Monday, November 21, 2011

Just read already!

This is going to sound like I'm bragging, but you will see in a minute that I am actually not really necessarily bragging. Maybe. Perhaps.

My son is an off-the-charts reader. I always knew he had an aptitude for it. Reading was always very easy for him to pick up. He never had any trouble with it and spelling also comes very naturally to him.

When he was tested for reading ability and comprehension at school, he scored the highest possible score. That didn't surprise me. Like I said he's always had a natural bent towards reading, grammar, etc.

Funny thing is, he doesn't like to read. Seriously.

We have always read books together. I read to him from the beginning, even when I was pregnant with him. I have tons of books that we have read over the years and favorites that we kept coming back to again and again. Goodnight Moon. Guess How Much I Love You. It's Not Easy Being a Bunny. Brown Bear, Brown Bear. Honey Bunny Funnybunny. Many of the Berenstain Bears books. Winnie the Pooh. Tons more, but you get the picture.

As he grew older, I continued to read books with him, but he also read alone. The Henry Huggins books by Beverly Clearly. The Boxcar Children. The Hardy Boys. Junie B. Jones out the wazoo. It was so much fun to introduce him to books I loved as a child such as the Fudge series by Judy Blume. The wonderful Ms. Blume actually just sent me a copy of Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing autographed to me and my son after I wrote her an email telling her how much her books have meant to me over the years. I love her.

Anyway, we've read a lot. I always made him read A LOT. I chose his books to make sure he was getting some quality material, but I also let him choose things that were literature-lite, but enjoyable (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, for instance.). His "school" books met certain standards, but for his pleasure reading nothing was off limits.

I thought I was doing everything right to turn him into a lifelong reader, but I have had my doubts.

It's always a chore to get him to read. He rarely just picks up a book without my suggesting he do so. Maybe that's a lot to expect from boys. I don't know. I just remember that I always had a book in my hand or on my bedside table. I was constantly reading and still am an avid reader. Of course, I grew up in a time when there was only one TV in the house and in the evenings it played my father's favorite shows exclusively.

I limit TV time. I limit video game time. I limit computer time. I sometimes make him read when he comes home from school, but, frankly, I don't enjoy doing it. I want reading to be something he wants to do. He knows how to read. That battle is over. He reads quite a bit during his school day, so it's not as if I think he's going to forget how. I just long for the times when some book calls to him and entices him to open its pages for long stretches of time.

Tonight something happened to give me hope. He has read the author Suzanne Collins before. She has this series about Gregor the Overlander that my son likes. She's also the author of the much talked about Hunger Games series. A movie based on the books is coming out in March. I've already told my son he will not see the movie until he reads the books. That's a tactic I successfully used with Harry Potter.

Last week I planned to buy The Hunger Games. Our only bookstore at the mall in Beckley closed, so I was going to order them from Amazon. My son had me check the library. I had checked it the week before and the books were out, but this time the books were available and we went to get them that same night. I have been reading The Hunger Games during the day and my son has been reading in the evening. I'm a little ahead of him in the book, so after he watched a show with his dad tonight he came upstairs and said he was going to read. YES!!!

There are 3 books in the series and I fully expect his enthusiasm for reading to wane a bit once he finishes them. I'll keep on the lookout, though, for the next great series of books for him to read. He has told me he enjoys reading series of books, so that is what I will try to find for him.

It's a worthy battle, I think. Seeing him with his nose in a book does my heart good. I don't think it's doing him any harm either.