It’s just the kids and I tonight. At the moment we’re listening to a daily mix of instrumental music that Spotify has offered me while Jericho and Soren are tucked under blankets and reading on the couch. It’s so peaceful that me typing is actually the most irritating noise in the room.
Reading has actually been a point of discussion in our house lately. Jericho was tasked with doing a book report this term- he had to choose a book he’d never read, read it and then design a t-shirt that relates to the book, as well as write a report. And despite the fact that I would have said all my kids were readers, he found it difficult. The idea of choosing a book that he hadn’t read was absolutely anxiety inducing for the child- we seriously had tears and shouting and drama over the idea of it. In the end I went into the library and found three books that met the criteria of being something he hadn’t read and that he could write a book report on, and were books that I thought he would like.
(For the record, I gave him Contest by Matthew Reilly, Space Demons by Gillian Rubinstein, and Tomorrow When the War Began by John Marsden. He chose Contest.)
But even with only three choices in front of him Jericho was nearly distraught. Will I like it? Do you think I’ll like it? Are you sure I’ll like it? What if I don’t like it? What if I don’t read it in time? Do you REALLY think I’ll like it? He had to be told that he COULD read it in time, that he HAD to pick one of the three, that if he really didn’t like it he could stop…in the end I half yelled at him that there was no sinister plots on my end to make him read a book he wouldn’t like – I was as close to 100% sure as I could be that we’d picked books he would like! You’re a smart kid and a good reader, just pick one and sit down and READ!
Now I do realise that this whole debacle was more a result of Jericho’s anxiety than any problem he has with reading (and to be honest, his anxiety is a beast that we are so far from having conquered I sometimes wonder where it’s going to end) but it really made me think about how and what the kids are reading.
If you asked me, I would say that I am absolutely behind the idea that it doesn’t matter what kids read as long as they read. I really, genuinely believe that. BUT…does there come a point at which you should expect more?
My kids are all excellent readers. They always have been – in any reading or comprehension or English-related testing they’ve always scored above grade level to varying degrees. They’ve always enjoyed reading too- when they were little we always went to the library regularly and read picture books multiple times a day, and as they’ve become independent readers they all read voluntarily; it’s never been a big effort to get them to do their reading. So I am certainly not coming at this whole thing from a place of being unhappy with them, or thinking there’s a huge problem or anything.
My questions really are around Jericho and Soren. Nicholai’s sixteen, reads mostly non-fiction, has started reading fiction again since we moved here and have been going to library regularly again, he’s fine. Emmanuella’s fourteen, reads a variety of fiction and graphic novels, borrows from both the school and town library, also reads stuff from our shelves, not so keen on non-fiction, she’s fine.
Really, now that I’m writing it out, the fact that the older two have turned out fine is probably my answer…Jericho and Soren should just read whatever they want and it should come together in the end.
My concern is only that what they read is so limited that Jericho found the idea of having to read something new to be this monumental task. Basically the two of them mostly reread things. Diary of a Wimpy Kid, the Treehouse books, David Walliams books. Jericho reads Naruto graphic novels, which he came to through tv. They both read the Pokemon encyclopaedia a lot. I have no problem with what they read, I just wonder if I should be pushing them harder to branch out? I have always assumed that the kids would move on to reading new things once they were ready, but Jericho isn’t doing that. Is it something that will happen in time, or does he need a push?
I really don’t know. I mean, I realise that none of this is a real problem or anything. I might have a lot of parenting fails, but creating an environment to foster reading in my children is not one of them! The kids see their parents reading daily, we talk about books and reading all the time, there is dedicated time devoted to reading between tea and bed, they have access to school libraries, the town libraries and our home library (which between paper and e-books numbers over 4000 books) so they’re really living in an ideal situation as far as that goes. I’m sure it will work out in the end.
Really, I think this is probably more about managing both my anxiety (since as I typed this is became extremely clear that I am obsessing about something that’s really not even an issue) and managing Jericho’s anxiety, since his fear of anything new or slightly different is actually becoming really problematic. So that’s something to think about I suppose.