I picked up a book at the library over the weekend called The Nerdy Parent's Guide to Raising a Nerdy Child, because how could I not pick that up? It looking interesting enough at first glance, but the first section was about Harry Potter and I was already exhausted because I am no longer capable of enjoying anything about Harry Potter that doesn't involve extensively worldbuilt Drarry fanfic, and even that is only on occasion. I have tried to find a middle ground with it when my kid's aftercare was doing HP themed events and Bug was really enjoying it, but mostly we ended up trying to find other books that had the things she liked in them.
This book talks a lot about how amazing it is to share the stories that mattered to you with your kids, and it really is terrific to be able to do that - P is currently reading Anne of Green Gables to Bug for the first time and her reactions as the story goes on are delightful - but after leafing through a book that talks about ways to share Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead with your kids, I felt like something was missing. There was hardly any kids fantasy at all, for one thing, even the stuff I'd read when I was a kid - there was a page on Percy Jackson, and a section on Lord of the Rings, which, fair enough, and that's the whole fantasy section. Sci fi includes Dr Who and Star Trek and Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica and like. Star Wars and the Hunger Games are the only two that are actually aimed at kids in the section, and also just as a pedant the fact that it lists ATLA under "anime and manga" is bonus levels of annoying me.
And then at the end it says again how wonderful it is to share interests and time with your child. And it is! But the thing that seems the most effective to me would be an equal measure of encouraging a child by learning about what they're interested in. Where's the discussion of making the most of kid's shows to teach them about writing their own stories, thinking about how worldbuilding works, finding ways to connect the dots from what they like to other stuff?
I think I have a lot of feelings about this because Bug has definitely struggled with her reading and we've been a read-aloud family since forever (P does an amazing Smaug, and Bug loved the Hobbit) and her bookshelves are equal parts books I've never read that she thought sounded neat and books P or I picked up because we loved them. I'm a big believer in having a whole range of skill levels of books in the house too, even though I liked it because I would go ham as a reader when I was a kid and Bug is not there yet.
(It's been kind of a struggle, since P and I were both early/strong readers as kids, so we had to do a lot of thinking about how best to support Bug with this. It mostly comes down to Support And Encourage like anything else, but it was definitely a thing I had to unpack!)
Recently Bug has brought some books into the house that she's been really excited about- they'd read a book called Bookwanderers at school and she wanted to find out how it ended faster, and it turned out to be part of a series. The series is called Pages & Co by Anna James and it's FANTASTIC by the way, highly recommended if the term "book magic" would get you to buy a book immediately. Bug also got really into Dog Man and its spinoff Cat Kid Comic Club, and while that's less my jam, she's reading them on her own and as far as I'm concerned that's book magic too. She mentioned being really into graphic novels, and I got to tell her I love graphic novels too, and I rounded up all my MG and YA graphic novels and put them on her bookshelf, and even if she doesn't read them right now, they're there and she knows we'll support her in whatever she wants to read. If she's excited about Dog Man, then by god, we'll go see Dog Man: The Musical or whatever.
Because I love her and I love seeing her excited, especially about books. She brings books everywhere now! She curls up in the backseat of the car reading while we drive somewhere! We're lucky to have a terrific local library with great librarians, so we can go in and say "Bug likes $SERIES, what else would she like?" and the librarians all give us good suggestions to start with, and we started Bug on an allowance this year but we're pretty adamant that used books are always something we'll buy her, so there's always more books around for her. Because reading is important and sharing stories is important, but the way to do that is not to just keep pushing stuff I like at my kid, but to figure out what brings her joy and then follow the thread to find more joy.
And watching her read and be excited about reading is absolutely a joy, even if it's full of potty jokes.