My 6-year-old son is a very good reader. He began reading at a very young age, and I feel very lucky that he loves reading as much as he does. Last year I wrote a blog post asking for book recommendations to help me start reading chapter books with him. I knew that he had the skills to take that leap, and I was excited to move to that phase of his reading life.
We tried one of the recommendations that I received last spring and it was a big fat flop. He had no interest reading the book by himself or with me. We tried another chapter book and had similar results. I decided not to push things. My son was reading all the time and he was loving what he was reading. I was not about to make reading a chore for my then 5-year-old.
Over the course of the next 12 months my son has read hundreds of books: picture books, graphic novels, informational, poetry, etc. What he had not read was a chapter book.
I was never worried about my son not reading chapter books, and I don’t think that it hurt him as a reader not reading them. Just because a reader can read something doesn’t mean that they should be forced to read text.
Last week my wife and my son started reading the first Magic Tree House book, Dinosaurs Before Dark. My son was mesmerized. He kept asking for us to read, “One more chapter.”
I was lucky enough to be able to read the end of the book with him. I’ll never forget how he shook with fear as the T-Rex approached Jack, or how his eyes filled with tears with Jack and Annie made it home safely. Over the course of the last handful of days we have made it through two Magic Tree House books, and I’m thinking that next week on spring break we’ll read a bunch more.
As I reflect on the last year of my son’s reading life, I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if I would have forced my son to read chapter books before we was “ready”. I guess I’ll never know, but what I do know is that my happy little reader is right where he needs to be.
I’m about to start my last day of school before spring break. I can’t wait to spend the day talking about books with my fourth graders. On more than one occasion today I’ll be talking with a student reading a graphic novel or a picture book, that could be reading a middle grade novel, that some may feel is more challenging. My job today is to value the choices of my young readers and find something in that text that I can use to help them grow as a reader.
Today is going to be awesome.