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Reading books about stuff

Submitted by on Thursday, 17 February 2011 One Comment

Though he’s finished all the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” books and the 10-volume “39 Clues” series – does that make it 390 Clues? – Big Guy is not much on stories. He has a Percy Jackson boxed set waiting for him, as well as the Guardians of Ga’hoole, but he has still complains that there’s nothing he wants to read.

Part of the problem is that I bought the books – granted, I bought them after he expressed an interest, but he seems to have forgotten that. Another factor is that the reading is part of his official homework, and if it’s official homework you must growl, stomp and scowl.

“I hate reading!” he’ll howl.

Except he’s lying. What he really hates is being told what to do, and books that I purchased, coupled with a minutes log and a “thou shalt read” edict, crawl up his back. I almost wish I’d never told him that reading was required, because it took the fun out of it for him. He would have figured it out eventually, but maybe we would have had one more good year before he reached the protest point.

I could see the glazed look. I could see the glances away from the pages that resulted in him spending more time contemplating his navel than absorbing the book. So I made him a deal: Bedtime is eight, unless you want to read. If you do, we’ll turn out the lights at 8:30.

And, luckily, there’s still the library. The wonderful, fabulous library chock full of books that no one’s telling him he has to read.  Shelves of books about stuff – soldiers and athletes and airplanes and cars – as opposed to those made-up tales that Mom tries to force on him. It’s stuff I’m usually not interested in at all, so I thank God every night that he can read it by himself with only the occasional assistance.

Suddenly, Big Guy loves reading. He’ll sit in bed for a half hour every night leafing through pages. He’s not necessarily reading every word on every page, but he’s learning.

He knows who the principals were on each side in World War II, and he can name a few neutral countries as well. He can tell a Sherman tank from an Abrams tank, and he can guess at the vintage of the Abrams based on its paint. He knows that the car of the future doesn’t exist in his head only – someone has actually built the prototype. And while high-speed rail might remain an unaffordable dream for California, he knows what high speed has achieved in other countries.

Most importantly, though, he’s far more fascinated than he is by any work of fiction. Many nights, he’s begging for extra time at 8:30.

Another evil plan works.

Copyright 2011 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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