Thursday, July 17, 2008


Yesterday I took our grandson to Nashville to fly home to California. We had a great visit but I found myself becoming increasingly upset during his time here because he struggles to read and now has an aversion to it. How could a would be author have a grandchild who not only dislikes reading, but actually does poorly at it?

He is no dummy. Give him a video game or other electronic device and he excels. Math doesn't daunt him either; but put a written paragraph in front of him and he chokes. His stumbling progress is painful to him and anyone listening to his recitation.

I found myself torn between the desire to be a doting grandparent and a reading teacher. He's already been held behind a year in school due to this problem. Now he is older, taller and still struggling. He's had all the tests. They say that he has trouble concentrating on what he reads. Because he reads haltingly, he becomes easily bored and gives up. His teacher recommended that he go to summer school but his parents gave in to his wishes to have the summer off.

Here is where I had to learn to curb my tongue. Didn't they understand the importance of reading? What were they thinking? Who cares what he wants? He needs to read! Thankfully I was able to able to broach this gently with them. In the meantime our little non-reader was kept busy all day long doing fun things he liked, while all the time reading as he went along. I became a liar, but for a good cause. He now has returned to California thinking that his "old" Grandma in Alabama has trouble seeing so he had to help her read. My ego was a little bruised, but I will survive. I know that I sent him home a little better reader and he had the satisfaction of thinking that he really helped me as he read me cookie recipes, the signs on the way to the swimming pool and the paper to decide which movie we would go see.

I fear that in the long run reading will not win over Nintendo DS, but we both had a good time and maybe I helped him just a little bit.


Karen Beeching said...

Good for you, Diane. Reading is so important!

I had this same issue with my son when he was young (he's 18 now). I got over it by giving him things he enjoyed reading. He was addicted to video games no matter how little I allowed him to play them--they were his world when he was given the opportunity.

So, despite the disapproval of others, I purchased a couple of subscriptions to gaming magazines. Not only was it cool to get something in the mail each month, but it was his favorite topic. He would read these repeatedly until the print was practically worn off the pages. I would get questions like, "What does decimate and ominous mean?" I didn't care that he wasn't reading the classics, he was reading!

Eventually, this paid off and all the naysayers had to admit it was a method that worked. He went from two grades behind to nearly an honors student.

I'm with you, whatever works, as long as they keep reading!


JoAnn said...

I'm right there with you, Diane and Karen.

My daughter hated reading and rushed through every reading assignment. Her goal was to get it over with. Therefore she would guess at words instead of really look at them. Every reading homework assignment was a nightmare.

Then we discovered Archie and Betty and Veronica comic books. She LOVED them. She would actually READ them aloud to me. Granted, I know she was looking at the pictures for visual clues, but at least she was reading! And Karen, people criticized me for that too -- I would by them by the truckload. "That's not really reading" they would say. And I would reply "It's more reading than she'd be doing if I didn't buy them for her."

Now, at 23, she loves to read.

So keep the faith Diane. You did the right thing and I bet he will become an avid reader too. Especially when your books are published. :-)

Carla Swafford said...

Diane, I got teary eyed reading this. You were so smart in the way you handled it.

Not too long ago I heard that Harlequin started publishing Manga type of books (looks like comic books but more "adult") to encourage young people to read as the number of people reading have dropped drastically.