Thursday, January 9, 2014

How Charlotte's Web and a Wimpy Kid got my son to read more

I love to read. I think I might have mentioned it here a few (thousand) times. My son, not so much. In fact, I might have blogged about that once, too. But that was then.

These days Chris reads. Not as much as I do but still, he reads. And his reading skills at school have improved a lot. This makes me so happy. Like, throwing flowers in the air and singing happy. Okay, maybe more like, Dude, High-five happy.

How did this happen? Well, at first I tried the traditional way of getting him into reading by choosing books based on what he was interested in. He liked Ninjago and Super Heroes so I got books about these characters. Here's how that turned out: The pictures were a big hit, but the books themselves were a Fail.

So then I started taking out some Classic Children's books from the library. Stories like Charlotte's Web, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Every night at bedtime I  would set aside 20 minutes to read to him which amounted to either a chapter or a few pages. Sometimes he would read to me but mostly I read to him. And something magical happened. He loved them. We're talking, full-on attention, "What do you think will happen next?" and "One more chapter, please?"

I also noticed that his book choices from the school's library changed drastically as well, from easy-to-read with lots of pictures to actual books. Then came the day he brought home Diary Of A Wimpy Kid.  This was a real game changer because not only did he like the books but he looked forward to each one in the series AND he sat down by himself to read. While we waited for each new Wimpy Kid book to come out I googled books that were similar and found the Big Nate series by Lincoln Peirce. This too became a favorite because like Wimpy Kid, it featured a young boy about my son's age who loved baseball and playing with his friends and wasn't a fan of school and homework. Finally! A merging of things he could relate to in a book!

We both look forward to this night-time ritual and spending time together. I even do different voices of each character because I'm a goofball mom like that. Chris loves when I do that. In fact, one night when I wasn't feeling well, Bill stepped in for me and assumed the role of reader. Chris later said that while he appreciated the effort it just wasn't the same: As he put it, "Dad did it wrong."  No, I did not sit there with a self-satisfied look when he said that. Yes, I am lying.

Of course, reading still loses out to video games and Minecraft. And I only read on school nights. But, I'm grateful that he has begun a love for books. And most importantly that I get to be there to share in that love.

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