Friday, June 14, 2013

Reluctant Reader

"Graham!  Buddy, I got you new books at the library."

"Are they audiobooks?"

"No, they're books... with pages and words and pictures."

He's not impressed.  He shuffles through the stack and walks away.  I decide not to push.  He'll hate reading even more if I continue to shove it down his throat.

An hour later, he looks at the stack again.  He grabs one book.   I offer to read it out loud while he makes block towers for his little brother to knock over.  Maybe he can have a special treat when we've finished the first chapter.

He rolls his eyes, but begins to stack blocks for his brother to demolish.

"Troublemaker," I read the title.  "Andrew Clements."

I hear the girls both say, "Frindle!" in the other room and decide they must be speaking Whovian or something else based on their sci-fi language of choice.  They slowly inch their way into the living room as I read.  The 16 year old holds up her electronic tablet as if to give the impression she's just joining us for the comfort of her favorite leather chair.  The 13 year old is less subtle and laughs out loud as I read through the first chapter.

"Woo.  That chapter few by.  Should I read another one?"

The girls suddenly find other things to look at, too cool to want their mother to read to them.

"I'll listen" sighs Katie, glancing up from her manicure.

We read on.  Blocks tumble.  Kids laugh.  I secretly pat myself on the back and add a hash mark to the "Good momma moments" column on my mental score sheet.  Lately I've struggled to feel like I deserve any marks on that side of the tally.  We predict what will happen next.  We imagine how characters feel.  We agree it's okay to use the word jackass if you're reading it as part of a story, even if you giggle so much you can't read.  We guess what would happen if the principal of our Catholic elementary school found a donkey picture that looked like her.  We wonder what Clay did with the $10 Mr. Kelling gave him.

Four chapters later and we have to move on with our day.  The book floats from one set of hands to another.  At bedtime, Graham snuggles next to me and asks if he can read to me.  Let me say that again - my 9 year old, who struggles with reading, who frequently refuses to read at all asks to read to me.  Thirty minutes later, I tell him he's done a wonderful job, but he needs to sleep.  We'll have to see what happens to Clay and Mitch in the morning.  We talk about them like they're real people.

We wake up to a gray day.  I find him curled up in bed, working his way through another chapter.  By lunchtime, he's read two chapters by himself and I have to beg him to let me have the book long enough to catch up.

The baby is napping now.  The house is quiet.  Graham has built a fort in the basement with pillows and blankets stolen borrowed from his sisters' room.  He found batteries for his Cub Scout flashlight and he's continuing to read.

Andrew Clements may have just changed our entire summer.  He may have just created a reader.  He has definitely found new fans and another grateful parent.

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