Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Reader is Born -- I mean Made

I brought this book home from the library, thinking my son might be interested in it as a read-aloud for bedtimes. After much cajoling, he let me read the first chapter, just to see if it would be any good.

Boring, Mom. No dice.

However, after lights-out, my husband caught him in his closet, reading it by flashlight. Normally, we'd just consider this a highly advanced attempt at staying up later, but he went on and on about how good it was, how funny, how he just wanted to read it a little bit longer, just another minute, just ONE MORE .... come ON!

not my kid, but cute, eh?

Next morning he got up early and finished it.

For months I've been waiting for a "breakthrough" for him -- that shift between the labor of decoding text and the joy of reading a story. It has been a slow process. Decoding is so much more work for him than it was for his older sister. He skips words, he skips whole lines, he's so focused on spelling out each word, he sometimes loses the thread of the story. He has consistently been at least 5 months behind where his sister was at the same age.

Now, I want to tell you that it would have been easier for Bookivore to just say, "Well, I guess he's not going to be much of a reader" and let it slide. Que sera, sera. Sing it, Doris.

But Bookivore knows that readers are MADE, not BORN. And reading takes work. And patience. And repetition. And repetition some more. And eventually, you will see improvement. But it may take a while. It may take much longer than you're comfortable with. I know I passed comfortable about 4 months ago.

Finally, we're seeing results. But know this: he still skips words, still skips lines, still misses really crucial parts of the story -- after reading The Dragon in the Sock Drawer, he couldn't tell me the dragon's name or how they finally got the egg open. So obviously we have more work to do. But the motivation is there, and it wasn't there before, so that's a step in the right direction.

Here are some other steps I'm going to take:
  • I'm having his eyes checked at his physical this summer. I think they're OK, but it's best to be sure.
  • I'm having him summarize (verbally) everything he reads so I can get a sense of what he's understanding from the story.
  • I'm still making him read aloud to me, for the same reason.
  • I'm encouraging him to use his finger to follow the text as he reads so he doesn't skip things.
  • I'm talking through the Good Reader's Habits as we read.

And I'm keeping at it.

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