When Story was younger, not much younger though, I was obsessed with her learning to read. She loved books — rather, she loved being read to. She especially loved audiobooks (the ones Ali hates, with the character voices). Her vocabulary was quite advanced for her age, due to being read to all the time, I’m guessing. However, she had no interest whatsoever in learning how to read. And when Story has no interest, her mind goes everywhere else. I just knew I was going to be the only editor in the world with an illiterate child.
If you are worried about your child learning to read, take heart. That oh-so-annoying (but secretly fabulous) advice of “just wait; it will click” is so very true. Seemingly overnight, she learned to read. It really did just click.
After she — hallelujah! — learned to read, I was ecstatic for about two minutes, then the worry barreled in. What if she didn’t want to read? My dreams of having a mother-daughter book club would be shattered. What would I talk to her about if we couldn’t talk books? My fears were realized when she just shrugged at my attempts to tempt her with books. I, of course, panicked and shoved books in her hands and on her shelves. I even tucked some in with the stuffed animals on her bed.
She read when she had to: for homework or to allay my tears. And when she did read, she didn’t challenge herself; she read beneath her level. She had a brief love affair with Mo Willems’ books, which I encouraged not least because I have a love affair with Mo Willems’ books too. But once she went through those, which was rather quickly considering her level of reading at the time, she was done.
I tried something new. Her absolute favorite audiobooks were the How to Train Your Dragon books. So, I gave up my obsession with challenging texts and instead went for interest. It worked! Even though she had already listened to all these books, she devoured the paperbacks. She begged to stay up past bedtime to read “just one more chapter.” She insisted on taking them with her to school. She even compared the movies to them, rather critically in fact.
This led to interest in other dragon books, then other fantasy books, and then just other books. I can’t yet say that she is an avid reader, and when I mention my wonderful idea of a mother-daughter book club, she just rolls her eyes, but she does like to read. In fact, I just recently witnessed a sight that gives me an inkling that she might just love it. Irritated with how long it takes Story to do anything and long past the time she should have been home from walking down our road from the bus, I looked out the window and my heart almost stopped. Story was reading a book while walking down the road. I remember those days.
I can now say I am at peace with Story’s reading capabilities and interest. It feels oh so good.