The following is a true story and may affect how you approach your child’s reading, as well as your own:
I had an interesting experience with my son, Kendall, when he was 12 years old. Yes, 12. When each boy and girl takes their brain out of their head and puts it on a shelf for 18 months to 2 years.
My wife sent ME to parent teacher conference because she didn’t want to deal with the report Kendall’s teachers were going to give us.
So, I talked to the first six teachers and they appeared to be speaking from a pre-written script. It went like this:
Me: ”Hi, … Kendall Purser.”
Teacher: ”Kendall (sigh) what are we going to do with Kendall.”
Teacher: ”I don’t even know how to explain it. Well, let me just show you his grades.”
99 out of 100
103 out of 100
96 out of 100
104 out of 100
90 out of 95
”You see, he is understanding the class just fine, I just can’t get him to turn in his homework. He’s not even turning it in late. He’s not turning it in at all.”
Me: ”Well, I can work with him on that. Let’s see if we can get more follow through from him.”
Teacher: ”I think he is actually doing the work, but he is only turning in 1 out of 5 assignments.”
Me: ”Yeah, that’s definitely a problem.”
Teacher: ”I can’t imagine doing all that work and not turning it in.”
Me: (after talking with 5 other teachers) ”Alright, let me see what I can do.”
Teacher: ”Thanks, it’s nice to meet you.”
Me: ”uh, yeah, you … too.”
THEN I went to the reading teacher. This is how it went:
Me: (with dread and apprehension) ”… Kendall Purser.”
Teacher: (comes awake, sits upright, big smile on her face) ”KENDALL, KENDALL, PURSER ?!?”
Me: ”uh, yeah,”
Teacher: ”You’re Kendall’s Father?”
Me: ”Yes.” (Where’s she going with this..)
Teacher: ”I just LOVE Kendall. He’s my favorite student in the entire 7th grade.”
(I thought, wait, you’re not reading from the script that all the other 6 teachers were reading from..?)
Teacher: ”How do you get him to read what he does?”
Me: “Well, he reads what I read.”
Teacher: “That’s amazing!!”
Me: ”It is?”
Teacher: ”Yes, He has the most breadth in his reading of any student, his age, that I have ever met.”
Me: ”I don’t understand?”
Teacher: ”Let me explain.. Every 9 weeks my students turn in a book report. Do you know how many Goose Bumps book reports one teacher can choke down?”
Me: ”Uh... ”
Teacher: ”This year is unique. I get 84 Goose Bumps book reports, and then I get Kendall’s.”
Me: ”Just the one?”
Teacher: ”Yeah, and I never know what he’s going to give me.
One time it’s a Louis L’Amour western
The next time it’s Jack Higgins with a World War II historical fiction novel.
Maybe next it will be a Middle Earth fantasy by J.R.R Tolkien
And then it will be Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, a science fiction book.
Kids his age don’t read like that. It’s a stark contrast to 84 Goose Bumps books, all year long.”
Me: ”Well, okay, that I can explain. I read a book and give it to him and say, ‘Here’s a good book.’ Occasionally, because he’s only 12, he’ll give me a good book he found. We just read each other’s books.”
Teacher: ”That’s amazing!”
Teacher: ”See, I actually pace myself with Kendall’s book report…. I think, Maybe if I read 64 of the Goose Bumps book reports, THEN I read Kendall’s, it will lift my spirits enough to plow through the rest.”
Me: ”Wow, I had no idea.”
Teacher: ”Yes, I don’t think I could have survived this year without Kendall.”
Me: ”Well, I’m glad to hear it.”
Teacher: ”Not only that, he has a great sense of humor.”
Me: ”Heh, heh, well, we share that too.”
Teacher: ”His sense of humor is at least 2 grades above his age. He’ll tell a joke, and I crack up, but all the other students just stare. It went right over their heads.”
Me: ”Well, good.” (there’s an implied assumption that I, a grown man, have a 9th grade sense of humor, in case you missed that)
Teacher: ”Well, Mr. Purser, it was nice to meet you. Thank you again, and keep doing what you are doing with Kendall and his reading. It has made a difference in MY life, at least.”
Me: ”It was nice to meet you, thanks for your kind words and not repeating what the other teachers just told me.”
So anyway, that was a long story to say what?
You, as parents, can make a difference in your child’s reading experience and skills by:
· Encouraging them to read,
· Taking an interest in what books they are actually reading,
· Sharing a good book with your child,
· Reading with them,
· And talking about the books you read.
You can help them find out that there is a lot more to read than, say, the Magic Tree House Books, American Girl stories, or (shudder) Goose Bumps.