My Reluctant Reader

I love books.

I think I’ve always loved books.

When I think back to my childhood, a great number of the good times are linked in some way to books. I remember walking to my local library and eagerly searching the shelves, hopeful that there would be another offering from a favorite author.

I remember reading books about witches – there was the little witch whose socks did not match and her hat was always crooked, and books about vampires – a little vampire, who just wanted a friend (he did not sparkle). There were books about groups of friends who solved mysteries together, and books about brothers who found adventures all over the world.

My reading homework was always completed ahead of time. When told to read chapter one, I’d get to chapter three before remembering I was supposed to stop… sometimes I’d keep going anyway.

I remember learning the word ‘unceremoniously’ from “A Gift from Winklesea” by Helen Cresswell and my mother laughing with astonishment that I didn’t stumble over it at all.

I can remember getting gift certificates for my birthday and Christmas and being overjoyed that I could go spend them on new books.

Sometimes choosing which new book to buy was a tough decision. There were many variables to consider. Did I enjoy the previous one by that same author? Was I willing to risk my cash on a new-to-me author? Did the cover look good? Was the blurb on the back interesting, or did it give too much away? How many pages? Sometimes this was the only way to choose between two finalists. I’d always pick the thicker book, wanting more bang for my buck.

Ah, the joy of owning a new book, the anticipation of diving into a new story. The love of books found me at such a young age and it has never left.

And now I find myself mother to a reluctant reader… and I am dumbfounded.

You don’t want to read? *speechless*   *gears in brain grinding*   *does not compute!*

Ohhh… I see! Just not that particular book, okay what about this one? This one? This one? This? Surely there is a book here that you will want to read!!!  *hyperventilating*  Read something!

My boy never liked to sit in my lap while I read him a story, he was always off again before I’d gotten half way through. I’d take him to toddler story time at the library and he’d spend the 20 minutes climbing under the chairs at the back of the room. Yes, we were eventually asked to leave 😦

In kindergarten he had the teacher who had the best record of creating early readers, he learned nothing.

By first grade I was nervous, thinking he’s supposed to be reading now, what am I going to do?

Thankfully his first grade teacher was no stranger to reluctant readers. I’m not sure how many books she tried him with week after week, but at some point she introduced him to “Skippyjon Jones” by Judy Schachner and saw a sparkle of interest.

And because of Skippyjon, my boy started to wonder if other books might be fun too.

The summer between first and second grade we read every week, every Skippyjon title from the library came home with us at least twice, along with some others that the boy was finally willing to try.

Over the years we’ve laughed along with Greg the Wimpy Kid and Captain Underpants and enjoyed every tale in the Black Lagoon series. I even got him to sit through my reading of “The Twits” by Roald Dahl.

Now, with fifth grade fast approaching, my boy is still a reluctant reader. He has to be convinced, cajoled and sometimes bribed.

Reading assignments are TORTURE (for both of us!) but he has come a long way from the boy who thought book shelves were for climbing on and books themselves only good as shelters for his plastic army men.

He’s still my reluctant reader, but I’m hopeful that there’s a tiny little love-of-reading sparkle inside him, that I can coax from it’s hiding place and encourage to grow. Every day I offer up my thanks to all those wonderful authors capable of spinning such engaging tales that even my reluctant reader can’t ignore.

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