Inspiration for these Saturday stories can come in the most unexpected ways. This week, The Engineer’s English teacher called me. As always, when I answered the phone and the caller said, ”Mrs.______, this is Mrs. ________, your third son (insert his real name there)’s English teacher,” my heart started thudding and I began to worry about what kind of trouble he might have gotten into (not that he is ever a bad kid, it’s just my gut reaction when a teacher calls my home). I was especially nervous when she said that he had blown them all away that day….maybe he really was in some unexpected trouble due to some random act of odd behavior! Then she told me that he reading lexile score had risen just shy of 500 points from the beginning of school. (For those of you who have no clue what a lexile score is, you may find this site interesting.) Anyway, it’s a big deal for a sixth grader. I congratulated the teacher for her fine work, she congratulated me for my fine work, but really, it was the Engineer whose mind “clicked.” He has finally gotten what reading is all about and the world of his imagination has just started to grow.
I started thinking about that “clicking” moment (for want of a better phrase). I watched it happen for both of my older sons, too. It wasn’t quite as dramatic as it has been for The Engineer. Last year, he struggled through the bare minimum requirements for reading. He enjoyed the Gary Paulsen Hatchet books, but he didn’t go out of his way to read. This year, out of the blue, he started reading The Hobbit. THE HOBBIT! I wondered if he would put it down after the first chapter, but he stuck to it and made it all the way through. Then he discovered Alex Rider. He has read every episode his school library owns.
The Thinker, (second son), read and reread the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books. Each time he was bored, I would find him reading one of them. Then, his aunt gave him a four book science encyclopedia set one year for his birthday. That opened the world of nature up for him. He loved nonfiction! I bought EyeWitness books and history books and he ate them up.
For The Musician (oldest son), it was Harry Potter. He was in second grade when the first movie came out. He was determined to try reading the books. He struggled with comprehension at that young age, so instead of giving up, he kept on reading the books until he got it. By the time he was in fifth grade, he was reading them as fast as the books came out. He branched out to other fantasy books, reading The Seventh Tower series at least ten times, Fablehaven, Eragon and the Percy Jackson books multiple times, too.
I am still hoping that magic moment will happen for my youngest son. He hasn’t discovered the worlds that books can open, though he is trying harder than ever before. He gets about a quarter of the way into a book and then loses interest, claiming the book is boring. When I suggest an easier book, one with fewer or shorter chapters, he claims those are boring, too. I know some people never become “readers,” but in a family that loves books, it’s hard to be the odd man out.
Even my little girl loves to pull out books and have them read to her. Right now, we are in the middle of Uncle Wiggly Bedtime Stories. She has started getting it out earlier and earlier everyday to ask me for her chapter. The nice thing about this particular book is that each chapter (or story) ends with a silly preview of the next one like “if the goldfish doesn’t bite a hole in his globe and spill molasses all over the table, tomorrow I will tell you about Uncle Wiggly’s trip to the dentist!” It completely captures her curiosity. She gets out the book and looks at the few pictures and tries to guess what will happen.