It was 2006, and I was a failure.
Everyone knows that all homeschooled children love books, right? Not my kid! He was in 4th grade, he had both eyes intact and functioning, and still he didn’t love books. Clearly, I was a failure.
Ok, clearly I’m being silly! But this is not a huge exaggeration of how it felt when my youngest just didn’t like books. I am pretty sure now that I am NOT the only homeschool mom out there to experience this, so allow me to share with you a few of the things that helped us through this crisis.
Bored With Reading?
That’s a given. Whenever you are frustrated about anything, the Lord is your first stop on the road to a solution.
I looked at my other kids; each of them had strengths and weaknesses, interests and areas of non-interest. I didn’t think Bekah was in danger because she didn’t play guitar like Jake loved to do, so why was this so upsetting to me? Even when I looked at myself, I could see that although I didn’t like sports, I wasn’t crippled in life; I’d learned to take care of my body with exercise in ways that I could handle even if playing volleyball terrified me (Don’t mock: I broke a nail once and, well…I don’t like to talk about it.).
I couldn’t figure out a different way to present books so that he would love them, but I could figure out different ways to present the important material IN books so that he could learn from them anyway. We used audio books, read-aloud, and added the movie versions of stories as appropriate for enrichment. I found that often he could stick with the book if he had seen the movie first; having a grasp on all of the characters and the basic plot helped him stay focused on the book. We used encyclopedia-style books; the shorter article format was much less intimidating. We used book clubs so he had incentive to reach a goal in finishing the book with enough understanding to join in the club activities about it. We used his love of drawing to help maintain his focus while reading; he drew the characters, he made maps of their world, he charted their progress through the story on life-path diagrams. Using his hands to create something related to the story helped.
4. GOOD BOOKS.
I decided that less was more, and the quantity of books was not terribly important as long as he was reading well-written material and grabbing hold of it for himself. Here’s the closing paragraph from the book report he wrote on Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH when he was in 5th grade:
“I loved the book; I love it a lot! I would recommend that people who like adventurous and real-life stories with a fantasy twist would like this story. I would like to write a book like this someday. Wrapping it all together, this book was very good.”
5. NOT-SO-GOOD BOOKS.
Huh? Certain books grabbed this kid in ways that I didn’t understand. I can’t explain WHY he fell in love with the Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey, but he did. He read those books over and over again while I cringed in the most Charlotte-Mason-corner-of-my-heart. Looking back I have no regrets; he practiced the discipline of sitting with a book for more than 30 seconds of his own free will. He made happy memories with a book in his hands. He learned creative vocabulary use (granted, some of the vocabulary were not real words, but that gave him phonics practice, right?). Most importantly, he learned that BOOKS DO NOT EQUAL PUNISHMENT when he chose to read less-than-classic literature and I didn’t cry audibly.
Your turn: Got ideas for reluctant readers?
From our EBookstore, download a study guide for Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien.
Find out why Jonah loved this book, and I loved it enough to write a multi-level study guide to go with it! The concept of PERSPECTIVE is beautifully illustrated in this Newberry Medal winning book. Download your guide here.