in her mind.
We all want that in our stories, don’t we.