From as far back as I can remember I’ve loved books. Trips to Aldershot Library to pick up and exchange books was always a highlight of my week as a child. I’m still a bookworm now and there’s a rather large pile of books to read by the side of my bed as a permanent feature. So it’s always been a mystery to me that my son hasn’t been the same. As I’ve mentioned before he has always loved being read to, but getting him to read independently, willingly, for fun, has been a long and painful process. There’s a tricky balancing act to be performed with children who don’t like to read for themselves. You want to offer constant encouragement whilst being ever mindful to not switch them off reading completely. So I find myself with a nine-year old son and the reluctant reader journey continues as he goes through Year Four at school.
I see the list of ‘recommended’ reads for his age group and quite frankly it makes me want to cry at times. I see books on that list that I loved reading as a child, other’s that have clearly been written after the 1970’s. I see a list of books that seem so far beyond our grasp and it makes me worry as I just can’t see my son reaching out for these books any time soon. Each morning he reads his school reading book to me over breakfast. Yes he’s reading chapter books, but nowhere near the ‘expected’ level for his age. Whilst I try to mentally cross out all the tick boxes that the education system throws at us, the niggles are always there in the background. For my son, his need to read has started and finished pretty much with the pages he has to read from the books that come home from school.
Yes he has got better at reading at home and when we’re out and about. But he’s not a bookworm, even books on subjects he’s interested in only hold his attention for a very short time. My son is a builder, a constructor, he’s not a reader. But maybe that’s starting to change. He certainly took me totally by surprise at the weekend.
It was a lovely sunny day on Saturday, my son was digging in his mud pit and I was sat in the sun reading a book and enjoying a cup of tea. When it was lunchtime, I left my book on the table and headed inside to put some sandwiches together. As I was getting things ready I could hear my son talking. I thought he must have been talking to the cat, but poked my head into the living room to see what was going on. There he was sat at the garden table, reading my book. Yes, reading my book!!!
I was, firstly amazed, and then secondly slightly concerned that a book featuring Mexican drug lords and gangs wasn’t the most suitable reading material for a nine-year old. But he was reading. Wow.
When I returned to the table with his lunch, he announced that he was just popping inside to get a book of his own to read. My son, getting a book to read, I was lost for words whilst screaming with delight in my head. He returned with one of his Roald Dahl books from his bookcase.
He has so many wonderful books but it’s pretty much always me who reads them to him. This was new. This was amazing. The reluctant reader journey continues and I’m keeping everything crossed that a change is happening right now.
Once he’d finished his book, yes finished it, by himself, only asking what the occasional word was, he was off back upstairs for another book, and another. Never had this happened before. The kind of reading that I took for granted when I was his age. He was sat down reading and enjoying it. Wonderful, bloody wonderful. The reading even carried on at bedtime.
But my son wasn’t done with surprises. Oh no. On Mother’s Day we were spending the day at Hever Castle which, on a good run is about an hour and half from us. My son normally takes his backpack in the car with lots of paper and colouring pencils to keep him amuses. As we got in the car he piped up, Mummy I’ve packed some books in my bag too. Blimey, two days running! Reading, by choice. Wow.
There he was reading a selection of his Peter’s Railway books, one after the other. He’d stop from time to time to check a word with me, but other than that, he was away, reading.
Yes, things have slowed down a bit with him being back at school during the week but we’ve made significant progress over the weekend. I think he’s TA at school might faint when she sees the number of entries in his reading diary since she last checked it. He’s still very reluctant to pick up one of his many larger chapter books, but hopefully he will one day. I feel that there’s a possibility of that actually happening now, rather than being a pot of gold at the end of a never-ending rainbow. It was certainly the best Mother’s Day present I could wish for, better than any shop bought present. So fingers crossed this all continues, I’m certainly hoping so.