We were quite surprised to discover shortly after adopting Bella and Bubaloo that neither kid could read. At the ages of 9 and 11, and having spent at least 5 years in the school system, no one had ever picked up on the fact that they had been faking it. The written word made no sense to either child.
Bella quickly picked up the skill of reading and shortly thereafter turned into a voracious book worm. She can devour a novel in a single day. Actually, you can often find her up late at night and into the wee hours of the morning having lost track of time as she’s so deeply absorbed into a book.
For Bubaloo, on the other hand, reading hasn’t been so easy. He’s progressed with fits and sputters.
At first we were able to lure him into story time by having us read novels to him. Then, he eased into comics on his own which was followed by a love of graphic novels. He began to love to read, but wouldn’t consider reading anything other than graphic novels or the comics in the newspaper.
A few times over the past year, he’s picked up a novel, but never really got past the first few pages. He claimed that the books he tried out were boring and not rich with imagery like graphic novels were. We kept on trying to convince the kid with the most colourful imagination we’ve ever experienced that if he kept reading he would be able to conjure up images in his head.
We’ve been trying to gently nudge him out of his comfort zone here and there, to no success. We now know that he can read, but he’s not quite at grade level yet, and we really do believe that a love of novels would help him progress in this skill. It might also help encourage him to use an adjective other than ‘nice’ and ‘fun’ in his own writing.
A few years ago, Bella introduced us to the Hunger Games series. She came home enthralled with the first book, quickly devoured the second book and then anxiously awaited for the third book to come out.
Otto picked it up at her recommendation and devoured it as well. It took me a bit longer to get around to it, but during our family vacation while pregnant with the Doodle, I became heavily invested in staying in my lounger to plow through the entire series in a few short days. We’re all big Katniss fans here and have been talking non-stop about how excited we are to go see the Hunger Games in theatre.
Bubaloo’s been mentioning on and off about how the movie is so much better than the book. About how awesome it’s going to be to see the movie. I let him know that he wasn’t going to find out how awesome the movie is, and how much better it is than the book, unless he at least tries reading the book.
I took a gamble. I let Bubaloo know that if he didn’t at least read the first three chapters of the book that we’d all be going to see the Hunger Games without him. I didn’t expect him to read the entire book, but I did expect him to at least give the book a fair shake. I asked if he’d consider trying it out.
He pondered my request for a few minutes and let me know that if I got him the book he’d read the first three chapters. But only the first three chapters.
Bubaloo sat down at the kitchen table on Sunday morning and started the book. He started to read a novel. And not really by force or under duress. Maybe under the conditions of bribery.
I stopped by the kitchen a little later in the morning and asked how it was going. It was going okay he said.
I stopped by the kitchen around lunch and asked how it was going. It was going okay he said. Actually, this book is pretty good, he said. I’m done the first three chapters.
I stopped by the kitchen a little later on in the afternoon and asked how it was going. We were going to the park and would love if he would join us. He grumbled something about leaving his book, and grudgingly decided to join us.
He came back to the Hunger Games later that night, brought it to school yesterday, went right back to reading it again after school yesterday, and again this morning while eating his breakfast.
I happened to glance down at the page number, he’s on page 136. I asked how he was liking the book.
It’s good he told me. Really good. But it’s 300+ pages and he’s a little bit concerned about his ability to finish it by Friday. I let him know that we likely wouldn’t be able to go to the movies this weekend, so he had nothing to worry about, and he was quite relieved. He didn’t say it in so many words, but the way he articulated this I got the impression that he didn’t want the movie to ruin the book for him!
We have another book worm in the house! I’m sure of it. I can’t believe how much of this book he’s consuming and his pace. I’m particularly amazed at how engaged he is in reading, especially yesterday when my ADHD kid forgot to take his meds, that he managed to stay seated in a chair of his own volition reading for 2 or 3 hours straight.
Oh, Hunger Games, I now love you even more for your awesomeness.