I have a confession to make. I'm a writer and live in a home filled with books, yet the Boy hates to read. I mean really hates to read. It's always been this way. His daily assigned 20 minutes of reading is only achieved through the extraction of blood, sweat, and tears. By the end, I wonder if I've really won. Is it worth it I'm starting to ask?
He never picked up reading quickly like kids are made to feel like they're supposed to. By the tender age of 2nd grade he was already being trotted off to the 'Reading Center' in school with the other 'slow' readers, where I think more of what went on was the slow inculcation of not being good enough, rather than fostering any love of reading.
If you're a parent with a kid who doesn't particularly like to read, you're probably familiar with the following oft spoken words:
It's just a matter of him finding the right book, and he'll take off!
He'll come to it in his own time.
And maybe even:
Reading is the gateway to all knowledge.
Is it really? Don't get me wrong. I'm about as voracious a reader as you'll find. I often have two or three books going at the same time, a mix of fiction and non-fiction. I've always been this way and I read from an early age. And the Boy has been read to since he was in the womb (maybe too much of a good thing?) So it is not for lack of exposure in his life, that he hasn't particularly taken to books. Of course, it is also well known that boys often don't like to read nearly as much as girls and come to an appreciation of it later – if ever.
Now, the Boy may not like to read but he loves stories and he likes non-fiction, science type books a lot. Not that he'll sit and read them for very long, but he does enjoy them sometimes. He has always loved to hear stories, either read aloud by me or someone else. And he seems to have an uncanny feel for story structure in movies, constantly one step ahead of me and everyone else watching, it by predicting what's going to happen next. Maybe he's a budding screenwriter, who knows?
He has never been the recipient of an official label or learning disability. I don't think he has one. His brain, at least so far, is just not wired for fluent reading. But it seems to be wired really well for other things. Having found myself frustratingly on the other side of read-or-die pendulum throughout the Boy's school and homeschooling career so far, it has made me question my own long held beliefs about reading which is sometimes made out to be the only path to success as a human being. This is ridiculous of course. The world is full of dyslexic entrepreneurs and musicians, by way of just a few examples, who seem to have done just fine.
So if you're a parent who has a kid who really hates to read and find yourself feeling bad or guilty every seven and a half minutes because your child isn't exceling fast enough into the realm of literary knighthood to make her teacher or local librarian apoplectic with praise, consider these non-traditional ways in which kids can learn:
--Teach your kid how to be an entrepreneur
--Playing video games can actually make you smarter and make a better world
--Kids who garden show a better ability to concentrate
--Daydreaming is good for kids
--If you homeschool, let your kids come to reading naturally and in their own time and they will most likely become fluent readers early.
If all else fails, just remember, Percy Shelley was expelled from Oxford, Lord Byron didn't do well at Cambridge, Thomas Edison was kicked out of public school, and Buckminster Fuller was expelled from Harvard -- twice!
actor-writer-director, improviser, mother, traveler, life renegade