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You can lead a horse to water…

Today was our first day of homeschooling for the new school year.  To say that I was  nervous at the prospect of adding Jensen as a Kindergarten student, would be a gross understatement.  Especially since he’s, well, Jensen.

I went the route of talking up how exciting it was that he would be beginning Kindergarten with the girls on Monday.  He screamed and fell to the floor.  For a split second, I thought he was excited at the prospect.  Because his excitement scream and his anguish scream are eerily similar.

But I quickly realized the scream was that of despair.  As though I had tortured him and told him Minnie Mouse was not real.  Well.  She isn’t, but I’m not going to be the one to break his heart.

He began yelling from the linoleum, “NO,YOU CAN’T MAKE ME! I WON’T GO TO SCHOOL. IT WILL BE BORING!” Plus some other stuff that I didn’t quite hear, because my head exploded.

After sufficiently threatening him, we settled down to our first official day of My Father’s World Kindergarten.  I find that using a Christian based curriculum balances nicely with my terroristic threats of attending boarding school.  In a harsh climate.

I worked with Jensen one-on-one while Emme and Cailey did their independent A.C.E. work.  About 5 minutes into it, Jensen brightly exclaimed, “GEE MOM, THIS SCHOOL STUFF IS FUN!” And he spent the rest of the day delighting in his Creation Book, number line, and letter A and its little friend B.

Shoot me.

After the girls finished their A.C.E. workbooks, we set about learning our Geography, History, and Science all together.  Everything was going marvelously until we got to the independent reading portion of Geography.  MFW recommends a well stocked book basket filled with books about what is being studied.  I dutifully stocked our basket with books from the library.  The assignment was to select a book of choice, and then spend 15 minutes quietly perusing the book.  Looking at the pictures would be fine as well.

This is where I lost Cailey.  Who secretly believes that she will spontaneously burst into flames if she has to, gulp, READ A BOOK.  Please understand, the child can read.  She reads well when forced to read something out loud.  But I have never, ever, been able to get her to pick up a book, on her own accord, and use it as anything other than a weapon.  Much less to read for pleasure.

Or displeasure.

Or anything.

Which boggles my mind, since her older sister is a voracious reader and goes through books faster than I can supply them.  And not to worry, I take great care not to compare the two siblings.  Except in my head.  Because honest to goodness, those two are as different as any girls could ever be.  They share a room, and genes.  But that’s it.

I’ve been hoping that something will simply click and she’ll pick up a book and fall in love.  I have read out loud to the kids for years, and she enjoys that ritual.  We’ve gone through the entire Little House series, all of the Anne of Green Gables books, and are now reading through The Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe for our language studies.

I have heard from many moms of boys, regarding a lack of reading interest.  It is my hope that she’ll grow into a love of reading.  I can provide her with a lot of interesting reading material, but I can’t force her to enjoy reading.

Has anyone else dealt with this issue? Did it resolve on its own, or do I just need to resign myself that she may never take an interest in reading?  Or will I simply just need to keep reading the classics out loud to her until she’s 35?

A Reading Rainbow

I’m sure it hasn’t escaped your notice, but this is National Children’s Book Week(Okay, before this last week, I had never heard of it.) But I’m certainly glad to be on the bookmobile now!

Children’s Book Week was started way back in 1919.  It was considered a way to honor teachers, librarians, authors, and parents who all play a part in placing a book into a child’s hands.

“It all began with the idea that children’s books can change lives. In 1913, Franklin K. Matthiews, the librarian of the Boy Scouts of America, began touring the country to promote higher standards in children’s books. He proposed creating a Children’s Book Week, which would be supported by all interested groups: publishers, booksellers, and librarians.”

Also, BlogHer is celebrating all month long with a campaign called Books Make a Difference!  From May 3 to May 28th, BlogHer is teaming up with the nonprofit organization First Book and BookRenter.  And with your help, they will be donating a book that will be donated to a child in need.  Go here to see how you can help!

Every once in a while I come to you all for great book suggestions.  And because of you, I’ve amassed a wonderful list of reading material for my kids.  I still get e-mail asking for the link to the book list post, and in honor of National Children’s Book Week, I wanted to post the list again.

And btw, who else besides me misses seeing Reading Rainbow? I thought it was a brilliant PBS show that after 23 years on the air, was still relevant.  I’m still bitter about it being cancelled.  (But then I still haven’t recovered from the demise of Dark Shadows over 35 years ago, either.)  A grudge?  I can hold it.

The Book List

  • The Wheel on the School (I LOVED this one)
  • The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • The Ordinary Princess by M. M. Kaye
  • The Narnia series by C.S. Lewis (A must in every library)
  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein
  • The Dark is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper
  • The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
  • Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler
  • Boxcar Children series
  • Four Story Mistake
  • Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate Dicamillo
  • The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate Decamillo
  • Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard & Florence Atwater
  • Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls
  • Kildee House by Rutherford G. Montgomery and Barbara Cooney
  • Anne of Green Gables
  • Amelia Bedilia books
  • Owls in the Family
  • The Dragonling
  • The Sign of the Beaver
  • The Little House Series (we read these, and loved them)
  • Magic Tree House
  • Wishbone Series
  • Nancy Drew Mysteries (classic)
  • Anything by Beverly Cleary
  • Mrs. Piggle Wiggle series
  • American Girl series
  • Freddy the Pig series by Walter R. Brooks
  • Betsy series by Carolyn Haywood (I read these as a girl)
  • Charlotte’s Web
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  • Sarah Plain and Tall
  • Mr. Popper’s Penguins (this one is next on our list to read)
  • The Phantom Tollbooth

Happy reading!  And please feel free to add your own childhood reading suggestions!

Printed Words

“Oh, magic hour, when a child first knows she can read printed words!”
— A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, 1943

As our school year drew to a close, my Cailey still had not fully mastered reading.  And she most certainly had not developed a love of the written word.

She steadfastly stated that she couldn’t read.  But I knew that she could indeed read a lot more words than she was giving herself credit for.

And we kept plugging away.  I, by reading books aloud to her, and she, by diligently working through each lesson of “Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading.”

About 3 weeks ago, she announced that she wanted to read her “The Little Mermaid” book aloud to us.  This was the same bedraggled book that I bought at a garage sale nearly 20 years ago, when I was portraying Ariel at children’s parties in Los Angeles.  (And btw, long red luxurious hair only served to make me look more pasty.)

I was floored.  She never wanted to read aloud.  She plopped herself down on the couch, and began with page 1.  And continued, reading aloud as though she had been reading forever.  Even the big 4 dollar words.

Since I’m not really one to get emotional…(right…have you met me?) I kept my tears to myself until later.  For the next few nights, she continued reading “The Little Mermaid” until she finished.  I even caught her sitting quietly during the day reading through it.  I was so proud of her.

It baffles me how a child learns to read.  And I’m even more baffled now that I’ve successfully taught two of my children.  I don’t remember ever not being able to read.  It just seemed like one day, somewhere between spit balls and eating the finger paint, it just clicked with me.  And I’ve had a deep and abiding love of books ever since.

Emme learned with ABeka in Kindergarten, and caught on very quickly.  Today she devours books by the armload.  After plowing through all of the American Girl books, she has started on a new series, “Magic Attic Club”.

And NO, it’s not that kind of magic.

Cailey, like most things in life, preferred to take the long winding road to reading.  And I’ve been around enough homeschooled children and their moms to know that each child learns at their own pace.  Some are reading at 4.  Others at 10.  I have a very strongly held belief that it is important not to pressure or push a child into reading.

Slow and steady wins the race.

Just read aloud to them, and present them with books that will spark their interest.  With Cailey, I have been picking up all sorts of books about mermaids, make-believe fairies, and of course the requisite princesses.

Coincidentally, Mom’s Homeroom launched a new episode on the topic of Reading this week.  Go check it out here.

And I’ve had a few of you ask me how to get to the message boards (where I lurk as moderator and sandbox monitor) to share questions or parenting concerns.

I want to give you step by step instructions.  If you are new to message boards, it all looks very foreign the first time you visit.  It certainly did with me.

The first thing you see when you visit the site is the episode.  Then, at the top click on “Community.”  That takes you to a list of topics.  At the bottom of the screen click on “View All Discussions.”  That takes you right to the boards.  You can sign in at the bottom.  All you need is your e-mail address (which is never shaders don’t even get to see it) and a “handle.”  Or what you want to be called.

Off topic.  Did y’all ever have a CB radio in the 70’s and 80’s?  I had one in my truck.  My handle was Sugarfoot.  Good buddy.

Anyhoo.  Focus.

You can start a new discussion, or jump in on one that’s already established.  We have a really great one on children’s book lists.  You can see it here.

I love reading.  And I’m especially fond of the library.  I’d go more often if I could just keep Jensen from disrobing at the circulation desk.  I’m sure the other library patrons would appreciate it as well.

Now a quiz. For you homeschooling moms, what curriculum have you found to be most effective for teaching reading? I’m still happy with “Ordinary Parents Guide” and will probably use it with Jensen next year.  I also use the magnetic board and letters.  Plus lots and lots of reading aloud.

And now, because I’m 7, here is a short list of book titles, not to be missed.

Adding Up by Juan & Juan
The Chocolate Bar by Ken I Havesum
Telephone Problems by Ron Number
Aching Joints by Arthur Itis
I’m Not a Mutant by Abner Mallety
The Bedpan Patrol by B.M. Nightly
Drink this Before the X-Ray by Barry Um
and finally,
I Read You Like a Book by Claire Voyant

Happy reading!