February 21, 2016

     As I write this post, I am making the most awesome discovery ever. But first...I will catch you up.

     Every night, time permitting, I read aloud to my two boys, Rabbit (9) and Hippo (7). I do this for many reasons. Both of them need it, first of all. One of them truly struggles with reading, and the other one truly struggles with finding the motivation to read. I consider this nightly reading time equivalent to forcing my children to eat organic kale after a day full of sugary, processed foods. It has to do SOME good and wipe away SOME bad, right? This is what I'm thinking.
     One of the most important reasons I have for committing to this reading time is that perhaps it will inspire them to, someday, choose some decent books to read on their own. To this end, I allow them to do some of the choosing (while also surrounding them with book choices that are not THAT bad). There is always, of course, the school library...and even better...school book fairs. Don't get me wrong. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the school library or the book fair. I actually love these two opportunities for kids to make their own reading selections. It can be assumed, however, that neither of my children will ever come home with a book bearing a metal on the cover. They search as if they have been programmed with certain tag words and phrases: Lego, Bionicle, Star Wars, Easy Reader, Diaper, Captain, and Underpants. I actually read one of these books that came home from the book fair during our reading time. I'm not sure what happened. I'm fairly certain that I read at a level higher than the reading level of the "good captain", but about two minutes into reading it, I heard, "Wah-wah-wah-wah-wah-waaaaaaaaaaah...", and it was coming from ME. I just couldn't stay with it. By the end of the first chapter, I just didn't get it. No clue. Had the boys given me comprehension questions, I would have failed. Miserably.
     This made me think about the fact that it wouldn't be a bad idea to use this reading time as a time to turn them on to a new series they might enjoy on their own. Of course, I reached for Diary of a Wimpy Kid first, and both kids immediately decided they weren't into it (we have tested them to ensure they are human boys...testing was inconclusive). but really, there's something to be said for a good series. It hooks the reader and can do wonders for a reluctant reader. it was Hippo who found My Life As A Book.

     My Life As A Book was written by Janet Tashjian and illustrated by her 14-year-old son, Jake Tashjian. While the book follows standard chapter book form, Derek, the 12-year-old main character, states in the beginning of the book, that he often has difficulty with reading and other school-related tasks, so he keeps a running journal of illustrations that depict the vocabulary words he finds challenging. Unfortunately, Derek's struggle with reading and his love for mischief and adventure combined, do not cultivate a love of learning. This was a relatable topic in my house and may hit close to home in other families. 
     Summer comes, and Derek is looking forward to randomly decorating the bushes outside his house with Christmas decorations (seriously, I died laughing as I read this) and other reckless adventures with his buddy, Matt, and his dog, Bodi, when he discovers a family secret in the attic. Just when Derek thinks he has a plan to uncover the truth behind this family secret, his parents send him off to Learning Camp. Learning Camp comes complete with unexpected friendships and a path to even more discoveries.
     This Bank Street "Best Book of the Year" was loved by all of us AND can be followed up with My Life As A Stuntboy, My Life As A Gamer, My Life As A Cartoonist, and My Life As A Joke. Nothing is better than learning a book you loved is the first part of an awesome sequel! 

1 comment:

  1. That book sounds like a hoot. It's always fun when they introduce you to something that you expect to hate, but it turns out fantastic. My daughter actually introduced me to My Father's Dragon. I'd never read it! Have a great week.
    Laughter and Consistency