I will say that again, because it is so deeply etched into my soul, I have to:
I believe that every child can learn to love reading.
Now that was cheesy. But I get cheesy when it comes to this (and a few other) topics.
All of my children are readers. They pretty much have no choice. We don't watch TV except for a family movie night once or twice a week (one of these is usually a documentary night, because I like to make things educational—we were arguing yesterday about whether or not the documentary should be about plastic bags or bees. Made me smile.) We don't own any video games or computer games. We are way too busy and scheduled, but I like to pretend we're not.
My kids main source of entertainment is books.
So in that environment, yes, all of my kids are readers. Every one of them sits down with a book at least some point in every day.
They are all so different. Each one of them is a unique individual come straight down from heaven, and each one of them reads differently. By that I mean, they view, look at, digest, interpret, desire, and enjoy books very differently.
So I will be posting about each child for the next few posts—their styles, how I help them find books, how I've tried to help them love books. Maybe you will see something of your own children in these posts and get some ideas for your family. I want my children to love books FOREVER! Not just because they have nothing else to do here.
So to begin:
Mary Claire Eyre
Can you tell I made her take these pictures for this post? And that I have no photographic talents whatsoever? Especially with my laptop? And then Flannery wanted to take some pictures, so here I am with my oldest and youngest. Squooshed.
Mary's Age: 12
Interests: sociality, animals (she has her own rabbit now), earrings, trying to sneak on makeup, clothes, biking, drawing, music because I make her :), and yes, books
Scattered. She reads when she eats, she reads while going to the bathroom, she reads when she has nothing else to do. Does she ever stop and think about what she wants to read? Not much. She generally picks up whatever book is sitting in front of her, reads until something else comes up, and never picks up the book again.
Does she like to try new kinds of books?
Does she like to push herself in any way shape or form while reading?
Are these behaviors likely to produce a lifelong reader?
I'm not sure. Probably not, simply because her number one choice is fluff, and fluff is fun and good and often restful and necessary, but it doesn't leave you with a big, satisfying feeling at the end that you have walked in someone else's shoes and arrived at a better place because of it. And that, I believe, is what will sustain reading through adulthood.
What, you say? How is this going to help me? How will this help her? What are you talking about? Are you homeschooling her just so you can control her reading?
No. I am not. I am homeschooling her for many, many reasons, the number one being time. She is a musician and an artist, and with school and three hours of homework every day (she's only in seventh grade!), there is no time for anything extra, including good reading, because guess how many books she was going to read in language arts this year? Two. Two books the entire year. They were fine books—The Outsiders and The Giver, but on their own are they likely to inspire a lifelong love of reading? No. So homeschooling just has the added benefit of letting me give her books I know she will love but she will not pick up on her own.
So she has to read an hour a day, just straight reading, and I get to pick.
Hooray! Bliss for me! Total and rapturous joy!
Right now she is reading this:
The Cart and the Cwidder by Diana Wynne Jones. This is a push for Mary. There is (gasp!) a boy narrator. She doesn't really love fantasy, and there is no obvious romantic element.
She struggled through the first fifteen pages, and yes, there was whining, but, thankfully, I have energetic eyebrows, and they convinced her to keep going, and by the end (she finished this morning), she was mad because there wasn't a sequel.
My approach with Mary involves two things:
One—sticking books all over the house where I think she might find them and pick them up and read. Yes, that includes the bathroom, and yes, that makes my house very messy. These books are often fluff, and they are often picture books. But man, there are some GREAT picture books out there.
Two—cajoling her into reading books I know she will adore, but would never in a million years pick up on her own. Yes, I have the advantage right now (who knows how long I will be homeschooling her) of being able to force the issue, but I did this even when she was in school. It takes balance. It takes humor. It takes energetic eyebrows and patience, but it is worth it, because with each book I've forced upon her, she's laughingly acknowledged afterwards that it was really, really good, and with each book I give her that she loves, she trusts my tastes even more.
Am I careful with what I give her—yes!!! I do not give her stories about dogs. Ever. But I do give her anything good that has even a hint of romance, because that will often be enough for her to keep on turning the pages (though she hates kissing in movies...???)
Does Mary read how I would like her to read? Not at all. Only one of my children does. But does she love books? Yes. Does she love a good Scholastic Book Warehouse Sale, you better believe it, and does this make her a more confident, calm person from the inside out. I think so.
So I will keep trudging on with her until she's out of my house and all I can do is call her on the phone and say, "What have you been reading lately?" and "You have to read this book. I've ordered it from amazon, it will be at your house in one hour."