Splendiferous Reading Day

My story: I learned to read at 4 and pretty much didn’t stop reading until I had Sandra 16 years later when I realized that ignoring babies in order to follow a narrative was pretty uncool.  Once we had decided to take the leap and not send the kids to school, I naturally looked forward with great joy and satisfaction to the day when my little homeschool would echo with the thunderous noise of turning pages in a silent room.  Oh, the fun we’d have with Anne Shirley, Encyclopedia Brown, and Bilbo Baggins!

My kids’ story: both needed vision therapy, reading is hard work, and they’d rather dance or juggle a soccer ball than read most days.

Yesterday’s story: Since we returned from our holiday, I’ve let Tias read shorter, easier books rather than picking up where he left off with A Cricket in Times Square.  I believe in what I call ‘on-ramp homeschooling’: just like you don’t just make a left turn and hit the highway at 110kph, you don’t hit the books full-throttle.

Tias spent a while yesterday morning ignoring my call to the table to do our Canadian Geography.  He was busy wrestling our foam roller and getting out some anxious fidgets.  When I returned to the room 20 minutes later, he was curled up with a Geronimo Stilton book.  “Can I trade reading for some of my other homeschooling?  I want to see if I can read a whole book in one day.”

Jan 24 - 366:24

It wasn’t a book in a whole day.  It was 2 hours.

I stood on a chair, singing a made-up song to celebrate his achievement while dancing.  He walked away, astounded that I’d do such a thing to him.  (I believe he’s secretly pleased that I did it and that I kept going even when he wasn’t in the room.)

This is such a big boost to his confidence.

And mine.

And balm to a worried homeschooling mother’s heart.


I’ve written before about the Geronimo Stilton series.  I think it may be one of the top three series of books out there for children intimidated by reading.  Rather than a crowded landscape of little black armies of words marching across a page, the books present well-spaced text that is dotted with words in colours and fonts that seem to dance on the page.  “Come play with me,” they seem to say.


9 thoughts on “Splendiferous Reading Day

  1. hopewellmomschoolagain says:

    Geronimo is cool unless you are learning English! Then some of the expressions are very puzzling (I tried them with my son when he was young–he loved the idea but too many phrases to decode). I’m so happy Tias is enjoying them and finding some joy in reading. It’s been such hard work! Canadian Geography will wait!

  2. Shannon B says:

    I do find you quite inspiring, you know.

    I have a ‘Grade Two Non-Reader’ as I sometimes describe her to ed. shop owners. When she was entering K she said “there are two things I don’t want to learn. I don’t want to learn to read and I don’t want to learn to tell time.” So, here we are nearly three years later, and she suddenly announced she wanted to learn to read. “I want to start a book club at the library. So you better teach me to read.”

    “How about Tuesday?” I said. “Because tomorrow’s busy.”

    So on Tuesday, she read 15 pages of a level 2 reader before putting it down. “That’s enough for now,” she decided.

    That was a week ago. She has done Owl at Home, Mouse Soup, and parts of Frog and Toad.

    She is good for short bursts…if she tries to go beyond her natural interest, she starts getting all the words wrong (I notice this from across the room as she’s reading to herself – not to me).

    Which is all to say, isn’t it a marvel how we assume we know better than they do, and are repeatedly amazed when we find out it isn’t necessarily so? And every time, my reaction is the same – weak with relief. Where’s the faith?!

  3. Jennifer says:

    You made the right call. Both on easing back into school and in going for the reading over other school options. My son is an avid reader at 15 now (vision therapy as well) and we went very slowly with other subjects as well. Also the dance and the picture as well. Way to go.

  4. Belle Wong says:

    I recently did the same happy jig. My eight year old only liked reading picture books – he’s very visual so artwork in books has always been a very important thing to him. Our transition to chapter books has been fraught with challenges – there are only so many Captain Underpants and Ricky Robot books out there, and despite the colourfulness of Geronimo Stilton, he likes the graphic novel versions so much better.

    But he also likes to listen to audiobooks at night, and recently I borrowed one of the Stink (Judy Moody’s brother) novels for him. That did the trick! After listening to Stink, he became eager to read the books, too. I was so happy!

  5. Kris says:

    My husband and I were both like you and yes, looked forward to the days when our horde was all absorbed in reading… Then came kid No 2 who patiently and sometimes loudly explained WHY he didn’t need to know how to read, why he would never, how many things were better than reading and there was no way he would ever read. Sigh. He turned 9 in September. He reads. Entire books in two days. He thinks it’s hilarious that I also want to do a entire song and dance about this. I’m so glad there is another mother in the world who would do a dance to celebrate!

  6. Navhelowife says:

    Three cheers for him!! And we love the Geronimo Stilton books. They are such fun to read!! Did you know they were originally written in Italian? We have a copy of one of the Italian ones we bought when we lived over there.

  7. Kika@embracingimperfection says:

    I am thankful that life often challenges us to let go of pre-formed expectations and pushes us to growth. While we don’t have reading delays or struggles, my third child has some health challenges which are changing the face of our homeschooling to some degree. There is a little resistance since it is easier to follow the path I’ve already formed. But then parts of me are excited and grateful that we have this push to look at things differently and let go of what worked in the past. She is a different person with some different needs and I adore her and want to do what is best for her not simply what might feel most familiar to me.

  8. Melissa says:

    What are the other two series you would recommend? Active, perfectionist, reluctant reader with potential vision therapy needs…My sweet boy is all of the above and more. I admire your approach to your life and find much wisdom in you words. Thank you for sharing.

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