"To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark."
— Victor Hugo, Les Miserables
Over the summer Hazel turned into a real, bonafied reader. It makes me want to sing hallelujah! I want my kids to love reading. I want them to devour books. I want them to sneak them into their beds at night, bring them on vacation, try to read them at dinner, walk into street signs as they read while walking to school. I’m not sure where this obsession came from, maybe it’s that I wasn’t really a fanatic reader as a kid and I wish I had been. It’s not that I watched TV as a kid, I just didn’t devour books like Jeff did. There’s just something about raising a reader that is really important to me.
But, I have accepted the fact that I might get a kid who doesn’t naturally gravitate to reading. I might have a child who has some difficulty with it, or who’d rather be off with friends (like I was). And that’s ok. It really is, I know plenty of amazing people who don’t love to read.
I thought Hazel might be one of them. I tried to push her into reading pretty early, before she was really ready I think. And it didn’t seem to be coming naturally to her. We’d read through the “Teaching your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons” and both end up pretty frustrated with each other. She could tell that I wanted her to read more than anything and Hazel is not one to be coerced into anything.
It wasn’t until Jeff and I forbade her from reading that she got determined. I started “regretting” all the promises I had made to her, telling her NOT to get to the 25 book mark because I did NOT want to buy her that reading lamp I’d promised and I certainly did NOT want let her stay up late reading. She knew we were half kidding, but I think feeling the pressure lift gave her the freedom to do what her heart wanted to do: read.
Plus, I think she just got a little older and her brain was ready for it. And once it was ready and she had enough sight words under her belt, she just got it. And now, there is no turning back. This girl is a reader.
One night as I was putting her to bed she said, “mom, you know how I used to hate reading? well, now I love it so much, it’s like candy to me.” Ahhh! Music to my ears.
I asked her what brought around this shift. She said it was her friend Penelope who “inspired” her. She said she saw how much Penelope liked to read and decided she should give it a better chance. Bless that Penelope. The end of her bed is now exploding with books and she’s always begging to go to the library for new brain candy.
Jeff just started a reading challenge with her where they add little construction paper circles with titles of the books she’s read written on them to a little book worm that hopefully will creep its way around her room. She gets a quarter per book and then some big prize once she gets to one hundred. She’s hoping and begging that prize will be her first real pet. Jeff says we already have four little pets in this house.
So, if you have any suggestions about books to get this girl, let me know. I want to make sure all one hundred books don’t come from the fairy series or Junie B. Jones. Not that I have a real objection to those, I just want her to know good writing soon. There’s such a wealth of goodness in books that I can’t wait for her to discover. Send suggestions my way, please.
Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles W. Eliot