The Reluctant Reader

Two summers ago finding a book my son actually wanted to read was the mission. It greedily consumed all my free time. We started with a book that had no words. It was a relatively long graphic novel. We were able to work through what was happening in the story together. I watched his eyes search the images for clues, brows tense. The book got him used to larger books and peaked his interest in what exactly a book could be.

Next, I decided on another graphic novel, this time with words. Earthling! was a HUGE success. He read the entire thing in one day. He requested time to read. This was the turning points in our literacy journey. I knew two things: He likes space and pictures. With this in mind I selected The Ricky Ricotta Series and presented the books to him nervously, hoping for another reading miracle. Unlike the graphic novels before, these books have PARAGRAPHS. Huge gamble, I know. The subject matter was very interesting (it followed the same outer space theme) and the images really helped him move along the series. He knocked the entire series out in a matter of days. I literally felt like a super hero. Like if there was a mom dream team I would get drafted. 

This triumph really got the reading ball rolling. Here are a list of other books that worked well for us during independent reading time.

  • The I, Funny Series :: At first I read these to him, now he reads them on his own. They are by James Paterson and he has what seems like a million kids book. I have been considering starting him on the House of Robot Series but I purchased the latest I, Funny book about three days ago. My son loves that Jamie Grim, the main character, is a comedian. He is also in a wheel chair and has suffered great loss. There are a lot of serious life lessons woven into the story and a lot of great insight into how to be a great friend
  • The Captain Awesome Series :: He was constantly walking over to tell me about some silly thing that happened in the book, sometimes he would just start laughing while reading. This is a series he plans to follow. 
  • The Usagi Yojimbo Series :: We found Volume I of this in the kids section of our local comic book store. I think some people would not allow their child to read it but it has become a sources of great conversations. He absolutely loves it, each volume is about 500 pages and he can't get enough. When he finished Volume I, I refused to purchase Volume II so he decided to reread Volume I. I could barely believe it. I recently bought Volume II and he carries that thing everywhere. This is by far his favorite series. 

There was a time when I felt the weight of not having a "reader". I wanted so badly to roam bookstores and read side by side with my little human. I had to let it go, because in the end, that dream was way more about me than it was about him.  He would much rather dig a whole and look for bugs or just run and scream. That it totally fine. One of the most difficult and important lessons of our education journey has been embracing the to beauty of multiple intelligencies. People with all kinds of interests and strengths become successful :: that is my gentle reminder when I am freaking out. 

Since I let it go we have had a few moments that gave my racing heart pause. We went to Whole Foods and he decided he did not want to walk around with me; instead he wanted to sit and read the books in their small book section. I sure did let him sit his cute little tail right there and read while I shopped in the next isle. Another time we went to Open Books Chicago and he diligently looked for a book he wanted to read. He picked up book after book and read the back. He also read an entire small comic while I waited patiently in amazement, not wanting to shift the mood. We walked out empty handed but I knew he was actually interested in the possible of discovering something that interested him. 

Literacy has been a journey of patience, faith and acceptance on my part.