This summer, Carl and I had set a reading goal for Alex. He had been excited about the 'Magic Treehouse' books, so I found a special on a set of the first 16 of them. The goal was to get through basically one Treehouse book each week during the summer.
This failed miserably.
Every time I suggested Alex read a book, he would groan and moan and act like I'd ask him to change the cat box. He liked to read in the evening, which we've always done. But anytime we'd try and vary from the predestined reading hour, it was like pulling teeth. And God forbid we ask him to do the reading, as opposed to us reading to him. I couldn't understand it. Carl and I both LOVE to read. We read obsessively. We both average about 2-3 books a week. Why weren't our children picking up this love for books?
We tried reading time, where all four of us would sit together in the living room with our own books and read to our ourselves. Didn't work.
We tried blackmail, offering one minute of video game time for each minute spent reading. Didn't work. Alex even complained incessantly that the ten minutes of reading went on FOREVER, whereas the ten minutes of game time had barely even started before it was over.
So last Saturday, I took the boys to Barnes and Noble, and told them they could buy any book they wanted, but they had to read it.
Ryan chose the Clone Wars Encyclopedia. Which is rather perfect for him, since he can't really read words yet, but can read the pictures quite well.
He was quite excited to see a word he knew on the cover. "The." He happily exclaimed, "I know this word, Mama!"
Alex wanted to buy 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid.' I looked through it, and while I wasn't the happiest with the subject matter, I was willing to give it a try.
This was last Saturday.
And something... magical happened.
Alex started to read. On his own. Voluntarily.
He made sure the book was in his backpack every day, so that he could read it at the YMCA aftercare. He asked to stay up late so he could keep reading.
Wednesday night, one hour after we tucked him in, I saw his light was still on. And I found him like this:
Thursday night, he finished 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid. All 200+ pages of it.
On Friday, we went and bought Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2, 3 and 4.
He started reading #2 on the way home.
I owe Jeff Kinney a tremendous amount of thanks and gratitude. He finally got Alex to love to read by himself. I'm so happy I'm even overlooking the occasional bad word (for a 1st grader) in the books.