Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Here a Reader, There a Reader

Since she was very young, Adelaide has been an avid and enthusiastic reader.  It was something that came very easily to her; I didn't have to work with her or really teach her much after she grasped the sounds each letter made.  I remember how thrilled I was when I realized she was reading, but was it something we had to work at or slave over?  Never.

Not so with Atticus.

He's never been a particularly poor reader, he just hasn't shown much interest.  Did this bruise my sensitive reader's heart?  A little.  Not as much as I would have predicted even just a few years ago, though.  Thankfully in the intervening time I've come across a plethora of adults who admitted that, while they love to read now, they weren't big readers as youngsters.  This was a little shocking for me, who possibly spent more time in the pages of books than out, but was also encouraging when Atticus (gasp!) rarely picked up a book of his own volition.  He always loved to have me read to him- and still does, in fact- but he was no Adelaide, plowing through most of my old favorites before she'd finished kindergarten.

I've done what I can to try and pique his interest, and the book snob in me has been majorly tamed/beaten down/exsanguinated in the process.  Remember when Adelaide was seven and only allowed to read books I had first gone carefully over and approved?  LOLOLOLOL.  Yeah, no.  First of all, I would currently have to have an extra six hours per day to plow through all the books she consumes, and second, Atticus has zero interest in the classical path I managed to force Daughter down for a time.  Me from two years ago would likely choke on her only-Jack-London-this-week rhetoric if she could see the volume of Ninja Turtle trash fiction piling up in our boys' room.  But they're reading, okay?  Get off my back, former Kristy!

And it's working.
He wouldn't even come in the house yesterday afternoon, but insisted on plopping down there on the front porch because he couldn't wait to find out what happens next in Dragon of the Red Dawn.  I tried not to act overly excited for fear of making Magic Tree House somehow less cool in his eyes, but I may have blown this when I squeaked, "Oh!  OKAY!  Well, do you want a snack?  How about a freezer sandwich?  Everyone else is having a freezer sandwich!  Tell you what, I'll bring you one out here, just don't move, okay?  Just KEEP READING."  This compared to my usual after-school speech that goes something like, "Welcome home, my own darling darlings!  You may have this or this or this, but if you choose the snack that drops enough crumbs on my floor to serve as a makeshift burglar alarm, you will be eating outside, I don't care how many degrees below zero it is out there." 

At this point, in terms of reading, Caedmon falls somewhere between his two older siblings.  He doesn't love it as much as Adelaide (but really, who does?), but he's more interested than his brother.  Every week I bring home a coffee table book that rests on the desk in our front room when it's not being used for homework, in the hopes that just walking past some John Singer-Sargent will somehow make our children more cultured (probably I should go through the books with these kids of ours, but at this point, getting it in the door and leaving it lying open next to a main thoroughfare in our home is as much as I'm capable of).  This has enjoyed varying degrees of success, with the book on Monet being the most popular and the New York Times front pages book the least.  

This week the glossy book is on the Civil War, and Caedmon can't put it down.  He passes right by the photos of Lincoln.  He loves the photos of the cannon and soldiers.  He is gruesomely fascinated by the battlefield photos chock-full of corpses.  Again, past Me would be horrified.  Current Me can only sigh in defeat and microwave her coffee for the fifth time that morning. 

All this has led to a spate of Civil War interrogations from our resident five year old.  "Wait, who fought in the Civil War, again?  Well, which side were we on?  Does Grandma remember this?  Does anyone remember this?  If everyone is dead, then how do we know about the Civil War?  Do we have any books about the Civil War?  Can I read them?  Will you read them to me?"  All of which lead to this happening before breakfast this morning.

I'm leaving it to Derek to inform him that, when given the choice, you never pick Carl Sandburg over Shelby Foote.  It just isn't done.

After four minutes of light reading, he decided against the Sandburg and went back to the shelves, but this time found Maus, which I absolutely recommend to adults, but not so much for kids.  Besides, that's World War II fiction, son.  One war at a time.  Or none!  Can I interest you in some Ninja Turtles?
I had a hard time explaining that yes, Maus is illustrated, but no, it's not for you, Caedmon.  He finally relinquished his grip on my graphic novels after I promised him a visit to the library where we would check out no fewer than five Civil War books from the juvenile section.  Here's hoping my favorite librarians bring their A game to work tomorrow.  

As for me, I've recently run through a string of "it was okay," books and am ready for something to love with every nook and cranny and tiny, disused pocket of my heart.  I'm hoping this book, strongly recommended by my mother, fits the bill.  
No pressure, Ms. Bradley



    Harry Potter Battle of the Books. You can have teams of two to four, and some categories (family, I think) allow an adult on the team. You and Adelaide could probably rock that.

  2. Your mother is right! It's a fabulous book!

  3. I live with the disappointment that Emma will never be a reader. I wish that I had realized there was a reading disorder early on, so that I could have introduced her to audio books back when she still had time for leisure. I should have, given that both Rob and my sister have very similar reading disorders, and neither have ever read for pleasure.

    Now, I spend some of my evenings reading to Emma, but we don't have time for novels --today I read an article on the microbiome that exists in all of us, and yesterday I read four articles about the representation of women in the media and how it is promoting body image problems. All of these things were relatively interesting, and I know it helps Emma a lot to have me read them out loud (while she annotates her own copy), but it's not at all like sharing a wonderful story.

    But audio books take much longer to get through than reading to yourself, and she doesn't really have time for that these days. I've been hoping that this summer, when there is more time, I might be able to read a book to her again, so we could enjoy it together.

    I'm in the market for a new book, so I'll check out that one above :-)

  4. Give a holler if you need more Civil War books. There are a lot of new ones out too! Let us know what you think of the Bradley book; I've heard rave reviews so far.


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