What? You don't have a collage of reindeer pictures on your phone?*
My son is a struggling reader.
My son reads several grades below "grade level," which is a concept I hate, and yet--he clearly does not read well enough to keep up with the work in his classes.
I am a reading teacher, not to mention a compulsive reader. This ranks right up there with "I'm an introvert; he's an extrovert" on the list of things that make us super frustrated with each other.
I could set up a summer reading program. I could give him assignments and add him onto my classroom access to the phonics and fluency program at my school. I could ask him to talk to me about his reading, to read aloud to me for fluency practice, to do worksheets about his work.
Or, I could NOT spend the summer engaged in power struggles with my son. NOT make him feel humiliated and inadequate at home. NOT align myself with the pain and frustration he associates with school.
That's the path I choose.
And yet, I am a reading teacher. I can't do nothing (double negative intended). So the daily plan this summer is 30 minutes of reading or 60 minutes of listening to an audiobook. No constraints placed on that; just the simple requirement of time.
We are two solid months into summer. He has read Calvin and Hobbes every goddamn day.
Don't get me wrong; Calvin and Hobbes have a lot to offer. For one thing, he relates (so hard) to Calvin. Being able to identify with a character is a great reader trait. For another thing, Waterson was not writing for children, so there's a level of vocabulary, humor, and social commentary that are more grade appropriate than an "easy reader" book would be. Plus Hobbes is possibly the greatest animal character ever written. (Coming up soon, a reader poll about best animal characters ever.)
But still. He is reading the same five comic collections in rotation. Or rather, he's flipping through them, pausing at his favorites, skimming past the really wordy strips. This is not what I had in mind. (Before you ask, YES he has books on his bookshelf, YES we go to the library, YES I slide other books that I just know he would like on top of his stack of comics.) But all he will read is Calvin and Hobbes.
My kids love their stuffed animals, even as they move towards and into their teen years. My husband's sweet and goofy side comes out in how he interacts with the stuffies as well. Last night he was the last one to bed, and when I came downstairs this morning, Spot (the reindeer) was sitting on the couch, very focused on an open graphic novel, Lucy and Andy Neanderthal. Spot was reading it, it turns out, because some of the pages include grass in the pictures (it's his main obsession in life). We all commented on his choice and his dedication (he was nearly all the way done with the book!), and my daughter helped him clear up some confusion about which order to read the boxes on the pages in. Typical silly family stuff.
|He came with us to the bookstore once, and loved the gardening section.|
This evening, when it was time for my son to read, guess what he reached for?
It's one thing when your mom the middle school reading teacher recommends a book. What would she know? But when your REINDEER likes a book, it must be worth investigating.
I leave you with this video, which caused my husband to ask me for a personal reindeer for his upcoming birthday. But I think we already have the world's best deer.
*To be honest, I didn't either--my daughter went out to take some pictures for me to illustrate this post with. Naturally, when I asked her, "Would you take some pictures of Spot for me?" she posed him in the grassy yard.
Though I DID already have that bookshop pose on my camera roll.