Cleary’s Henry Huggins and Ramona Quimby, Blackmore’s Lorna, Christie’s Miss Marple and Poirot, Montgomery’s Anne, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, Old Mother West Wind, Omri, Patrick, Boone and Little Bear – childhood books and their characters stick with me in a way no other book can. It has been hard to watch my son struggle with reading and have the literary heroes I loved supplanted with Super Mario.
Robert recently started reading a new series called, The Diary of a Wimpy Kid. There are 4 books and a Do-It-Yourself Diary. Robert has loved them. He also informed me that they were test-able for RC points at the elementary school. I suggested that Daniel should read them.
At first, Daniel resisted, “No! Nu-uh!” were his exact words. But he has no electronics of any kind right now and so had no choice but to read something. Eventually, he was persuaded that Diary (at 7 or 8 points a pop) might be a worthwhile try. Within the first chapter he was hooked.
The story of Gary, a less-than-bold, middle-school-aged boy whose idea of an ideal summer is spending his days holed up in his room playing video games. His mother’s idea of summer is family togetherness activities. In an attempt to encourage Gary to write she suggests a journal. Gary agrees but is dismayed to realize that the book his mother brings home says, “Diary” on the cover. He uses this book to document school, games, brothers, friends, family life and other typical childhood experiences from his perspective. It may have been that Daniel related to the character and I know he liked the first person narrative style and subject matter. I was just thrilled to find him, for the first time, excited to read.
I believe the print style may have had something to do with Daniel’s enthusiasm as well. I had noticed that when Daniel was trying to read closely printed lines of words he struggled more than usual. Since these books are supposed to be hand-written in a journal, they are printed on lines. I think that the lines help stop the letters from moving on the page and allow Daniel the ability to read more easily.
In the last week and a half, Daniel has completed two 200+ page books and is half way through a third. He has tested on one and is scheduled to test on another today. Last week, he also managed to test on two small 1 point books. If he scores well today, he will be at 29 points. At the rate he is completing these books he has a real chance of having between 37 and 44 points by the end of the week. While I am so excited to have him catching up on RC, I am even more thrilled to see him bringing a book along in the car to read.
The week has not been 100% smooth. There have been several times when Daniel would still rather go out to play than read. Sometimes he can, but he is also faced with the fact that he is paying back all the time he spent playing Wii and watching TV instead of reading during the Great College Student Experiment.
These books may not be great works of literature. They may not be the books I loved as a child and wish I could pass on to my son. They are not necessarily the book I would have chosen for him but they are motivating him to read. I am thankful for that and realize that they will be a part of his childhood.