25 June 2013

Evolving and Adjusting

I haven't been posting this year about what we are reading because how we read with Isaac has changed so much.  Second grade is a transformative year for many students as they become better readers.  They begin to be able to read "in their heads" rather than having to read out loud.  This helps them become more independent readers and they move into chapter books, leaving behind picture books and read-alouds or shared readings.  As a school librarian I get frustrated by the shift from picture books to chapter books so early in childrens' reading development.  I won't go into the reasons I think it happens -- but I get concerned that they are missing out on wonderful literature because they are "supposed" to be reading "harder" books. 

It has been difficult for me to adjust to the fact that Isaac doesn't need me to read to him anymore.  He can sit and read to himself for the 20 minutes that he is supposed to be reading each night.  And, while I like reading chapter books to him, it is just not the same as sharing a picture book and looking over the illustrations together.  He is outgrowing some of my favorite authors/illustrators and that makes me sad.

Now I would be the first to argue that you never outgrow a well written and illustrated picture book.  But it is hard sometimes to convince a seven-year-old boy of that.  All of this is not to say that we do not read with Isaac anymore or that he does not like being read to.  We still have an (almost) nightly storytime.  Matt may read Farside or Calvin and Hobbes with him as he has done for years or they may read through Isaac's latest issue of Sports Illustrated for Kids.  I may read a chapter or two from a novel or force him to sit through a picture book that I choose.  And there are rare occasions when he pulls a picture book off of the shelf.  It is still an important ritual and time to share, but our time reading together, as things tend to do, is evolving as time moves on. 

There have been some moments in the midst of this change that I remember fondly, like the drive to Charlotte in November that Isaac spent reading a Captain Underpants book.  He read for almost the entire hour and a half trip.  And it was a real book, not an e-book on his Kindle.  And I am thankful that his reading is at a level that has him prepared for 3rd Grade.  Next year is a pivotal year for him educationally and there are many scary studies that have determined that students who are not reading on grade level by the end of 3rd Grade find it almost impossible to catch up later.  I am also thankful that Isaac's interests are becoming more defined and he feels comfortable asserting his likes and dislikes.  Unfortunately, his literary likes and dislikes are just about the opposite of mine, which makes finding something that we both want to read a bit difficult.

So what has Isaac been reading?  I mentioned Captain Underpants.  And, of course, he is reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  He likes graphic novels and has read some of the Bone and Sardines series.  This summer my goal is to read some Encyclopedia Brown and Ramona with him.  He hasn't shown an interest in Harry Potter yet, which is fine with me.  I think we can wait on that for another year or two. 

I hope we will always have a time that we set aside to read with Isaac.  As he grows it may not be every day, the purpose of the time will change, and it will look different than it does now.  But our reading time looks different now than it did last year or the year before that or  . . . well, you get the point.  And the purpose of the time is different, too.  It has always been a time to share and spend together, but before Isaac was reading on his own that time was necessary for his cognitive development.  Now that Isaac can sit on the couch with his Kindle and read for 20 minutes in silence, storytime is less cognitively necessary but just as emotionally necessary as it has ever been. At least for me.

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