Monday, September 27, 2010

How to Raise Boys Who Read -- Signs of the Times News

How to Raise Boys Who Read -- Signs of the Times News: ""

My husband handed me this article today on his way out the door. He thought I might want to take a look at it. The article is entitled "How to Raise Boys Who Read". Very interesting topic as we have five sons, and I feel that reading is the number 1 essential to a good education, and number 2 to pretty much nothing other than the study of faith, for which, (mostly)one must know how to read.

I am an avid reader, and a life long lover of the classics. My mother developed a love of books in us early on. She gave me some classics to read when I was really small, probably as early as 1st grade. So I grew up on The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew and Little Women, and An old Fashioned Girl. I fell head over heels in love with books. With a mother who was also a great reader, I had access to plenty of books, many of them saved from her own childhood. I still have many of her treasured copies of Nancy Drew.

I remember clearly when my mom gave me Anne of Green Gables, my favorite book of all time. We were going on vacation, so we stopped at our favorite used books store (which may as well have been Disney Land to me)and she got me a well read copy. I devoured that book in short order, only to turn back to the first page and read it all over again. I think I have probably read it fifty times. I have read it at least once a year since I got it, and have actually read it many times in one year. It is a comfort to me. I love the way Anne (Anne with and "e"!) thinks, I love how she sees the world around her, and I love that she has a good imagination. I have taken pieces of that book and tried to instill a healthy imagination in all of my kids, as well as a love for the written word.

Though I love Anne with all of my heart, I have to mention the real trigger that turned me into a life long reader. Remember the Trixie Belden books? Well, a sweet little friend gave me the first one along with a bunch of other books as a gift for my 11th birthday. The Trixie Belden series were very sweet little mysteries based on friendship, honor, integrity and love of fellow man. I fell in love all over again. My mom would take me to the book store in the mall and let me get two at a time. I can remember worrying about what I would do when I ran out of Trixie Belden books. What would I read?! Turns out, everything I could get my hands on.

We homeschool a crowd here, and in doing so, one of my goals has always been to create readers. I wanted my children to be able to travel the world, time, and space through books. I think I am working on a 70/30 ratio, which is okay, but it took us a long time to get here. My oldest didn't turn into a reader until she was about 17, and she discovered (shudder) the Twilight books. I shudder because there is such an abundance of truly wonderful literature at her fingertips. I have purchased and collected books from the moment I started reading. My kids barely have to go to the library, we have so many books here. While the Twilight books are by no means what I would have chosen as a trigger, they have turned my girl into a reader, at last.

My other children have had a somewhat better start, having always been homeschooled. Everyone in my house read the Wimpy kid books over the summer, even my 2nd grader. They LOVED them! From the oldest all the way down to Kolbe, they were a hit. My younger kids seem to be somewhat less jaded than the two who went to school, and more open to the classics. (There isn't anyone here telling them they are dorky!) So, we have read a number of lovely books outloud, such as Sarah, Plain and Tall and we've recently started reading Tom Sawyer. We had so much fun reading the Junie B. Jones books, even my oldest would listen in because they were so funny! I think reading to the kids, even the big ones, is as important as getting them to read. Don't be shy about funny voices and sound effects - those things make the stories come to life in the imagination of your child! If you need a place to start, get a couple of the Shel Silverstein books such as A Light in the Attic or Where the Sidewalk Ends. They are light hearted and really funny. Children love them, and they will memorize them quick as you please.

Well, this turned into a big, long love story when what I wanted to post was a cautionary tale. You see, all these years, I have never allowed video games into the house. Then, for some reason I still cannot imagine, I caved and let both my son and daughter get a DSi for their birthdays. Now I feel like a sell out. I feel like taking the games away and handing them each a copy of Sign of the Beaver or Little House on the Prairie or something a bit more worthwhile. So, read the article - and go a buy a truly good book and read it with your boys, and your girls - do what you can to make them fall in love with books. And while I don't mind if they read the occasional "Captain Underpants" if that's what it takes to get them to read, I think it's important to read really good books. Like Treasure Island and Oliver Twist and Sherlock Holmes and Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. And the Chronicles of Narnia! And a hundred others. There's good stuff out there, there's a reason they have been loved for generations. Fill your children's hearts with these lovely stories. Your children, and their SAT scores, will thank you for it.

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