20 October 2006

A Beautiful Tolerance For Incomprehension

On recently re-reading Meet The Boomer Sisters to my girls, I found myself worrying a little about the vocabulary. Did I use too many big words? Was this something kids can really understand? Did I inadvertently go over their heads (I mean, accidentally go over their heads - inadvertently being perhaps a too-big word).

Today, though, I read a fantastic article in the online version of Good magazine, which put my fears to rest. The author, Michael Silverblatt, explained
"The art (as opposed to the technology) of reading requires that you develop a beautiful tolerance for incomprehension. The greatest books are the books that you come to understand more deeply with time, with age, with rereading."

He goes on to explain that it's good to read stuff you don't understand at first blush... and to stick with it, continue reading & re-reading it over the years. That's the path to deeper understanding, and incomprehension is a big part of it (so is perseverance, of course). He writes:
The clearing of the fog of incomprehension is the yardstick of growth, every kind of growth...
This left me quite comfortable with what I wrote & how I wrote it. It also emboldened me for the second Boomer Sisters book, which is in the works. I'm going to go ahead and use the best words I can find, even if they are unfamiliar to the average 2nd grader, trusting in the power of a child's imagination to beautifully accept the incomprehensible bits (if any).

1 comment:

Steve Sherlock said...

Yes, a a father of two daughters (now both in college), I would heartily agree with that. Of course, I might be somewhat biased as I introduced them to Shakespeare and Tolkien early on but by reading aloud. They hung on my shoulders and attempted to read along as well and over time they did. The oral identification of the words I think helped alot. I know for my own understanding, hearing a word in context is much better than trying to determine its pronuciation or meaning when standing alone.