I remember a day when I loved to immerse myself in a book. I would lie on my bed for hours taken to a faraway place in my imagination. Many of my favorite books helped formed my opinions, encouraged me to dream and see life through the eyes of others. Somewhere along the way, I stopped reading for fun. I began reading to do well on tests, because someone assigned the reading and to further my knowledge in my career. Then work, family, kids and life took up time so that reading for pure enjoyment seemed to slip away. Don’t get me wrong, we read at our house. We read children’s books all of the time. The kids enjoyed listening to the books, but it wasn’t until I was working with my son on his reading skills that I began to look at things differently. He began to groan every time I grabbed a book or we said “let’s read.” Tears rolled down his face as he struggled with remembering his sight words and attempting to sound words out. A word that he remembered one line prior was like a never before seen word just one line down. “Reading is NOT fun, mom. It’s too hard.” I thought to myself about my memories as a child and how much I loved to read. I realized that I stopped setting an example for my kids. They NEVER saw me reading for enjoyment. I decided to make a change. I grabbed a book for myself and I had my son grab a book he was excited about. I made sure he knew that he could look at the pictures, try to sound out words or ask me for help occasionally, but we were not going to “work” at reading during this time. We needed to find the joy of reading again.
We often disagreed about what books he should be reading. I tried to choose books that matched his reading level, but he was not always interested in those books. He picked books that he was interested in, but the books he chose were too difficult for him. I finally realized that maybe that was okay. It was okay for him to choose books that he got excited about and that his friends might be reading. Yes, he was looking at pictures and doing minimal actual reading, but he was enjoying it. He began asking me questions about my book, if I liked my book and we had conversations about what he was looking at. Slowly but surely, reading was becoming fun.
We have since made a habit of hanging out together and reading over the last couple of years. Earlier this summer, while my son and I were lying down each reading our own books, my son said to me, “Mom, this is one of my favorite things to do with you.” Tears welled up in my eyes and suddenly, as much as I liked reading as a child, I realized that this was even better.