Thursday, May 8, 2014

Becoming a Reader

I'm testing this story out for a project that I am working on. What might you learn about being the parent of a young reader from this story? Please leave me a comment! And if you have your own stories, I'd love to hear those too. Thanks.

I walked into the room, and there they were, my six year old twins, lying head to bent knees on my son’s bed, each with a book propped against their legs.  My daughter wore her pink sunglasses, despite the fact it was bedtime and the room was dimly lit.

“You’re up for teeth brushing,” I said to my son.  He reluctantly put down his Lego magazine.  My daughter ignored us, continuing to read her Junie B. Jones novel.  A few minutes later, “Okay, Megs, it’s your turn,” I said.  She didn’t budge.

I turned and walked across the hall to the bathroom.  “Let’s go,” I called, getting frustrated.  She did not follow.

“MEGAN,” I yelled.  She sauntered into the room, her small sunglasses still perched on her nose, her face in the book.  I couldn’t help but smile - because this sight in front of me rarely happens.  My daughter is not my reader.

My twins could not be more different in their love of reading.  From his toddler days my son would curl on an adult’s lap, engaged in a book, whenever he could.  Once he started to decode, he learned quickly, advancing in levels of reading without much effort on my part.  

My daughter, on the other hand, has never loved to read.  She has always been willing to sit dutifully to listen to bedtime stories, but given another choice, she almost always picked journaling, singing, or playing beauty parlor for her pre-sleep activity.

I always suspected that her disinterest in reading came because of a perceived competition with her twin. He was a good reader.  She, in her mind, was not.  And she didn’t want to compete in a contest  that she knew she would lose.  Because she struggled with decoding, reading wasn’t enjoyable for her.

Until recently.

A few weeks ago she received the soundtrack to the movie Frozen.  As a lover of “tunes,” she easily learned the melodies of the songs, and she could sing most of the words.  She learned, however, that ALL of the words were printed in the leaflet inside the CD case, and within the day, she was carrying the booklet with her everywhere.

I found her lying on the couch, reading the lyrics.   She asked me if it could count for her “20 minutes of reading” required each day by her teacher, and I said, “sure.”  She wrote it in her reading log.  She took it in the car.  She carried it into restaurants.  Within a week, the dog-eared pages resembled those of a well-loved book.

And now, just a few weeks later, books have replaced her leaflet.  Though reading is still not her go-to activity, she has moments where she just can’t put the book down.  She is a reader.

That realization hit me as she walked into the room with those sunglasses on her face - and she proceeded to read the book while I brushed her teeth.  “I’m sorry I yelled,” I said to her.  “You were reading, and that’s a good excuse to ignore me --- sometimes.”  She smiled, but not at me.  “Junie B. Jones just did the silliest thing!” she exclaimed.  

“Tell me about it,” I said.

And she did.

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