An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

That Darn Suki and her Kimono


When it comes to reading and our sons, we could write our own version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears: one son likes to read a lot, one likes to read sometimes, and one doesn't like to read at all.

What we have are extremes: our eldest son reads anything and everything; as parents we often found ourselves in the unique situation of having to tell him to stop reading. Our youngest, on the other hand, is the complete and total opposite; he not only doesn't like to read, but considers it a form of torture.

To be sure, he can read. Under duress he will read anything you put in front of him, but if he doesn't find the subject matter interesting his mind wanders, his eyes glaze over, and the complaining (and yes, even tears) begins. Reading one chapter a day (just one!) of Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (his summer reading assignment) is the low point of his day, but give him a 45-page instruction manual or an encyclopedia on the solar system and he's good to go.

Reading Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.
That smile is totally fake.
You're probably thinking, well, just give him books he likes to read. The problem is that the stories in his school reading book do not capture his attention. At all. Last year there was one story (one story!) which he liked -- Hottest, Coldest, Highest, Deepest -- and during that week we listened to a never-ending stream of facts about the highest mountains, deepest oceans, and smallest animals.

But the week the class read Suki's Kimono just about did him in.

At first I was worried that my son lacked imagination to fully enter into a story, but if there is one thing he has is plenty of imagination. Running through the yard playing GI Joe with the neighbors, organizing a Bike Wash, using every blanket and pillow in the house to build a fort, figuring out how to do something in a different way ... believe me, his mind is always going, going, going. It's just that he likes to read non-fiction. I get that. He has an engineering mind. He likes mechanical things. He's a builder.

The problem is that his grades are dependent on that darn Suki and her kimono.

So this summer, in an attempt to help him get excited about books, I set the very humble goal of reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone together (to put things in perspective, his older brother read this book in the first grade). He reads a page, I read a page. We talk. We discuss. Then we watch the parts in the movie which correspond to what we just read in the book, and we compare the two.

Has it worked? Yes and no. He's still not doing somersaults about reading time, but we're making progress. Any complaining seems to be strictly pro forma -- two minutes, tops -- and then we have fun with it, we really do.

Today's is Harry Potter's birthday. While I had initially planned to use this day to celebrate having finished the book, in actuality we still have a few more chapters to go. But to heck with it. We're celebrating anyway. We're on chapter 11 and that is progress, people, progress I tell you!

And, in my mind, cause to celebrate ... especially since Harry Potter wears a cloak and not a kimono.

today's agenda

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