There is much written about getting your family to read.
I have read blogs about well adjusted, functional families who read until their eyes seize up in their brains. Babies who were born clutching 'Step Into Reading Level 2' books. Children who shun TV and computer games for the written word, and who can be found at all hours of the day and night clasping a book to their bosom, avidly devouring fiction, poetry, biographical tomes etc etc etc ... kids who are so eager they literally EAT books ... spit staples, chew words and swallow chunks of meaty prose.
OK ... maybe not.
Is it just me, or do others out there get a little ... is the word I'm looking for ... jealous? of the parents whose children are such wonderfully avid readers?
I thank my friend Sherri for pointing me in the direction of Pioneer Woman and her blog on a homeschooled family who read like there's no tomorrow. Her Idyllic world really does seem like a form of heaven. Children who go to bed early and curl up with a good book. Kids who, once their alloted screen time is up, dutifully trot to the bookshelf and select a new read. Kids who delight in visits to the book store, library or ... anywhere books can be found.
I love to read. I really do. And I would gladly give my new reading glasses for my kids to be as keen as me. (yes, reading glasses ... finally I have made it to Middle Age)
My children, like those of Pioneer Woman, are surrounded by books. Shelves and shelves of the things. They too are taken to places where there are even more books. Books stores. Second Hand book stores. Book fairs. Libraries. They too have been read to from a young age. They have a mother who read while they were in the womb, read while in labour. If the actual process of giving birth hadn't been so painful I would have read on the delivery table. If it was legal I would read while driving. I read whilst cooking, cleaning, gardening ... I read therefore I am.
My children read because they have to.
My oldest, now 15, used to read. But then puberty, followed closely by adolescence, rendered the hobby unfashionable. Who has time to read when there's all this texting to be done? And she was put off reading for a while after I, perhaps ill advisedly considering her delicate hormonally unbalanced condition, encouraged her to read Meg Rosoffs "How I Live Now" A truly wonderful book, but void of a traditional happy ending. My then 12 year old daughter was outraged, incensed that I had made her fall in love with the characters, forced her to become so entrenched in their world that she was unable to cope when things went wrong in their lives (actually I blame Meg ... she's the one who writes so well that we can't help falling in love with her characters)
My daughter sobbed and sobbed. She had wanted a fairy tale ending. She told me she was not ever going to read another book which did not include "and they lived happily ever after" on its final page.
My second oldest daughter was an avid reader. She would devour novels and poetry. She still does read, but not as much as she did. Her new laptop took over ... who has time to read when you can watch all those online episodes of The Simpsons ?
My third daughter has never liked to read novels. I have tried and tried to get her to settle down with a good book. I have read with her, to her, given her time and space and all the encouragement I can, but she just isn't into reading "stories".
She does,however, love the new Anime style of literature. And publishers seem to have cottoned on that there is a market out there. You can even get Anime Harry Potter these days. And writers too are becoming increasingly aware of children who can be drawn into a story by starting it with animation, then switching to prose, then back and forth, for instance G.P.Taylors series . She has also been forever interested in "fact" books ... big fat hard back books about Egypt, Wild Cats and How Things Work. And who can resist a book with the title "How Your Body Works" ... the chapters on the gory goings on of the digestive system are well thumbed.
My youngest daughter loves books but is slow to read. I am perplexed by a school system which purports to hold to the philosophy "every child is an individual" - telling parents that children learn to read at their own level; but which then sends out a panic inducing letter informing said bewildered parents that their child is failing a benchmark in reading. A slight conundrum I feel.
But I have no doubt that she will get there eventually. With all the books in this house, she doesn't really have a choice. And until she can form those letters and words herself into sentences that make sense, she always has me to come to. That is if she can persuade me to put my book down for the 5 minutes it takes to help her with hers.
- I have been married to Andy since 1991, we have 4 daughters, 2 dogs, 2 cat, 4 rabbits (and various baby rabbits) and a hamster (not dead). We have lived in the U.S.A since 2000, and are citizens of the U.K. I miss many things about the U.K.(pubs, old buildings, red post boxes, church bells,narrow roads, a good joint of roast lamb with mint sauce, to name but a few) but I have grown to love the U.S.