Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Book Negotiation

About two years ago, when my son was in sixth grade, his teachers were constantly telling me that he was not completing his book reports. I was absolutely blown away. I knew he could read, and he always read well. He was in the GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) program and scored very high on his tests. But for some reason, he was totally just ignoring the book reports, which happened to be a large chunk of his grades.

I took it upon my self to try to figure out why my smart little kid would not pick up a book and read, especially since I have always been such a voracious reader. As it turns out, the problem was not his ability to read, but it was a lack of interest in the books that were available!

I tried some comic books, Zane Grey novels, S.E. Hinton, Stephen Lawhead, etc. No interest at all. I figured I needed to try a different approach. Instead of trying to get him to read what I had already read over the years, I took a trip to the local Barnes and Noble and asked one of the staff members for a bit of help on books for teens.

The young lady at B&N recommended James Patterson's series Maximum Ride. So I checked it out. It turns out to be an interesting series about genetically modified kids on the lam from a bunch of whack job scientists. I wondered if my 11 year old could handle it. I figured the wort thing that could happen was I'd be out a few bucks for the book, so off to the check out I went.

When I got home, I spent some time working on my son to try to get him engaged in the book. As he started reading each chapter, he kept coming and talking to me about the book. Unfortunately, I had not read it, so I had no idea what he was talking about. I decided I needed to be ahead of the game so I could not look like an idiot when he came to talk to me about the book.

I sent my son to bed for the night, grabbed the book, and read the entire thing in a single sitting. It was a very fast read and was done about the time I planned to go to bed.

The next night, I found myself in an interesting position... When my son came to talk to me about the book, I realized that he had only read a few pages before coming out to talk about it. He was scamming me, thinking that since I had no knowledge of the book the day before, he could tall me any thing about it and I would have to believe what he said. Let me tell you, the look on his face when I told him "Just wait till xxx learns about her mother in the next chapter..." was priceless! I then told him he needed to keep reading, and gave him a deadline to finish the book.

I couldn't believe it... he read like a maniac. And each night, we talked about it a little bit. And this was the beginning... I know had a bargaining chip. I promised to read every book he did. Now he has accumulated quite a library of teen novels that we are continually adding to. His reading level is grade 11, and he is only in 7th grade. Definitely worth my time to invest in his reading.

I'll post the different series we have been reading in another post. Maybe this will help you and your children with their reading adventures!

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