Sunday, May 15, 2011

U R What U Eat, & Read

I have an emergent reader on my hands. She'd much rather count and figure sums. It's not that she can't read, it's just that she is like a couple of her siblings. Quite bright in some areas, to the point of really not having to work at all for comprehension. Which is great. These types of students are a blast to teach. Except when you hit areas that they have to work in. My kids at least, the ones who "get" certain areas, have a sense of entitlement regarding all of learning. It's nauseatingly easy here, so why work there? Anyone else know what I mean?!

In response to said emergent reader I have succumbed to allowing her to read Strawberry Shortcake, and Dr. Seuss. Seuss I don't mind so much as the cadence and rhythm of the words are redemptive, even though the content may lack. Strawberry Shortcake is pure fluff, though to an 8 yo girly girl, the excessive use of pink in the pictures and the super duper sweet characters is what it's all about. I also, PaxRoMommma that I am, require her to read the first page of whatever book we're reading out loud together, demanding that she read every.single.word. (no glossing over articles, short changing endings, mumbling difficult words), even though it's about 3-4 grades "ahead" of where she's at. I demand that she sound  out words, practice syllabication, read the whole darn thing, even, and perhaps especially, when the word might be something difficult, like necessary or piecemeal, or supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. I am constantly putting increasingly difficult reading in front of my kids and requiring that they, drum roll please, read it. I want them to own the mechanics of reading and I want them to own the wisdom that they can reap from challenging words, written by the wisdom of the ages. Am I a mean Momma? Yeah, and? Am I an effective one? 5 for 5.

I don't believe that giving a kid something to read, anything to read, "as long as they are reading," is a healthy philosophy. Brain candy is good on occasion (Startgate Atlantis, anyone?) but will erode the strength of a person if taken as a regular habit. That's why Strawberry Shortcake is a one time run in our home and why Goosebumps will never see the light of day here. I don't serve up Twinkies 3 meals a day and say, "at least they're eating" anymore than I serve up bland and life sucking books and call it reading or, even worse, education.

"Listen, listen to me and eat what is good and your soul will delight in the richest of fare." (Isaiah 55:2) 

"For we let our young men and women go out unarmed in a day when armor was never so necessary. By teaching them to read, we have left them at the mercy of the printed word. By the invention of the film and the radio, we have made certain that no aversion to reading shall secure them from the incessant battery of words, words, words. They do not know what the words mean; they do not know how to ward them off or blunt their edge orgling them back; they are a prey to words in their emotions instead of being the masters of them in their intellects.We have lost the tools of learning, and in their absence can only make a botched and piecemeal job of it."  ~Dorothy Sayers 
Just as it's important to get a firm grasp of the mechanics of reading, it's important to use the tool of reading well. Filling our kids heads with useless or gruesome information is a waste of their brain space and an abuse of their youth and emotion.

What's on your summer reading list? What's on theirs?

Find more articles of interest at Graceful and The Legacy of Home:


Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

How do you feel about series like My America or the American Girl books? Those are my newly-turned seven year old's obsession, although she does love and read Laura Ingalls Wilder over and over again, too. She's my oldest, and I often feel like I'm walking in the dark as far as my homeschooling expectations are concerned.

LaughingLioness said...

Amy- my oldest devoured those books as well! I think they are good, especially for younger girls. We were reading a Dear America book on Queen Victoria. I had really discounted the history but then we watched a movie about QVicky and the notsolittles knew a TON of stuff!
Sonlight, Bethleham Books, Veritas Press all have GREAT reading lists ; ) You are doing a great job if your 7 year old is reading so well! Keep up the amazing job ; )!

Laura O in AK said...

I've tried to keep the 'twaddle' out of the house. But, for some reason my boys still go through a Captain Underpants phase. Thankfully, it doesn't last long.

What I've done is to do great stories as audiobooks. That way they see what wonderful adventures await them when ready to read at a more advanced level. A few librarians even suggested finding a book that would interest them in both print and audio format. Then, they can listen to the story and follow in the book.

Laura@OutnumberedMom said...

No Twinkies three times a day here! (and no Goosebumps either!) I say read the good stuff.

Deanna said...

Hear, hear! I enjoyed this post very much.

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

Thanks for responding! My girls listen to audiobooks over and over (and over and over) again, too, to which I attribute their precocious vocabularies. ;-) I try to choose books they can't yet read on their own, classics included. So far it's working. :-)

Michelle DeRusha@Graceful said...

Interesting food for thought here. I admit, I let my oldest read Goosebumps and other sub-standard fare. But he also reads the Bible and has read many classics (including an abridged version of my husband's favorite, Moby Dick!). We've talked about the dicey parts of all the books he's read, including the Old Testament -- there is definitely some material for discussion in there!

Thanks for linking up to Graceful this's lovely to meet you here!