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Summer Reading (and Hoping) with a Nine-Year-Old

July 11, 2011

School ended a few weeks ago and, much to my oldest’s chagrin, he did not receive one of the hundreds of awards given away at his school this year. In fact, he’s never won one. I asked him if there was one in particular that he had his heart set on and there didn’t seem to be, so I’m not sure what he was looking for exactly. We discussed goals, creating them and working towards them, but I imagine most of that went in one ear and out the other. Despite my best intentions, I seem to be raising a child that expects something for nothing. But we did create a summer goal together, one that I thought he should be able to achieve rather easily: his school has challenged all students to read 20 books this summer, so he set a personal goal of 27. Don’t ask me where he got that number, but if he achieves it I will go out and buy him a trophy. Who knows, maybe I’ll even spring for the engraving.

In two weeks, however, only 4 books have made it to the list and they are not the kind of reading I was hoping for. Two are Pokémon graphic novels, one is a Little Golden Book called Our Flag  and one is a  picture book. I know there was just a big kerfuffle over the NYT article proclaiming the death of the picture book and the subsequent argument that older children can enjoy them (which I agree with), but an almost 4th grader can’t count a picture book as actual reading. Unless maybe it’s by Kathleen Krull. My hope for Levi was to read great new and classic literature like The Phantom Tollbooth, Johnny Tremain, How to Eat Fried Worms, maybe some Louis Sachar, Kate DiCamillo, Judy Blume (no, not the please-God-can-I-have-boobs-and-get-my-period books, more along the lines of Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing). My vision of this was Levi and I sitting happily together while I started reading the book aloud to him. Eventually he’d get so swept up in the story that he would have to grab it out of my hands and read on his own so could find out what happened faster! I actually had a precedent for this dream – he plowed through the entire Series of Unfortunate Events last summer. But the reality this year is much more grim. I’m the one who wants to read faster to find out what happens,  so reading aloud is just no fun. I have to force him to read a chapter before he can have screen time (I guess I’ll have to re-phrase that if I ever get him an e-reader, which he’s been asking for).  The dangling trophy is just not enough of a motivator. I have actually seen him sit on the couch staring out the window –  when I suggest reading he gets upset.

In happier news, though, he is thoroughly hooked on Harry Potter. He has finished the first book (I guess we need to add that to the list as #5) and read a few chapters of the second. I’m letting him see the movies before he finishes all of the books so that we can see Deathly Hallows Part 2 in the theater together. I feel like this will be an event that he’ll remember, like people who remember all 82 times they saw Star Wars in the theater. I’ve  been trying to get him into Harry Potter for a while but he’s always found it too scary until now. I guess we’re never going to be in a book club together, but we certainly know enough spells for a good wand duel.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. July 11, 2011 8:09 am

    Levi is adorable and I bet he can get those 27 books read! We used to have quiet time – a half hour to 45 minutes when the whole family sat down together to read. It could be anything – book, magazine, newspaper – but you had to be quiet and read. At first, our son stopped as soon as time was up, but after a while, he continued to read to find out what would happen next.

  2. Cheryl McKeon permalink
    July 11, 2011 10:17 am

    Deanna, it’ll be a few years but I am sure he’ll be Homecoming King. How does he feel about graphic novels? Audio books? The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree; some day he’ll catch your bug. (BTW – humbug to those exclusionary grade school awards!)

    • July 12, 2011 6:52 am

      Audio books are my daughter’s candy. They sit at their desks doing whatever their little hearts desire and go through book after book. I do read to them aloud (we’re reading Penderwicks #2) and the 11 year old love reading to herself currently Scumble by Ingrid Law, 7 year old is just emerging!

      There is something about audio books. Yesterday it was Geronimo Stilton (theses have quite an amazing actor doing the reading, complete with voices) both 7 and 11 love these and they picked up the FULL Chronicles of Narnia last week –they’re on The Horse and his Boy.

      Our house is a house of readers, but each of us found our way in our own time (my husband not until his late 20’s, now he is voracious).

      (We created a project to encourage reading and support libraries –a virtual book club for all ages. Shameless plug, but also an invitation for you, your son, your readers to join our Summer Program called “Reading Books and Writing Stories” we’ve enlisted librarians from all over the world to help find books to fall in love with and we’re offering tools to find your own story too!)

      Enjoy those 27 wonderful books Levi!!

      http://www.booksforwallsproject.org/2011/07/announcing-reading-books-writing.html

  3. Deanna permalink
    July 11, 2011 11:10 am

    Yes, I guess what I didn’t say is that Levi is my beautiful, sweet baby boy (no matter what age)and I love him dearly when he reads 2 books or 27! And Cheryl, he has started listening to the Harry Potter audios (it’s full-on HP madness in this house). That’s what I was referring to on FB about cassettes. I realized I only had the first few on tape!

  4. July 12, 2011 9:15 pm

    I think 27 books is a very aggressive goal for a kid who’s just finished 3rd grade! Wow. It is summer, after all, the only time all year when just sitting and staring out the window is a perfectly acceptable activity. Kids need some down time.

    I am also very impressed that he’s reading Harry Potter already! And he’s right – it IS scary for younger kids. And the books get scarier and more mature as the series continues. He must be a good reader.

    My youngest son (now 13) just doesn’t enjoy reading, even though the other 3 of us in the house read constantly. He’d prefer to do something active. I find that our library’s summer reading program provides a good incentive to get him reading (a little bit!) during the summer – they earn little weekly prizes, coupons for donuts and pizza, and a free book when they pass certain milestones.

    Enjoy your summer vacation together!

    Sue

  5. Erin permalink
    July 12, 2011 9:46 pm

    I just love that picture, Deanna! My summer reading goal is 12 (non-work) books- see if Levi wants to start by beating me 🙂

  6. July 15, 2011 6:51 pm

    Good luck with this goal. HOw about spending some quality time with him enjoying Diary of a WImpy Kid? It is funny and you can enjoy it together. Maybe you read one page and then he reads the next- that way it is broken up. As for the e-reader- maybe that would be the prize at the end of the 20-book goal.

  7. Deanna permalink
    July 15, 2011 7:35 pm

    Levi read the Wimpy Kid books a few years ago and while he keeps up with the new ones, he doesn’t seem as interested in them these days. But they are hilarious! I think I was looking forward to the most recent movie more than he was. 🙂
    @Sue, I like to call Levi “the most unscheduled child in the country.” He refuses to participate in after school activities or go to camp in the summer, so there’s a lot of down time. I totally agree that kids need time to just be, I know I do!

  8. July 18, 2011 1:51 pm

    Did he try out the Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson) series or the Accidental Hero? -I know other boys my age (same as your son) who liked those books but don’t really like to read.

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