My middle schooler has had a love-hate relationship with books and reading. She learned to read by the age of 3. I had nothing to do with it! She just *did* it. Firstborns are always pretty precocious, and she takes the cake in that department.
Her interest waned slightly by January of her kindergarten year (in public school), but really sunk to an all-time low in 2nd and 3rd grade (another public school) where one particular teacher simply refused to let her read non-fiction. I have a nerdy science girl. She WANTED to read facts and figures about earthquakes and animals so she could be like the Wild Kratts, but it was against this teacher’s policy. Policy! She felt it was discouraging to kids if they read books above their reading level. She didn’t seem to grasp that what she was doing was equally discouraging.
Unfortunately, the school believed in the practice of ‘looping’, meaning you get the same teacher for two years in a row to “develop an understanding”. Well, that is great in theory. When you are ‘looping’ with a teacher that does NOT click with your child, it flat out sucks!
It made YEARS of trips to our local, public library. My daughter refused to come, but I brought back armloads and armloads of books, fiction and non-fiction, to try to entice her to read. She picked at the books the same way a child shoves his Brussels sprouts around on his dinner plate to avoid eating them. It was so sad. I love to read. Her sisters love to read. Yet, she told me she hated it and didn’t even like books. I knew I just needed to chip away at the wall she put up to protect herself from that teacher.
“Oh My Gods” fed her love of Greek mythology. *chip, chip*
The “Minecraft Handbook” series let her learn more about Minecrafting techniques. *chip, chip*
“The 13-Story Treehouse” introduced her to fun authors like Griffiths and Pilkey. *chip, chip*
“Lumberjanes” turned her on to graphic novels and #GirlPower *chip, chip*
This year, my biggest goal for homeschooling was to simply get her to love reading again, to enjoy curling up with a good book, to realize how satisfying it is to get lost in a good story.
In August, I grabbed a copy of “The Lost Hero” for her. She still loves mythology so I just let it sit out, tempting her. Finally, I asked her if she had seen it. She replied, “Yea, but it’s 553 pages long!” I played it cool. I shrugged. Whatever.
Well, it took almost 6 weeks, but she FINISHED! I didn’t bug her, but I did require daily reading — in her pjs, in the tub, whatever, wherever.
The first words out of her mouth when she finished that last page?
“Can we go to the library and get Book 2 in the morning?”
Yes. Yes, we can.
I plan on using these discussion questions tomorrow over coffee (hot tea for her), but just in a casual way. I don’t want her to overthink reading, to consider it a chore.
And, instead of a writing assignment (she’s a prolific writer and story teller), I have something else planned. I asked her to reduce the plot of the story and make it fit into a few, blank comic strip boxes. It doesn’t matter if she squeezes in the whole story, from beginning to end, or just one scene. Her choice.
You can download free, blank comic strips all over the web. I got ours here.
I realize that this isn’t the 100 meter dash, that one 553-page book won’t instantly return my book-loving child to me. I plan on using the 2017-2018 school year to slowly pace ourselves, to stretch her reading muscles, to return to her first love.
But first, we have an errand to run tomorrow morning 😉
Do you know a parent
struggling to help
a reluctant reader?
– or –
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