Thursday, March 27, 2008

Reading Lessons

"Why should I read these when better versions are availble on DVD?" It was hard to beat the logical issues raised by one so young. Saying "The books are richer." didn't satisfy the way a good musical number with singing crabs could.

With my first child, I read to him every day from the time he was two. I was obsessive about it and sure enough, my diligence bore fruit. He entered Kindergarten already a solid reader. By second grade, he was handling the third Harry Potter book when it first came out without my help.

My subsequent daughter took a little bit longer, but dove into big books as soon as she got the hang of things. My third child, always striving to ensure I didn’t mistake her for her older sister, held out on falling in love with reading until third grade. Then she discovered…if you’re reading, Mom doesn’t make you clean…and it became a favorite and preferred activity.

Three kids past third grade, three solid readers…a good track record.

But numbers have begun to wear down my endurance for returning to Green Eggs and Ham and Curious George. I have allowed the later children to delve into questionable reading material like Captain Underpants –in part because my son would read with his older brother –and I didn’t have to look at it.

For my fiver, she delighted in such fare as "Tinker bell finds Her Place," a story so sugary I considered the possibility of injecting insulin after the fifth reading. Plus, reading aloud, both my son and daughter like interrupting and that drives me nuts. They are not into the reading world yet, not in the transported way my older three are. The words haven't yet successfully cast a spell over their brains.

When I introduced Charlotte’s Web, my son wanted to know when we’d get to the part where the gosling danced with the pig. In the Gingerbread Man, my kids asked where Donkey and Shrek were. My daughter was thoroughly put out by the unhappy ending of Hans Christian Anderson’s Little Mermaid, and they were completely outraged by the way some authors had the audacity to rework the stories of Winnie the Pooh, Stuart Little, and even Harry Potter. My son, being a visual learner saw books as being so old fashioned. "I'll just wait until the movie version.”

I wanted my son and daughter to take to reading with a bit more enthusiasm than they do vegetables, or my husband does leftovers.

Being a good mom, I summoned my inner Sebastian…(Sung to “Under the Sea”)

“Inside a book…
Inside a book…
The story is better
A real Page turner
Just Take a Look!
Those Words Create a bigger scene
Of a Place You’ve Never Been!
And in Full Color
If You Take the Trouble
To Just Read a Book..”

Maybe I’d have fared better if we hadn’t been in the library, or if I had a backup band of singing bass and clams.

However, he did grudgingly put back the movie book version of the Pirates of the Caribbean Part III and agree to check out “The Trumpeter Swan.” (the assigned book for the next book report). And she checked out the original Peter Pan. "Tinker Bell is in this one too!" she told me in a knowing half secret. "The librarian told me!"

I picked out "The Rough Faced Girl," an American Indian version of Cinderella and a younger version of "The Once and Future King."

Eyeing me with suspicion, my son glared at my selection. "I bet it doesn't have any pictures."
Some day they’ll thank me I’m sure.

In the meantime, I’m going to work on my Swan and Dance number.

For more reading material as exciting and entertaining and transporting as dancing fish, try!


Renee' Barnes said...

Love it! Very well done, Sherry.

elasticwaistbandlady said...

I can so relate! My oldest daughter reads constantly. However, we really slacked starting at about the fourth. The love of reading has not taken root yet in the 3 youngest.

I'm waiting for some sort of reading pill to solve that.

elasticwaistbandlady said...

Oh, and I can only tolerate funny books to read out lous to my younger kids-especially if they rhyme. I love rhyming books! Anyway, reading "character" stories like Winnie The Pooh is way too much work because you feel like you have to read it in the character voices and they tend to be too schlocky.

We love these:
The Seven Silly Eaters
Is Your Mama A Llama
4 Pups And A Worm
Beethoven's Wig
The Toughest Cowboy
Snug House, Bug House

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