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Welcome to the Horn Book's Family Reading blog, a place devoted to offering children's book recommendations and advice about the whats and whens and whos and hows of sharing books in the home. Find us on Twitter @HornBook and on Facebook at

On Madelyn Travis’s “Thank Heavens for Hugo, or When Size Matters” (from 2011)

In “Thank Heavens for Hugo, or When Size Matters,” children’s literature scholar Madelyn Travis wrote about her efforts to encourage her then-seven-year-old son to “love reading” and her worry that “if he doesn’t, he will miss out on one of life’s great joys.”

Lordy, do I get it. Though my kids were toddlers when I first read Madelyn’s piece, which appeared in the September/October 2011 Horn Book Magazine‘s Books in the Home column, I remember thinking how helpful it was to have a window into the relationship between a book-loving mom and her somewhat book-indifferent child. Seven years ago, we were in a different phase of my kids’ reading lives, but I could still identify with those parental worries and concerns.

What I find helpful now, in addition to those reflected anxieties, is how familiar Madelyn’s description of her son and his friends sounds: “Samuel (and many of his friends) happily sit in front of the TV or computer for hours, or stand around swapping football cards—not much running around happening there.” Here we’re knee-deep in Pokémon cards, but…yeah.

Madelyn’s love note to Hugo is worth spending time with — a reassuring reminder that raising readers is an endurance endeavor  worth the effort.

About Kitty Flynn

Kitty Flynn is consulting editor for The Horn Book, Inc.

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