Raising An Avid Reader… Failure?

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Reading some National Geographic fact books we found at the thrift store.

So I love to read. I don’t read as much fiction as I did before I had Z, but I still make time to read non-fiction. I especially love reading to my kids. Its an excuse to read more of the old classic series I use to read as a child. I feel being a parent is the perfect excuse to keep reading all the awesome series designed for children, without anyone batting an eyelash. I’m also the person who left the movie theater in an uproar after each Harry Potter movie.

My 10 year old on the other hand, he’s not an avid reader. He would much rather watch the movie and skip the book. This drives me BONKERS! I just can’t wrap my mind around this one. I refuse to watch the movie, “The Time Traveler’s Wife” because I know it will ruin the warm fuzzy feelings I have about the book. That is what happened when I watch the movie “Where the Heart Is”. How can he not like cuddling up with a book and getting lost in another world.

Where did I go wrong? When I was a kid my personal library was on the thin side. I mean I know that in retrospect, it wasn’t thin in the eyes of a lot of people. But for a little book worm, it was not enough to feed my hunger. We were living on a single income and my mom did buy me the books that were on sale in the scholastic flyers, but a lot of the time they were not to my taste.  I did what I could to get my hands on books, I reread books, saved allowance money, borrowed from friends and the library. Now the problem came when summer came around. We lived in a small town, and the only libraries I had access to were in the schools. That meant they were shut down during summer. I’m embarrassed to admit, I even went as far to steal books during the year from the library to have things to read. Sometimes I returned them… sometimes I didn’t *blush*. (Note to self, make a donation to my old high school library.) I later discovered that I could order books from a mail service library. I’m telling you, back then this BLEW MY MIND. The first thing I did when I moved to the city was get a library card.

So as a mother, who when as far as stealing books to read, how come my child, who has a library I would have KILLED for couldn’t care less to pick up a book.

Well that was until I realized I hadn’t found the right materials yet to bait him. Also his reading comprehension issues affected things too.

Looking back there are a few mistakes I made with Wes which I think may have stunted his love for reading. I’m trying my best to not make the same mistakes with Little Z. (… anyone else feel bad for their first child. I often feel like he was my practice child. I made my mistakes with him and try to avoid them with Z. Especially when my boys are almost 7 years apart. *sigh*)

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I put some books that I needed to sort through in a playpen to keep them away from my daycare babies. Little Z climbed into it to check them out.

 

I didn’t start reading to him soon enough. I mean I read to him, but I would get discouraged when I didn’t think he was into the books, or really listening. I should have keep on reading. With Z I have made storytime part of our routine, just like brushing our teeth.

I focused on LEARNING to read, instead of learning to LOVE to read with Wes. Now with Z, I’m teaching him how to read, but also constantly reading to him without expecting him to read anything.

So is Wes a lost cause?

I’m happy to say he’s not! Last week Wes and I went to run some errands, on our way to pick up Z from a friends, Wes was in the back reading an Archie comic. I had bought it at a thrift store months before, and it was sitting in the back of the van all this time. When we pulled up infront of my friend’s house, I asked him, “Would you like to come in or keep reading your book?” I assumed I knew the answer, but he shocked me when he replied without lifting his nose out of the book, “I’ll wait here and keep reading.” It’s worth noting he LOVES my friend, and she also has a son his age that he loves too.

When I got back in the car I asked him if he really liked these comics. He told me he did. So I suggested he call Papa(my dad) and ask him if he could borrow some Archie comics from him. I told him I think he has a collection. I knew darn well my whole Archie collection was collecting dust in their basement. He called and Papa said he had “a few” he could have.

Back when I was a little girl, my Memere (French for Grandma) had this sweet old lady named Irene as a neighbour. They lived in the foyer in our home town. One day she stopped in when my brother and I were visiting. She was shocked to see us nicely putting away our colouring books and crayons where they belonged, and the toys my Memere had for us to play with were all in working order. She told my Memere that her grandchildren were awful with toys. She would buy them a doll and the next time she went over, it would be naked and missing limbs on the floor. From then on, whenever she when on vacation, instead of bringing back her grandchildren souvenirs she would drop stuff off at our home for my brother and I. One day she called my mom and asked her if we would like to have her Archie comic collection. My mom knew I would be over the moon. Little did we know her collection consisted of HUNDREDS of comics. The nerd in me was in my glory. I sorted them by series and issue numbers and read them all.

Sadly when I was 10 Irene passed away. Since this post seems to be getting personal, I may as well share. I remember the morning she passed, I woke up and all I could smell was cigarette smoke. No one in my home smoked and my window was closed. As I got out of bed, our home phone rang. It was my Memere, Irene had passed away. Irene was a heavy smoker. In my heart, I feel like she was coming to say good-bye. I still tear up thinking about that day.

But 20 years later she lives on in my heart, and her generous gift is blessing my now 10 year old son.

At the beginning of the year, I made a bucket list. I have to go back and check, but I do know that one of the items was for Wes and I to read 12 chapter books. We kind of snuffed off on that, we are sitting at 6 I believe, might be 7 as I think I forgot to write down a Geronimo Stilton book we read. We have still been reading, but just not chapter books.

But it’s not too late! I think we can make our goal in the next 6-7 weeks. We just finished “My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish” this week. I suggested to him we start “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by Roald Dahl, because my 9 year old step daughter is reading it for fun. She is an avid reader, with reading skills I would have killed for at her age. I thought maybe they might land up chatting about it. But he wanted to read “George’s Marvellous Medicine” by the same author. “Then we can read “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Mom.” he said. His old teacher read it to the class, and he wanted to read it with me. I haven’t read this Roald Dahl book before so I agreed.

So do I think he will become this avid reader who can’t get enough books to read? Honestly, no. But I think he likes the time we read together, and will remember that when he’s older. I also think he will be a good reader, just not someone who will always have a book with them. And that is ok. I could have done everything right with him in regards to reading and he might still not be an avid reader. But he is an amazing mathematician and builder. These are his strengths and I’m proud of him.

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