Thursday, March 07, 2013

The kid with his head in a book

My 5-year-old made a fascinating discovery the other day. He can read! Of course, he knew he could read words on signs and worksheets and in his picture books and the like. But the other day he discovered that, really, all books have words in them, even long chapter books, and if he wanted to find out what happens next in Peter Pan, or the Magic Tree House books (insert number here, we're like on 18 or something) he didn't have to wait for an adult to read it to him. He could just pick the book up and read it himself.

It's kind of a fun moment. I remember a similar moment when I was around that age and my parents had been reading me some book (I forget which, now). I wanted to see what happened next, so I kept reading. I soon learned that books had great stories, and you could become completely absorbed in those worlds. Once, I was wondering around outside reading a book and I stepped on something sharp. I was too absorbed in my book to pay much attention. When I finally put down the book later, I noticed blood all over my foot from a rock or some such. I was just too engrossed in the story to care.

My son seems to have inherited a bit of this as well, because we're now trying to establish a few reading rules:

1. No reading during family meals. I won't say no reading at the table, because I've been known to read the newspaper in the morning if the kids are doing something else and I'm sitting with my coffee. But if we're all there at dinner, it's not the right time for Dingoes at Dinnertime.

2. No reading while walking. Apparently the bus driver made sure my son got off the bus at his stop (I'm sure he would have kept reading to the end of the line, otherwise), but he was reading while walking down the bus aisle and down the steps. Not a good idea.

3. No reading while someone else is trying to talk with you. A difficult one to be sure, as no doubt 9 times out of 10 whatever is happening in the book is more exciting than whatever the other person is trying to convey. Nonetheless, we need to be polite, and put the book down and answer. That's why one learns to go hide away somewhere in the house if you want to read undisturbed.

What rules do you have for voracious readers?


Jo in OKC said...

No reading while walking would have helped me. I literally walked into a sign-post.

Pretty much the only punishment that ever worked on me was limiting me to 2 books a week. That was when I was older, though. I can't remember what I was in trouble for, but I remember that limit -- it was hard!

When my daughter was little I stopped letting her buy Magic Treehouse and other similar books, even with her own money, because she would finish them so quickly (often before we got home). They were okay for checking out from the library, but not for buying. If they had been favorites that I thought she was going to read many many times, then things would have been different.

Calee said...

I got 7 stitches after walking while reading a choose your own adventure book.

nicoleandmaggie said...

We recently had a discussion about how it's ok for DC to read at the dinner table at our house (he's currently really into Owl and Ranger Rick at the dinner table which also doubles as the place we put the mail), but it's not ok for him to do that at other people's houses because he needs to be polite.

We don't have a ton of rules at our house, but we do try to guide him with what's appropriate in polite society. We don't really consider home to be polite society though. Lights do go out at 8:30 because we've found he's likely to be late for school if he stays up any later.

He's read through the Magic Treehouse books multiple times and seems to like rereading the A to Z mysteries even more. At Scholastic prices, I think they've been a good investment. Especially since the library rarely has all of them in stock. I did relent on a Cam Jansen this past month even though they only take 20 min to get through (and the library has tons of them) because it was a couple dollars.

Anonymous said...

Head to the Gutenberg Project and look at their children's book section. Download or print because some of them are good books that we read as children. I have read my way through many a junior/high school hall way so I understand the issue well.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on that happy milestone! Our idea is to read everything we can get our hands on! We use all of the libraries around us and visit the libraries even when we travel. Even internet reading counts, but notice the source. I have heard people state that the NYTimes is the gold standard for writing. We read the papers where we visit, too. We tell our child that it will be very helpful to peers to have someone around who loves to read. (So happy to hear about another great reader!)

Becca said...

Family story:
Early in their relationship, my Dad and my Mom were walking completely in step, hand in hand, each reading their own book, up the front walk to my Dad's family home. My grandfather looks out and shouts "POLLY! Come look! I never thought he'd find one just like him, but he did!"

No reading while walking? Bah!

Laura Vanderkam said...

@Becca- I love that story! What a perfect match!

Leslie said...

I used this strategy to encourage the older son to read independently when he was about six. I would read something aloud and stop at a particularly exciting point, then challenge him to keep on going. He's now 25 and still a voracious reader who loves, and who has worked in, libraries.

When my younger son was ten-ish, I wanted him to read David Copperfield, which was one of my favorite books at his age. He was somewhat reluctant, so I asked him to read it aloud to me. Once he got started, he really got into it, even giving the characters their own voices. This was the only book I ever forced him to read, and looking back, I wish I hadn't done so, even though it did create some good memories.

You have children younger than five, so you'll continue reading aloud to them all, but I know of some children who resisted reading independently because they thought that their parents would stop reading to them. We always loved reading aloud as a family, and I think the last time we did it, the younger son was in high school. Both boys are now men on their own, and we all continue to share books with one another through lively recommendations.

I hope that these reflections from someone on the other side of homeschooling are useful to those still living with young children.

Anonymous said...

When I was younger, I could read and walk anywhere. Now I just get motion sickness when I try to read while moving (even when I ride in a car/bus/subway). The other thing to remember is that it is not always impoliteness when a reader doesn't answer. To read in this world other things have to be tuned out - often things like people's voices.

Anonymous said...

Some kids can'r fall asleep after reading in bed because it's too stimulating. I wasn't expecting that.
No reading during playdates is sometimes a good rule, sometimes not.
Always have a book handy is a good rule.
If you like to read in the car, and want other people to be quiet so you can, wear headphones instead.
Don't read your siblings' books until they finish.

Anonymous said...

We had to take fiction books out of my daughter's (10) room. She is usually in there to sleep or get dressed, etc... and fiction books were just too distracting. She can read in other rooms of the house, just not that one. Seems silly, but it has eased the tension for those times of the day when we need her to be doing other things.