Whenever I look at the recommended reading list from school for a child in Year Four, if I’m honest, I just want to cry. I feel defeated as a parent, and as a book lover. I just haven’t been able to visualise my nearly nine-year old son ever getting to the point where he’ll be reading any of the books on that list. Books that I loved reading as a child, but I was a bookworm from pretty much birth, and the books that kids are expected to read at eight and nine now, are books I’d have been reading when I was ten or eleven. How can you motivate a child who isn’t a bookworm with a list of books that must look to him like an impossible mountain to climb? Well today I’m sharing an update on my reluctant reader, who turns nine in two weeks time.
We’ve had a couple of big steps forward here on our reading journey over the last few days, steps that give me hope. Steps that seems to be showing my son that he can actually enjoy reading.
On Wednesday evening we were experiencing the normal delaying tactics at bedtime. These tactics are always more protracted when his Dad is around. Wednesday is never a good evening for getting my son to sleep on time. We’d had the normal issues getting him to bed but things finally quietened down, I was watching TV and his Dad was working on the laptop, when I heard my son talking upstairs. Not to us, not asking one of us to go upstairs. I listened from the bottom of the stairs, he was actually reading, out loud, from a book. Not just a couple of sentences, but paragraphs, pages. I turned the TV off and we sat in silence downstairs, listening to our son reading his book upstairs. Wow, what an update on my reluctant reader! The book he was reading? The dinosaur that pooped Christmas. He’s a boy, what can I say. He read the whole book, to himself, out loud. I’m sure we were meant to hear him, and I’m so glad he shared that moment on his terms. Magical.
But so often with my son and his reading journey we often take one step forward and then three steps back. But it seems we might finally have turned a page. He might finally have decided he likes independent reading. Where he chooses the book, where he reads willingly, without fuss or complaint, where he reads to me or himself and enjoys it!
The next evening at bedtime, instead of me reading to him, as is the norm, he told me he wanted to read to me. Of course you can, I replied. What would you like to read? No dinosaur pooping for me, but a factual book about the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, a book I’d bought him two years ago, a book which he’s only looked at the pictures of before. So it began, my son reading to me.
Now it may be true that there are only a few lines of text per page, but it’s all in a small font, which has always put him off immediately before. There are lots of difficult words, words he doesn’t come across at school, but he didn’t give up, he let me help him when he struggled, there were some rather interesting guesses at times, but he kept going. Twenty nine pages later, we both agreed that it was time for sleep. He reads very slowly, but that’s a confidence thing, speed will come, it’s the reading itself and the wanting to read, the happiness in his face when he’d finished. It was so lovely to see it, and I went to bed later that evening hoping that the last two evenings weren’t the end of the journey, that they were just the beginning.
Friday morning and our normal routine is for him to read his school reading book to me as we’re eating our breakfast. It’s always been the only time I can actually get him to read anything to me. It’s not always willingly, and with some of the books he’s been sent home with, I can totally see why. So we sat down as normal, and then my son disappeared upstairs and returned with his railway book. I want to read this to you Mummy. Ok, he’d bookmarked the page with his Peter’s Railway bookmark and off he went. Another twenty pages read over breakfast.
As with everything, my son is reading on his own terms and in his own time. He may not be at the stage to read any of the ‘recommended’ titles set out by our education system, but he’s reading, and enjoying it. That’s all I’ve ever wanted for him. I’m hoping that this is the start of something wonderful for him. I’m hoping that one day I’ll go up to check on him and find him with his head in a book way past lights out. One day, maybe. But for now I’m just rejoicing in an update on my reluctant reader two weeks before his ninth birthday. This is certainly a lovely way to draw a close on being eight!