The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the man who’ll get me a book I ain’t read. ~Abraham Lincoln
There was a time when getting Kyle to realize the true adventure and the worlds of fun contained in books was like climbing Mount Fuji, it was a struggle. Not to mention getting him to understand the importance of reading and the education that comes through books was an even bigger challenge. I will admit I tried and I tried and I tried.
From the time Kyle was a tiny infant till about the age of five or six, he loved having someone read him stories. My mom and I would read him poems, books, magazine articles, you name it. We would sit on the rocking chair, cuddle and read. He loved it! He would get a book and bring it to one of us to read to him. In fact, that’s how I found out that I can no longer read while riding in a car. I once tried to read Kyle his dinosaur book in the backseat and almost lost my weeks lunches, dinners, breakfasts and snacks. I think you get my drift. I remember when I was putting myself through college and I worked two jobs, one was the midnight shift at UPS. By the time I would get to my parents house, it was around five in the morning and I was dead to the world. The minute Kyle would wake up, he made a bee line to my bed. Sometimes he would crawl in bed with me (with a little sleepy nudge from my hand to get him in bed). He was usually dragging one of his music books with him. He would flip through the book and pretend to read to me. I wish I was more awake, but getting three hours of sleep a night sometimes would catch up with me. Yep, the love for books and reading was instilled in him at a young age.
That is, until he was old enough to read. Then Kyle decided he HATED reading. Yep, he would say it day in and day out. I must say those words really upset me. Well, me being me, I decided to get creative to help develop a love for reading and the ability of getting lost in books. When he had a book he had to bring home from the school library, I would pull it out and get really excited about his book selection, even when it was about bats, spiders, or the time he brought home a book on the most poisonous snakes. Gross! But regardless, I would try. Sometimes I would just sit there reading a few pages until he asked me what I was doing. Then I would just blurt out saying, “Wow, that’s incredible!” or “Holy smokes, I didn’t know it could do that!” Yep, anything to get his attention. Sometimes that would spark his interest enough to sit with me and at least entertain me.
I even went as far as to make a deal with Kyle, when he was reading the Goosebumps stories, which did not contain pictures and were his first chapter books. To Kyle those books were his Mount Fuji. I told him I would take turns with him reading. He would read a page and then I would read a page. At the end of two pages I would act out the scene. I noticed at this time Kyle was not really comprehending what he was reading. He was just saying the words out loud, not really computing what was going on. I thought me acting would help to bring the book to life. We had a blast! Once he was done with a page, he would stop, even in mid sentence and say, “Ok Aunt Heather now it’s your turn to read.” Then I would read my page and sometimes I would forget and turn the page. Kyle would stop me saying, “No Aunt Heather, go ahead and act it out.” As he sat there in anticipation, I jumped around the living room and creeped up from behind the couch. Kyle would really get into the book. He would sit and squeal with every motion as if he was in the story. Sometimes I couldn’t help but laugh at his reactions. That method worked for a while. But Kyle would not sit and read a book by himself.
Every Easter has always been a tradition for my mom to get us books, hence became my tradition with Kyle. I tried the Warrior books and other books. Nothing. Finally I got him the Wimpy Kid books. He begrudgingly would read them to me, and examine the illustrations. He didn’t really get into those books until his daycare made a mandatory reading time for the kids. They had to bring in a book of their choice and read for a half an hour every day. Once they completed a book, they received a coupon for something free at McDonald’s. I’m not a fast food fan, but if this was getting Kyle to read, I was all for it. Not to mention it helped that other kids in his class had already read the books, and I found out, in their own way, were encouraging Kyle by getting him excited for the adventures.
Kyle has never had the most perfect grades when it came to reading and language. Now if we were talking about math, science and even music that was a different ball of wax. I really wanted to help him out. Now I’ve used other ploys such as bribing him, threatening him, and even ignoring him. I even developed SpyRing (www.SpyRing.com) to assist in reading and reading comprehension as well as all school subjects. This helped Kyle in terms of practice for reading and getting into the spy theme. He loved the challenge of the questions and the interaction with another person. Great! But since SpyRing was not a book, YET, I needed to try another method that was successful at least in terms of getting him excited about reading books.
At this point, I decided to go back to the basics. I always wanted to read the Harry Potter books, but I never got around to them. So I purchased the entire seven book set for Kyle’s tenth birthday. When he opened up the gift I was shot a look of, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me’. I told him the deal was that I would read them to him. That was it. Kyle loved the movies so I thought, what the heck, at least I’ll be able to hang with Kyle and finally read the books. Kyle also knew that when I said I would read to him, he knew I would do it with total enthusiasm, expression, complete emotion, excitement and all the pizazz I could muster. Now that appealed to him and so the stories started to unfold and I loved every minute of it.
Never give up! Just as books expand and occupy the mind, explore your mind to gain access to the books. When you’re doing what’s right, you are never wrong. Happy Reading!