Monday 24 September 2007

Reading to My Children

We started reading to Sebastian when he was about 6 weeks old. Seriously. I would sit in his bedroom, next to his crib, as he was falling off to sleep, with a low lit lamp on, in my rocking chair, reading a book. For about 15 seconds. Or until the shrill of his cries drowned out my voice.

But seriously, folks. Once he grew up a bit....about 1 year old, we did start reading to him. And he was a very good listener.

Last year we worked our way through the Narnia trilogy which was a gift to Sebastian for Christmas. At first we thought he wasn't quite following the story. But when we quizzed him on it one night, he proved us woefully mistaken. he could remember what happened from night to night much better than I could. We so underestimate the power of active listening and until a child can read everything for themselves active listening is all they have!

I was not impressed with the Narnia trilogy. I know I am going to get some flack for this. But let's face it, I am NOT a fantasy or science fiction fan. I didn't find the writing magical or the characters fascinating. It all seemed a bit flat.

During the summer we had taken a break from our out loud readings and let Seb read what he wanted to at bedtime. I was contemplating considering letting this continue during the school year when I read an article (O Magazine again, girls!).

This woman (American expat living in Italy married to an Italian) felt the relationship with her son was slipping through her fingers. He was growing up (12 yrs old or so, I think) and she felt like she had lost a vital connection to him. And whilst she knows this has to happen at some point, she felt it was just a bit too soon and wanted to connect with him.

So, she started reading to him whilst they waited for the school bus every morning. She read to him on of her childhood favourites, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.

When I first read the magazine article I thought oh, yeah, like that's going to work. And then I thought back to that book and how much I loved reading it when I was growing up. And then I thought hey, that might work. Hey, this is something we can start now. Why wait for us to lose any more connection?

You see, my son loves Pokemon. No I don't mean loves Pokemon. I mean LOVES Pokemon.

And you see, I don't. Full stop. Am bored stiff. Can't get my head around it. Have tried. Have failed. Not going to go there. So I needed to find some common ground.

I FOUND it! We've started reading Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. I've always wanted to read the book. And now I've got the perfect excuse. This particular book was a Christmas gift from Uncle John & Auntie Mary to Sebastian a few year back. It is a beautiful hardback that has some of the most amazing illustrations I've ever seen not just in a children's book but anywhere.

We are managing about 5 pages/night so this is going to take me a bit longer than I normally take to read a good book. We have made it to about Chapter 5 and I am loving the book. It is truly a literary masterpiece. The language and style in which it is written is captivating. I am also loving watching Sebastian love the book. And I am watching Abigail peek around the corner of the door asking if she can listen in too. Not sure that she gets it but she is trying awfully darn hard.

This just might be one of the few things I get right as a parent. Not counting my chickens yet but one can dream.


Sue said...

In country school our teacher, Mrs. Lofdahl, would read a chapter or two of a book after lunch. The ones I remember are Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. Finding a book to interest kids K-8 had to be a challenge.

LaDawn said...

And even more challenging to find what that interests that age group AND adults.

I was afraid this would frighten him but he seems to thoroughly enjoy it. He really likes my voices....but I can't keep track of what voice is what character so I'm just making it up as I go along!

Ahoy matey!

Shirley said...

I recently heard an interview with an author (I was driving here so no names were taken) who has written a book called "Finn" --this author's exploration of Finn as an old man. Sounds very interesting.

About the Narnia series -- i've never read these, but somewhere I remember hearing that the basis is the Gospel and the lion is the Jesus figure? does that make any connections?

Janell said...

Let me recommend anything by Rudyard Kipling - especially the "Just So Stories." The Laura Ingalls Wilder series is still a family favorite. Our copies are in tatters, we've all read them so many times. And don't forget Marguerite Henry's stories. I could go on forever!
Yes, the Narnia series is the Gospel in metaphor.
Jack & I still like to read together - we've both become fascinated with what I call "fairy tales for grown ups." Books by Neil Gaimon: the titles are escaping me right now, but I'll figure them out and check back later. His book "Stardust" was recently made into a movie, which we enjoyed together.

LaDawn said...

Finn sounds very interesting.

Stardust is on my list of films to see. It hasn't been released in the UK yet. I think it is scheduled for release next week or so.