Friday, May 27, 2011
Talking About Books With Children
Bubba (my graduated student...age 19): “When did you know you were a reader?” I asked.
Now that says it all.
Tex's responses were pretty much what I expected. He is like me, in that when I was his age, I was stuck in a genre rut and my dad implemented a summer program to move me out of that rut and to expand my horizons (I wrote about this elsewhere). I have been aware of this, and have been gradually introducing different types of books this year, beyond his usually dragon and magic stories.
I will have to work more deliberately next year to move him towards richer books with a more classic feel. One of my plans for this is to have him listen to some of the desired novels on an audio books site (myaudioschool.com) as he works on other projects. Then I will provide some others for him to actually read, and we will discuss them, since he seems to really enjoy that. You can download copies of the Reading Challenge and the Audio Challenge I presented him with for the summer at my homeschool-for-free site.
I will also arrange for him to go to the library with one of the men I mentioned who can steer him towards some good historical fiction or more reader-friendly biographies. My oldest son, Bubba, would be good at this since I have no doubt he would steer clear of John Adams and head towards something like Killer Angels, which is more likely to capture his brother's interest.
I am glad to see Tex is confident in his abilities as a good reader, but I don't want him to think that reading a lot, reading quickly, and comprehension are the only factors that determine whether he is a good reader. Sure, those skills are good ones to have, especially if you like to go through as many books as Tex does in a month, but at the age of thirteen, he needs to dig a bit deeper and focus on finding the meaning behind the books, and to be able to deduce the message of the author, especially in relation to the context of the book, and to be able to apply it to his own life. I know for a fact that he has seen the connections during his history studies, and by widening his scope of reading this next year to include a greater variety of genres, I think it will not be difficult for him to apply those connections to the books he is reading.
I also see from my conversation with him that we do need to have a talk about the permissibility of abandoning books. I think he's seen me reading through books I didn't like (I often feel I HAVE to read at least the ending of a book I can't seem to get into) and from that he has gotten the idea that dumping a book that is a bad fit isn't okay. Just because I feel a need to read the ending so I can defend my choice of abandonment, does not mean he needs to do so. I'd rather he spent his time on worthwhile and enjoyable books. We will definitely have that discussion soon.
Lee Ann Hildreth's final statement on our class video summarizes what I got out of this lesson and I'd like to share it here:
“I want [the students] to learn about themselves, so while I talk to them about reading and their interests, then they start to think about themselves as readers, and then they can use that information to help them pick books that are going to challenge them to become better readers. And [they will] also pick books that they'll want to read the sequel, and read on, and read the next book in the series...and continue to be lifelong readers.”
I feel that way, too. There is nothing more I'd like than to see my children/students reveling in books and passing on a love of reading to those around them, especially their own families. Books are a gift. Reading is a blessing. We just love books!