To say that my son is a reluctant reader is putting it mildly. I’m not sure when the problem started; he used to adore reading books together, and being read to. Of course, he used to also get away with staying up late by begging me to read his favorite books “Just one more time, Mommy”. Then I’d see him dragging the next morning and realized he needed sleep more than he needed to hear Goodnight, Moon for the umpteenth time.
I guess his dislike of reading really emerged around the time we transitioned from homeschooling to public school in third grade. At that point we were introduced to the Accelerated Reader (AR) program which confused both of us greatly. See, the name makes it sound like kids are challenged to read books on the higher end of their skill level purely for extra credit. In practice, it’s a task they’re assigned over and above homework, with participation in fun classroom activities dependent upon their performance. And how is that performance assessed? By a test, as if kids these days aren’t being tested enough.
So my son, when presented with his quarterly AR goals, balks at them. Most books that capture his interest are a mere 2 or 3 points, while his goal was consistently closer to 20. For those doing the math, that’s one and a half books per week, assuming he scored 100% on the test for each, on top of his homework. Last year, that homework took nearly two hours a night. Needless to say, when faced with the chance to get outside and play once homework was done, or to sit and read for the 30 recommended minutes each evening, he chose playtime. Can’t say I blame him.
One thing I wish? That his teachers knew about the Reading Rainbow video series with its 153 episodes on a variety of themes designed to intrigue kids and point them to books that will capture their interest. Perhaps with some guidance like that, along with the activities and curricula ideas, we wouldn’t have floundered around looking for books that would appeal to him. As it was, we didn’t find any last year, so my son never did make his AR goal.
Oddly enough, that doesn’t seem to be a problem this summer. See, I picked up the Lemony Snicket series at a garage sale not long ago. If you’ve ever read one of those books, you’ll know that the back cover warns kids to go pick a different book — any different book — because this one’s probably going to spook the heck out of them. Reverse psychology? Of course. But it’s brilliant, I tell you. My kid’s finished the entire series in the month that school’s been out, and today he announced he’s starting back over at Book One so he can experience them all again.
Now, if only he’ll hurry up with it so I can start reading them, too!