My husband finished our family read aloud of The Martian. Did I mention we’re bibliophiles? We also do not ban books in our home, just make suggestions on age appropriateness. Check out our other family read alouds….
I must admit, it really sparked my children’s imaginations, but also they’re love of learning the real history behind the NASA space program. We’ve watched several documentaries, reflected on our past field trips to the Neil Armstrong Space Museum, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, and The Museum of Flight — to name a few. My children have always been interested in vehicles, transportation, and our armed services. Having many members of our family proudly serve, it’s a natural curiosity and respect for those who help keep our country safe. It makes me proud to support our Armed Forces!
But, in reflecting on the book, The Martian does not have language for the faint of heart. There are many, gratuitous expletives, but then again — if you’re stuck on Mars, maybe you would resort to benign 4-letter words in your frustration. Hopefully I’ll never know! While I may have tired of it, my husband was reading it aloud to my children after having just read it himself. He and the boys were fascinated by the preparedness of the main character, Mark Watney, and his MacGyver-like survival skills. Many of the subplots were interesting too — such as the media response, how countries interact, and the globalization of such a mission may have further implications than just one man, one country, one mission. It gave a depth and breadth to the experience that simply couldn’t be captured by a documentary. No one has ever been stranded on Mars!
What I value in our reading is not only the quality of the work, but the capacity for the story to inspire further reading, learning, and discussion. I don’t think either of my children are thinking that someday they may be astronauts, but maybe they will. Maybe they’ll understand the value of a good story told, how it isn’t just about making money on book sales or movie deals, but communicating your vision, your ideas, to an audience. In wrapping up NaNoWriMo, this was an extremely powerful vision I was happy they had.
With The Martian wrapping up its’ theatrical run, the boys are excited to see it in the theatres with their dad — and I’m so happy they have the time to learn and enjoy their time together.
What books inspire your family to learn and do more?
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