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Respecting Differences

My daughter Annie and I read together quite a bit. About six months ago, we read Ann M. Martin's Main Street #1: Welcome to Camden Falls. In the beginning, Annie was sad because the girls lose their parents in a car accident which is like her worst fear. As the book moved forward we both began to fall in love with the characters. Annie was interested in how everyone in the book reacted to a character named Robbie, a sixteen year old boy with Down Syndrome. We stopped and did a little research, talking about what Down Syndrome is and how people with Down Syndrome might be different from us. Annie loved how a couple of the girls in the book were fiercely protective of Robbie. She kept asking me to re-read scenes where Robbie is mistreated until one of the characters steps in.
Fast forward to this weekend. Annie and I were headed on a two hour trip in the car. We stopped at the library to pick up an audiobook for the trip. Main Street #2 was available and we were both excited to hear about our old friends and their adventures at the Needle and Thread.

You know that moment where you have to decide if you can like an audiobook based on whether or not you like the reader? It initially passed the test. We liked her voice and we didn't even mind that she was acting out the parts--something we don't usually appreciate. Then, it happened, the actress chose to use a stereotypical voice for Robbie. She talked with a nasal tone and sounded slow and not very bright. I didn't say anything because I didn't want to wreck Annie's experience, but I didn't like it. It went on for a bit more and then all of a sudden Annie said, "Can you turn this off please?" I turned it off. "I don't like how that lady is talking for Robbie. How does she know how he is going to talk? I don't see how that is any different than those girls who were making fun of him. I don't want to hear it ever again."

I love her.


  1. Good for your daughter -- and for you!

  2. What a great slice -- moving us right into the heart of the reading experience. I was struck by that shift and pause from reading the book to hearing the book being read, and what that move potentially does to our connection to the text. Also, of course, I applaud the empathy of your daughter.

  3. Great post, Kim! I love the connection and conversations you and your daughter are having through these books.

  4. Wow! What important lessons your daughter is learning! I wonder if she would want to write to the publisher of the audiobook and express her opinion.

  5. I love how you waited for her and allowed your daughter to have her own reaction to the audiobook. What kindness! What empathy! Loved this slice, my friend!

  6. It is a satisfying moment as a parent when we see this level of empathy and caring from our children, a cosmic high-five that affirms you are doing a great job. I hope your smile lasted a long time. :-)

  7. There is so much to love about this post, the relationship between a mother and daughter, reading together and learning life lessons. But good ole Annie! She got it. I applaud you for waiting and letting her make that decision. You are giving her life experiences and her own voice (which is a pretty awesome one at that!).

  8. What a slice Kimberley! The experience you share with Annie from the reading MS #! to the audio book moment is says a lot about your and your daughter. As Kevin said, you bring us to the heart of what reading is all about. The things we learn, the characters we love, and how reading makes us better humans. Lovely slice. Lovely girl!

  9. What beautiful lessons we learn when we read, and it seems that your waiting to see what your daughter would think is wonderful. She got it, didn't she? Maybe a next step is to write the producer to share her experience and thoughts? I'm glad you shared with us, Kimberley.

  10. Wow. I love that your daughter was so firm in her feelings and so fierce in her connection to these characters. It must have been a proud Mama moment.

  11. Kimberly, I like how you held back your thoughts and that your daughter came to the same conclusion. You must be truly proud of your daughter and her beliefs that were apparent.

  12. Very empathetic and kind. Always, choose kind. :)

  13. Lovely - you book ended this review beautifully with your Annie, and what the reading/thinking experience is like for children, who are so curious about their world and looking for answers in the books they read.

  14. Wow!
    I have turned off an audio tape or two based on the reader's voice, not the author's work, but that was the best reason to turn off that one.


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