Monday, September 12, 2011

The Summer of Reading Comes to a Close

If you read "The Mora Literary and Oatmeal Creme Pie Society" back in June, you know that I dubbed this "The Summer of Reading." The idea was for the girls to make the transition from reading as an assigned task to reading for pleasure. Turns out, teaching a child to "enjoy" something isn't that easy. Who knew?

The results were something of a mixed bag. I tried many different strategies to help shape good reading habits. I started with having them read for an hour a day. They could "do" their hour all at once or broken up into two 30 minute segments. Then I realized they were reading about two pages in that hour. 

I switched to a reading plan I used in college as Literature major:  One semester of my senior year, I took five Lit courses which meant on average I had to read about 1,000 pages a week plus write papers. The only way to handle that amount of reading was to break it out to the number of pages I had to read per day. I tried this with the girls by deciding what I thought was an adequate amount of time for them to finish their books then assigning them the corresponding number of pages they would need to read each day so they met my (arbitrary and unrealistic) deadline.

My mother had to pull me aside and tell me to loosen my stranglehold and that my plan was probably going to make them hate reading rather than love it.

I did agree to at least loosen my grip. I came up with more realistic time frames for the girls to reasonably finish a book. I went back to the reading "time" approach, and only broke out the page per day assignment if I saw they were in danger of missing the agreed upon "finish" date. 

Lastly, I read...a lot. Summer is really my only chance to get a significant amount of reading done anymore, so I led by example.  Here is an actual conversation the girls and I had one night before bed as we put away our books:

Bronte:  I read 22 pages today!
Chloe:   I read 19.
Me: Good job, guys!
Bronte:  How many pages did you read today, Mommy?
Me: 350.
Chloe:  Well, that's just crazy.
Me:  You're probably right.

The girls did finish the pile of books and then some. 

They did enjoy each book, though they didn't say so until they had finished it, leaving me wondering whether the real pleasure lay more in that it was over rather than the story itself. 

On the other hand, Bronte has determined that, so far, her favorite author is Scott O'Dell and Chloe wants to read the entire Laura Ingalls Wilder collection of books.

I had set as my personal summer reading goal to read the Harry Potter collection. I did that and read a few others as well. School has started and my time is mostly consumed. I started reading DuMaurier's The Infernal World of Branwell Bronte on the first day of school.  It's been two weeks and I'm still on chapter one. 

Despite the tears and arguments, the deadlines and arbitrary goals, the most wonderful achievement of the "summer of reading" were those quiet moments of reading with my daughters, browsing the library and the used book stores, and talking about what we read. By the end of the summer, I was having to ask less questions of them to check for comprehension; they were running to me saying, "Guess what just happened in my book!"

Are they lovers of books yet? No.

But I can say they are friends of books, at least.  And that is good enough for now.

Bronte (9), proud of the books she read this summer:  A Wrinkle in Time, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Island of the Blue Dolphins and The Borrowers.  Currently reading:  The Black Pearl by her favorite author, Scott O'Dell.

Chloe (7), with her summer reading achievements:  Little House in the Big Woods, Little House on the Prairie, Ramona the Pest, The Mouse and the Motorcycle, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.  Currently reading The Borrowers.

And me. No, my house wasn't clean enough and yes, we ate out way too much this summer, but I was in bookworm heaven!

1 comment:

Tracy said...

I see "These Happy Golden Years" in that stack! Always a fave :)