Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I love to read. I guess growing up in a family who enjoyed books didn't hurt, neither did having a librarian mum (and dad for a while...well he wasn't really a librarian, but they did both work at the National Library...); Nor did growing up in a time where the most exciting thing playing on the TV on a Saturday afternoon was an old movie...

Anyway, I've always tried to encourage reading in the house. I've filled it with books and Anthony (who is not a keen reader but understands the value of good role models) and I have always read to the kids and listened to them read.

When Samuel was little, his favourite books were the Dr Seuss ones I read to him over and over: 'Green Eggs and Ham' (how could he resist a book with a character named Sam I am?), 'One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish', and one called 'Sam and the Firefly' (again with the name!).
He also liked an obscure little book called 'Apple Mouse', which I read to him again and again.

We did all the home reading stuff (I even volunteered at school to change them every morning), and he picked up the whole reading thing pretty quickly.
When he was in year three, Sam's teacher noticed that he 'drifted off' from time to time. His handwriting was also pretty awful, so we got a heap of tests done.
It turned out that Sam did have some fine motor problems, and he had to do some occupational therapy to strengthen his hands, but that was the only 'problem'. The IQ test results were high, and in grade three, he was reading at a 12 year old+ level.

Which was good for a while. He got into books, especially ones like the 'Captain Underpants' series, and a wide range of non-fiction.

But after a while he started to lose interest. He found other things that he enjoyed more - friends, video games, bikes and toys, and was reading less and less. By the time he was 12-13, he didn't read books at all. It wasn't that he couldn't, it was more that he didn't want to.

It didn't help that his friends didn't read much either. In fact their attitude made me giggle sometimes! I remember saying to Jake (one of Sam's best friends) "are you going to read the new Harry Potter book?" and he said "why would I read it? I can just see the movie."

Actually, when I think about it, I'm not too worried. Sam (and his friends) were (are) all intelligent, articulate kids who did pretty well at school anyway. And the more I learn about new ways of learning (through my fabulous new job) the more I let go of the 'kids must read books' mentality.
I do like it when they do though - it gives me something to talk about with them!

But despite not reading much for his own pleasure, one thing that Sam did do well is read to Oliver. And most of the time he did it willingly. I talked to him about being a good role model (not saying that books, school was boring was my main point), and he was. He quite often read to Oliver, even right up to the week before he died. Oliver loved snuggling up next to him and hearing him read, and I think Sam secretly loved it too.

Oliver's showing some signs of being more of a book lover, even now. He'll happily listen to me read (we're up to Harry Potter 4 at the moment), and is pretty enthusiastic about reading for himself. He likes the same books that Sam liked, and more. I'm hoping that he'll keep it up!

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