By Guest Blogger Laura Simon
Let me preface this by saying I want my children to love reading. I love it myself.
Given the choice between jewelry and books, I’ll chose books every time. I don’t get rid of books…I buy more bookcases. I assumed my children were going to adore reading straight from the womb. They were going to learn quickly and eagerly. The were going to read classics, and only classics. They would spend hours curled up on the couch on a Sunday afternoon, reading Farmer Boy and Narnia.
Obviously I knew very little about boys. And Sunday afternoon football.
All three of my kids adore having someone read to them, and my oldest – now 8 – started reading basic books at a very young age. But the chapter books just didn’t grab him like I’d hoped. Now in third grade, he has finally found a series that excites him. He can’t wait to read another chapter. He wants me to be a supportive listener at all times. I should be thrilled, but I’m not. Because all he wants to read is a series of novels based on the video game Minecraft.
The game is bad enough. It can actually put me to sleep faster than televised golf, and that’s saying something. Of course, my boys adore it because they are elementary-aged boys and the folks who designed Minecraft know their audience. Even before I broke down and let them get the game, my boys had checked out every Minecraft how-to book in the library. They begged their father to let them watch hours of Brickshow Brian playing Minecraft on TV. (Obviously they went to their father for this because it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what my answer was going to be).
They wasted spent hours talking about creepers and biomes and zombies, and I tried to pretend I cared while carefully deflecting the conversation to something productive, like Legos, which are real-life blocks that can build real-life houses. But I digress.
So now we have the chapter books. Every day, Eli and I sit down together on the couch and he starts to read. Every few minutes he gets excited about something and does everything a good reader should do. He poses questions and answers them. He makes predictions. He engages with the text. And then he looks at me.
“Mom, can you believe they found the creepers in the nether portal?” He is actually breathless about this.
“No. I seriously can’t. What is the nether portal again? Is it related to Neverland? No? And creepers are those green stuffed things you sleep with, right?”
“Mom, are you OK? What’s wrong with your eyes?”
“Oh, they feel really dry. It hurts to keep them open. I’m sure it’s allergies. Do you mind if I give them a rest for a few minutes? I’ll enjoy listening to you read…I can make all sorts of wonderful pictures in my head. It’s really very relaxing…”
Every single day, I’ve woken up thirty minutes later to discover that my reader has finished all three chapters and moved on to something else, like coloring pictures of the Minecraft things he just read about. I have a vague idea that there’s a character named Violet who designed a roller coaster and even though she’s only ten, and even though the bad guys are trying to blow up the coaster, people are still lining up to ride on it. I mean…hobbits seem very plausible by comparison.
Y’all, we have bookshelves and bookshelves of quality literature, and this is what he chooses to love.
My six-year-old just discovered that the books say ages 7-12. He has a birthday coming up, and he assumes he’ll magically be able to read them when he turns seven. So guess what? I GET TO HEAR THEM AGAIN!
Fortunately, I’m very, very sleep-deprived. In fact, I think I’ll just set down my expectations and embrace this valuable, unexpected nap time. I just hope there won’t be a comprehension quiz.
Have your kids embraced books that you absolutely couldn’t stand? When did they start reading things you could enjoy, too?
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