A few nights ago my eldest son was up late reading. When I was ready to take myself to bed I checked on him one more time. I stroked his hair and asked if he wanted me to tuck him in with a prayer. He put down his book, smiled, and said, "I'll pray". And he did.
"Thank you God for making me one of the privileged boys who like to read — not a lot of boys like to read. Amen."
I've tried to honor him as the oldest by allowing him to stay up a bit later; he's allowed to read until he's ready to sleep... because he's nine now, because he's the oldest, because he's reading good literature, and because he's a bundle of energy during all his other waking hours. These evening hours have proven the mystical key with the power to unlock his peaceful place, and so I have placed it into his hand along with the freedom to wield it liberally. In his bed, when the house is still, my son's imagination moves freely. When his body is finally calm, his inner life awakens and walks around the lands in which he sojourns... Literarily speaking. Hour after hour of reading has also proven the magical key capable of unlocking 10,000 pages this school year! 10,000 pages he read!
At the beginning of his foray into chapter books we made a deal, "I choose a book, then you choose a book, then I choose a book, then you choose a book..." Sure he read through the entire Diary of a Wimpy Kid collection (two times!), but he also read The Odyssey, White Fang, The Last of the Mohicans, Robin Hood, One Thousand and One Arabian Nights, and Swiss Family Robinson. His younger brother's Captain Awesome series were listed among his pages, but so were the nine hundred pages of his Action Bible, also counted twice from Genesis to Revelation!
I dare not title this post, "How you too can raise a reader!" But I did share in this earlier post a few things we did from the start, more to foster a loving bond between us than to light the fire for great literary works. Joyfully I'm discovering that both loves took root and are now bearing fruit in his nine year old heart.
Earlier today I was asking him probing questions about the current book he's reading. Masterpiece, by Elise Broach, is an engaging Mystery about a complicated Art heist at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. When I asked my young scholar why someone would steal a piece of art that could never be sold publicly he responded, "Some people sell the art on the black market and make a lot of money, but some other people steal art for... Love." After talking a bit more about how passionate individuals get about some of the Great Artists of the Renaissance we read a short biography on the German painter Durer. Durer's famous ink sketching entitled "Fortitude" is the Masterpiece that the story Masterpiece revolves around.
While I sometimes worry that I'm not testing for reading comprehension the way the schools do, (this is afterall my first year homeschooling), every now and again we have a conversation like this one and I think to myself,
I'm totally giving this kid an A+!"
For Literature and Bible and History, especially, I grade my boys on our conversations not our tests. Do they comprehend these wonderful point and the virtues and the meat of it all so well that we can have conversations about it all?
I remember a day earlier this school year, when I took Caleb shoe shopping. He needed some new flip flops and he found a pair by the brand OSIRUS. Walking out of the store Caleb casually mentioned, "I love that my new flip flops say OSIRUS on them." "Why", I asked. "Don't you remember? Osiris was the Egyptian God who was killed by his Brother Set and thrown into the Nile. His wife cried so may tears that the Nile flooded and now the Nile floods every year." We kept on walking, but I smiled and thought to myself "A+."
Here are a couple of great read-aloud references:
These next two are recent blog posts by mom's who have been reading to their children longer than I have, and have a thing or two to say about what they have learned.
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