Friday, July 4, 2014

Books versus movies

Tonight my small son said something that made my heart sing.....

Wait let's go back. 

A long time ago, when I was first toying with the idea of homeschooling, I envisioned children settling in with their noses in books. I thought surely homeschooling will give me the opportunity to turn my children into lovers of the written word. After all, I love to read and their father loves it even more.  

I had heard that reading to your children from an early age helps to foster the love of reading.  We started collecting books and reading to that girl before she was even born. But as we started to teach our oldest how to read, it became apparent that this was not as easy as we thought. Much to my dismay, she struggled and struggled to learn to read. Although she was reading small words at an early age, it took her years to learn to read well.  By this time reading had become a chore to her.  

When it came time to teach the second child how to read, I changed my strategy and though he learned to read much quicker he still did not love to read. For these two children reading is not something that was fun for them, they only read when they are asked to.  Sometimes I can get "J" to read by finding something that interests her but it is not often that I succeed.  As time went on, I had to assign books and force them to read things just to keep their skills up. I came up with reward systems and incentives. These worked a bit,"T"was allowed to stay up after bedtime and read. This is when he started to really improve. 

Then it was the third child's turn to learn to read. After my first two experiences, I dreaded the thought of teaching him.  "I" was eager to learn to read like his siblings. I marvelled at how good his memory was and how quickly he understood concepts.  Reading clicked with him quickly and a month into first grade he was already reading well above his age level.  I would find him reading by himself nobody around. But still his brother and sisters influenced him. They thought reading was boring and so he must think that too.  He would much rather watch a tv show or play a video game than read.  Still, I would find him curled up on the couch reading his little sister a story or just reading to himself. Where ever he saw words, he would be reading them. Signs, cereal boxes, whatever. It got to the point where we had to be careful what we were reading around him because he was a quick reader and would read over your shoulder.   Phew. Finally a child who didn't think reading was the worse torture imaginable. 

So a couple months back, I decided that I would read "The Chronicles of Narnia" series to him. I had tried before to read to them but they didn't have the attention span. I wondered if we would be able get through them even now because he is a very active boy and gets distracted easily.   Low and behold, when we started the first book, (The Magicians Nephew) the story captivated him. We finished that book and moved on to the second book (The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe). Now I have a rule and I declared that rule years ago in hopes it would get my older two reading that if there is a movie about a book, they were not allowed to watch that movie without reading the book.  So when we started reading The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, I told him at there was a movie about it. He was so excited because he just loves movies.   This book captured his imagination even more and we ended up reading the book in two days. (He would read until he got tired and then I would read for a while). So finally tonight was the night he has been waiting for.  TV night. (Another one of my rules, we only have so many nights where the tv goes on, I am a meanie I know). 

So after supper we settled down to watch the movie. We were three quarters through the movie when he said it.......

"You know Mom, I like books better than movies."  When I asked him why he thought that, he said "Books tell you what the people are thinking and movies don't." 

There you go. My heart sang.   I finally have a lover of the written word. Now that's not to say that he isn't going to grumble about having to read something or that he is better than my other two. I will still continue to encourage all my children to find things to read that interest them and I am open to suggestions. I gave "J" a list of books I would like her to read over the summer, she has already read one of them and has found a series at the library that she likes. My sister has also introduced Archie Comics to her and she is reading those.  We will be going to the library three times a week for reading clubs this summer and I have taught both "J" and "T" how to look up books in the library's online catalogue. Both of them have their own library card.  Reading will always be something that I encourage but I am glad that at least one of my children does not need to be prodded or nagged into reading. 


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