Friday, March 25, 2005

The boy who reads

Son1, age 9, is reading Treasure Island this week. He reads at a fairly high level, so it's interesting to keep him supplied with books that are appropriate to his age and maturity as well as his reading ability. Older books are often better (more complex language in books for young kids). The last week or so of observing his reading choices has gotten me thinking.

He read a couple of Redwall books and then didn't really ask me for a library trip to get the next Redwall book (he's read perhaps eight in this long series). When he's between books I like to have some select library books for him. That works well sometimes to get him reading other kinds of stories, but sometimes he will have none of that and just reads Bionicle comics.

In this particular reading lull, we visited the City's downtown library; he found a followup to Gregor the Overlander and read that by the next day. Another day he read Son2's picture books we'd gotten from the library. Day before yesterday he read all of the National Geographic Kids and Ranger Ricks he had received in the last several months.

That same day, I think, he was moaning about not having anything to read and I suggested the edition of Treasure Island I'd picked up at the library. No interest, until I opened the book up and pointed out the feature that led me to bring it home: lots and lots of marginal drawings, explanations of terms, and notes on the story. He decided it might be worth a look, and started reading it.

The other important aspect of this edition of Treasure Island is that the typeface is moderately large and the margins are wide -- his personal copy is more densely typeset and I really believe that puts him off the somewhat difficult books at this point in his reading.

A couple of months ago he thoroughly enjoyed The Hobbit, and went on to try the first book in The Lord of the Rings trilogy -- but gave up after a while. I compared the two books and noticed that the edition of The Hobbit that he'd read (from our public library) was a larger book with larger typeface and wider margins than "normal" -- and the LOTR book (from our church library) was a standard paperback with small type and skinny margins. I prefer to read bigger typeface with broader margins, too! At some point I'll see if the library has a nicer edition of the LOTR books; I'm pretty sure Son1 would find it quite enjoyable to read.

Anyway, Son1 is about a quarter of the way through Treasure Island and seems to be enjoying it quite a lot. Hurrah!

I finished the first sock (ripped out the foot all the way once and 1 1/2 inches another time) and am to the heel on the second sock. I need to switch to a needlework project with a deadline, so I may get yarn to start a relatively simple stole for TV knitting, homework knitting, waiting knitting, etc.


portuguesa nova said...

Very impressive! I am a huge reader, my husband is a flip through 1,000 magazines for 5 seconds each type of reader. I really hope our (not yet born) children will have my love of reading.

Have you read to him from a very young age?

Barbara said...

We did read to him from his first months on. I'm the big reader and my husband, not so much -- though the living room has bookcases of books, stacks of library books, and piles of magazines and other reading material. We read a lot, and I've loved to read ever since I was about four or five.

Son1 didn't show an early interest in reading. He knew a number of words by sight when he entered first grade (age 6 1/2), but it wasn't until that October that reading really started to happen for him.

At that point I was prepared for a slow, steady increase in skill level, but he didn't do it that way. I tell people that it wasn't so much like a light switch had been turned on as it was like a power relay had been flipped -- he was off like a rocket! Simple chapter books by late winter, a slow read of the first Harry Potter that summer!

This year he's in third grade and I continue to rely on my compilation of book recommendations when I look for good, age- and skill-appropriate books for him from the library. Always a challenge, but ever so fun, too.

Jana said...

Hi - I also have a 3rd grader who reads above his grade level. He enjoyed The Hobbit, too. I haven't been blogging long, but feel free to come by and visit - we have a few things in common!

Barbara said...

Jana, thanks for the comments. I just got a book from the library that looks interesting: "Some of my Best Friends are Books" -- about books, reading, and gifted/advanced kids. Do you have a blog address you'd be willing to share?