Friday, May 8, 2015

The Books That Made A Reader

This week Aiden had to sit through various tests at school, some on math and some on reading. I knew he would have no problem on the math test but I was a little worried about the reading one. Up until this point, Aiden has been a reluctant reader. The joy and sheer love of reading that came naturally to me as a kid has not come as naturally to him. We have always read to him, and we've always encouraged him to read to himself but up until now it's been a challenge for him to tackle new books. That inherent challenge is what prevented him from seeing reading as a pleasure as opposed to seeing it as an assignment that required work.

He came home from school and I tentatively asked how it all went. He smiled and assured me it was fine, he felt like he knew it all and wasn't at all nervous. That was good to hear. His teacher sent home the sheet saying he had finished the required lists of words each first grader is expected to know. That was even better to hear. The best, however, was when we got to the library yesterday and instead of zooming towards the picture books and handing me a stack to read, he said "I'm going to go find some books to read by myself". It was like fireworks going off. Houston, we have a reader!

I don't know exactly what tipped him over the edge from reluctantly cracking open the nightly assigned reading to actually looking forward to finding his own special books to read,  but I do know we've put in a lot of work this year. He spent each evening trying his hardest and we did our best to find interesting books that were at his level. We finally found a few different choices of books that seemed to keep him engaged. These are the ones I'm buying extra copies of to give to Rory:

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

The first books he was really able to read himself were Dr. Seuss. These are a classic for a reason and something about ridiculous tongue twisters just clicks with kids. I won't lie, I think that letting him seeing Sean and I trip over some of the rhymes ourselves showed him that it's okay to make mistakes.

Frog and Toad 

 I actually hated these books as a kid, but Aiden really enjoys him. The dynamic between the two characters is really sweet and I find I like them much more now as an adult. The story where Toad loses his list is pretty much me in a nutshell. And who can't relate to this one:

Pete the Cat

I had no idea who Pete the Cat was until Aiden's teacher dressed up as Pete for Halloween. We found an easy reader series about him for Aiden's birthday. Turns out that Pete is a cool cat. He 's very laid back and manages his way out of all sorts of jams like having everyone tell you what to wear or everyone asking you to draw them pictures (basically, seven year old problems). Aiden loved his oddball friends and relatives and found them extremely funny.  


Aiden loves nonfiction. He would much rather  have us read him a description of how combustion engines work than a story about a magical creature. I don't think he's the only kid out there who has five jillion questions about the world and enjoys science. So why is it so hard to find easy to read books about nonfiction topics? We ended up stumbling across a whole series at the library (go libraries!). It's the Scholastic "Rookie" books, and there's a set on geography and animals that we've found so far. These seem to have made the most difference, since it's obviously going to be easier to get a kid to read when the subject matter is something they're actually interested in.

Knowing that Aiden has turned that corner and become a full fledged reader is so exciting. I can't wait to spend the summer finding more books to share with him. These are the books that we will look back  on and say "Remember when you learned to read? Can you believe there was a time when you couldn't do that?" For me, that book was Little Bear, and for him it's Pete, Frog and Toad and a whole world of science. 
Uh, nice try Buddy.

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