November 8, 2010

The Reader

I'm a big reader. This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone since I review a book (sometimes two) a week. I tend to read about 100 books a year and when I don't have a book in front of me, chances are I'm reading something else - a magazine, the back of a cereal box, the label on my beer bottle. I just love to read. What I'm finding out is that Mia is the exact same way.

Over the summer, we worked on reading with Mia and she picked it up in her own pace. But since the start of kindergarten, we've gone from zero to sixty in about .05 seconds. Her pace is amazing and her mastery over what should be difficult words is amazing. She's blown through the kindergarten curriculum and moved on to first grade without any issue. And we're not pushing. We can't pry books from her hands. She's exhausted in the mornings because she's managed to stay up late reading books into the night. And it's hard to get her to stop because as parents we should be encouraging this behavior. Also, it's not, you know, cocaine or something destructive.

What's funny is that Mia doesn't in any way think or understand the fact that this is remarkable, and also an accomplishment of which she should be insanely proud. So on Saturday we threw a day-long reading party for her.

We woke up early - because though she reads late into the night she is apparently unable to translate this into the need to sleep in. We hung out for a little while, played the recently neglected Wii then I took her out to pick any movie she wanted to own and eat at The Chip Restaurant (aka Chipotle). Then we bought cookies and ran through the car wash which she loves. When we got home, Beth whisked her off to go ice skating - something she's been wanting to do for a while - and get her nails painted. Then we cooked her favorite dinner, made ice cream sundaes and watched the movie she'd chosen (Barbie's 12 Dancing Princesses, a cinematic masterpiece of you want to know my sarcastic opinion). And then she went to bed and read for an hour. Which might have been her favorite part of the day.

It's amazing to watch kids learn. More amazing when you see them learn this amazing skill that truly forms the very foundation for moving forward in their lives. The fact that she's scary-good at it makes it that much more shocking.

What are your reading habits like? And is there any relationship between your reading habits now and the habits you developed as a kid?

Posted by Chris at November 8, 2010 6:36 AM

I don't read nearly as much as I used to, not novels anyway. (I read news and stuff like that. But novels, not so much.)

Posted by: Na at November 8, 2010 7:30 AM

I remember when reading clicked... my parents always read me a bed time story if I"d been good. Once I started reading on my own, there was no holding me back. Though Bram Stoker's Dracula at 7 years old might have been just a little too much.

Kudos to Mia and good luck!

Posted by: Hannah at November 8, 2010 7:43 AM

I don't necessarily remember my parents reading to me, but they must have because I was reading very early. But I have always been a big reader, and I am sure that it's because my parents both were never without a book to read.

Posted by: donna at November 8, 2010 8:11 AM

I started reading early and haven't stopped since. I was always way ahead of my peers and I'm pretty sure it's because my parents encouraged me to read anything and everything. I used to get in trouble in school for reading when I was supposed to be paying attention to the teachers. Elliot is the same way. It took us a while to convince him it was worth it, but now he always has a book in his hands. Charlotte (the same age as Mia) is shaping up to be the same way. And I'm very proud of them!!

Posted by: Elizabeth at November 8, 2010 8:38 AM

My son, who is now 14, read 4 Harry Potter books on his own by age 7. He read my copy of animal farm from high school. Hard to find things to keep his interest. Kudos to Mia!

Posted by: at November 8, 2010 8:41 AM

No. Well, I love to read and I always have, but after my eye surgeries I couldn't see to read the small print. Being a stubborn woman of German extraction, I did not go to the Library and check out the Large Print books until I was forced to, due to extreme desire.
Well, that was wonderful! Now I am saving for a Nook or Kindle!

Posted by: Maribeth at November 8, 2010 8:46 AM

I learned to read when I was three and ... I guess I just never stopped. Your reading puts me to shame, but I am reading a lot more than I used to. (After college I was burnt out for a bit.) Like Mia, I used to stay up way later than I should've been, telling myself, "Just one more chapter." Good times. (Although my eyesight did suffer a bit.)

Posted by: Fraulein N at November 8, 2010 9:09 AM

I am regularly shamed by the stacks of reading that dot my house. I get the weekend NY Times delivered (Friday, Saturday, Sunday), The New Yorker every week, and oh, God, the books. The books! And the only real opportunity I get to read the books, specifically, is in bed at night and we all know how that usually works (a few pages, then *snore*). So, I have too much to read. The only way I can see myself catching up is to take a week off and tie myself to a chair with an intravenous feeding tube.

Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' at November 8, 2010 9:11 AM

My son was reading before age 4. It became a real challenge to keep age appropriate material around since age appropriate was often years below his ability. Now, as a teenager, he knocks off 2 - 4 books a week, a mix of sci-fi and thick, mind numbingly (IMO) detailed history books. His room is completely overtaken by books. We visit a used book store frequently. I always trade a few in to fund what I buy. He absolutely refuses to part with any book that he owns.

My 14 year old daughter reads college equine veterinary texts for fun.

Some of my first memories of life are of my mom reading to me. However, about all the reading I am able to fit into my life these days in 30 minutes or so before I go to sleep.

Posted by: COD at November 8, 2010 9:25 AM

My daughter also learned to read with lightning speed and seemingly very little help or "teaching" from us. She just "got it", very much like myself as a child. It's fantastic to see her read and to see her read to her little brother...well that's just amazing! However, now I'm getting to the point where my 4 year old son is starting to learn sounds and put them together and I'm realizing that I've been spoiled. I have no idea if he will pick it up as easily as she did. Maybe he will? But I'm a little scared he won't. I don't want to compare him to her as she picked it up early and fast but it sure would be nice if it would come as easily to him and if he could also develop a love of reading that is valued so much in our household. Really having to try and accept that each kid is different and that if it takes him longer then that is OK and it doesn't mean he will be illiterate. :) (I know, putting the cart before the horse and all that!)

Posted by: Shannon at November 8, 2010 9:37 AM

Make sure Mia doesn't blow past the age-appropriate books. I read Shakespeare when I should have been reading the Oz books, so I went back and read the Oz books in Junior high. So not cool.

Posted by: TheQueen at November 8, 2010 10:00 AM

I am an avid dabbler in reading, as I find it near impossible to finish a book ( but I do love me the first few chapters ). My oldest daughter loves to read, and looks like my son may be on the same track.

When I was little my dad read to me every night, but he would read things like the Iliad and the Odyssey, as well as a few action books that could probably be considered pulp, but were still exciting. I also remember him reading "A Night to Remember" about the Titanic, which spawned a life long love with the story. I'm ashamed to say I have not kept up the tradition with my own kids, which I think is high on the "things to change about myself" list.

Posted by: metawizard at November 8, 2010 10:34 AM

I was reading by the time I was four. By age six I had read most of my mother's science fiction books. The one that sticks out most in my head was Farhenheit 451, I'm not claiming that I understood all of it, but it made a real impression on me. Reading is like breathing to me, I get nervous if I don't have a few stacks of books waiting to be read. I'm kind of sad that out of my four kids only one has turned into a real reader. But it's great to have at least one to drag along to the bookstore.

Posted by: Michelle at November 8, 2010 10:34 AM

I grew up without a TV, so reading was my only option. I stopped reading as much for pleasure in high school when I started taking college English courses, and then adult life seemed to get in the way. However, when the opportunity presents (I worked part-time at a library for a while), I'm voracious.

Currently I find myself going in phases, switching reading up with another one of my hobbies (knitting) as my obsessive activity for the week. But I'm always grateful for that strong reading background and ironically, once again, don't have a TV in my house.

Posted by: Heather at November 8, 2010 10:40 AM

I love reading. I usually read about about 4 books a week. Sometimes more, depending on the content. I have been this way since I was a kid. I will read nearly any genre (except horror, I'm a huge sissy). My mom is the same way. It's nothing for us to have our nose buried in a book for hours at a time. My nearly 10 year old daughter? Not so much. You'd think that her growing up watching me read, and encouraging it, that she'd be in to it too. I have to practically bribe her to read 15 minutes a day (a requirement for 4th grade), she absolutely hates it.

Posted by: js at November 8, 2010 10:43 AM

I saw "Reading Party" and thought you were going to take her to the library. I kept waiting and waiting....

I don't read much anymore, probably from law school, honestly. But before then, I DEVOURED. As a three year old, I could pretty much read the paper out loud without a problem, and I was chosen to do a lot of public reading gigs for schools, etc., to show off the schools' progress in education. I think it's why I have no issues with public speaking.

Posted by: alektra at November 8, 2010 11:08 AM

I love that you threw her a reading party - too cute. I read a lot as a kid, though I don't remember where I was at, Kindergarten-ish. I'll have to ask my Mum. Anyway, I read a lot now, too, though most of it is just easy reading, like serial killer books and romances. (What? Those totally go together!)

Posted by: Heather at November 8, 2010 11:22 AM

I love to read and always have. In kindergarden, I was in my own reading group (I was a chipmunk) because I read better than the other kids in my class. I have three girls now, a 7 year old who loves to read (Frannie K Stein is her favorite book series) and a 5 year old who all of the sudden figured out how this whole reading thing works. She has been reading all week, and more than once came RUNNING to find me to tell me what her book said. So exciting!

I have found lately that I get most of my reading suggestions from you. We have similar tastes, and I usually put books that you've read on hold at the library right after I read your posts. So, thanks for that! I tend to get stuck in a rut if I don't have help, so I appreciate your reviews!!

Posted by: Kim at November 8, 2010 11:39 AM

Because English is my second language, I read a lot more slowly than I would like to. While you can go through a book a week, it'll take me 2 weeks. Back in my brains somewhere I'm still translating, I guess. Also exceedingly difficult for me to learn Italian currently. Learning a 3rd language on your second one is hard, man. Anyway.

I set a goal to read 1 book a month every year. However, a new goal this year to not leave a subscribed magazine go unread interferes with that a little bit since I subscribe to 4 magazines. That and my die hard TV habit doesn't help either.

Posted by: oakley at November 8, 2010 11:40 AM

I read voraciously, like you. I get several magazines and I read those over breakfast, and lunch if I can. At night I read books. Right now I'm reading "The Seven Pillars of Wisdom" by T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia). I don't think I read 100 books a year, but I used to really plow through stuff when I had more free time. Our first order of business upon arriving at a vacation destination when I was a kid was to find a book store, because on the way, I'd read all the books my folks had bought for me to read on the trip. :-)

Posted by: Brooke Habecker at November 8, 2010 12:17 PM

I too read early and still read a lot! I was also one of the kids who got in trouble for reading when I wasn't supposed to be reading, though it was usually because I had read the whole textbook with a month or so... Actually had a teacher's aide in kindergarten take a book away from me during free time - I was reading it to other kids - saying that "we don't read until first grade". My parents put a fast stop to that!

Posted by: Sue R at November 8, 2010 12:45 PM

My parents confessed that they didn't read to me as a small child. My grandma read me book after book after book whenever she visited. Despite not being read to on a nightly/weekly basis, I was reading before I started kindergarten. My parents credit Captain Kangaroo's (later Bill Cosby's) Picture Pages and Sesame Street. And - I lived walking distance (I was allowed to ride my bike there with my friend at the age of 7) from the library, and I LOVED the library.

Now, I am a voracious reader. I read to my boys almost every night. My oldest son is a voracious reader - and he reads like I do. My youngest son will occasionally stumble on a book he really likes, but, he doesn't really enjoy it. Like you, my oldest and I read EVERYTHING - all of the time. The thought never even occurs to my youngest.

Posted by: Mindy at November 8, 2010 12:52 PM

I was very much like Mia, I learned the summer before I started school and then there was no stopping me, the teacher didn't really know what to do with me. The feeling you have when you learn to read is one that you can never really experience again is it?

I do still read, not as much as I did when I was a kid, and I'm not really into it much at the moment, which just feels wrong, but it would be more wrong to make myself do it.

My 10 year old stepbrother reads loads too, one of my favourite photos from our wedding is him curled up in a corner reading, we got married in a hall with a small library and he was disappointed he couldn't take the books home.

Posted by: Katherine at November 8, 2010 2:22 PM

My grandpa taught me how to read. I had to read one headline, then all of the headlines and then one short article on the front page of the newspaper before I got to watch Scooby-Doo!

I have to read before I go to sleep or else I have a hard time falling asleep. I also have a chronic disease which causes me to spend an unholy amount of time in the bathroom which means I have read some odd things in the bathroom such as: the backs of cleaning product bottles, hunting magazines, popular mechanics, chemical engineering industry magazine, boyscout magazines, etc. I can tell a lot about a person by what magazines they keep in the bathroom:-)

I also wanted to tell my forty year old uncle that he was wrong about President Ford's tax cut proposal when I was 3 years old. I knew he was wrong because I had to read the article about it at my grandpa's house:-)

Posted by: Dee at November 8, 2010 5:04 PM

My dream home is a bookstore. I lovelovelove to read, and am regularly reading a few books at a time. My house has little piles of books all over it, and I could spend a small fourtune on bookshelves. Some people drink, drug, gamble or whatever to escape, but I read. My olest daughter (now 17) started kindergarten reading at a third grade level. To my horror, my son (now 9) did not love to read as a little guy and *gasp was delayed as a reader. I got him a subscription to Ranger Rick magazine, and he ran to the mailbox every month. Once he started reading, not only did he catch up fast but, he surpassed all his classmates and is the top reader in his class.

Posted by: Stephanie at November 8, 2010 8:25 PM

It's so awesome that Mia is reading!

I love to read and I always have, although I don't read as much now as I used to. I guess I read a couple of books a month. It varies depending on how good the books are, how busy I am at work, and how much time I waste on the Internet! A friend of mine started a book club back in January and I'm really enjoying it. We get together every 6 weeks to discuss whatever book the host for that gathering has selected. The best part is that some of the books are ones I would normally not read but they were really good. (Meanwhile, I'm hosting in January and I'm having trouble choosing - I don't want to choose the wrong thing and break book club!)

My family used to tease me about how much I read. One summer when I was a kid the library closed for 2 weeks for maintenance. I borrowed so many books to hold me over that the librarian had to get me a couple of shopping bags to load them into so I could get them home. (There were hardly any kids in my neighborhood, so I had a lot of hours to fill during the summer.)

Now I have a great time buying books for my nieces and nephews. They have come to expect a book with every birthday and Christmas present (in addition to their actual gift), and a book instead of candy at Halloween. I've also been known to stop by with a book if I'm in the bookstore and see something I think they'll like. And when my 8-year-old niece wanted a little extra cash for her school's book fair a couple of weeks ago guess who got a call explaining that she really needed something to read and "I guess I can use my tooth fairy money..." Yeah, that's all it took for me to cough up some cash!

Posted by: erin at November 8, 2010 11:50 PM

Love to read. Always have. My dad is a writer and an avid reader so I must have gotten it from him. I too am always reading something including the back of the shampoo bottle in the shower.

Sadly, my kids are not readers. But it is nice to always see a guitar in my son's arms. He's really good. Not that I'm biased or anything.

Posted by: Meemo at November 9, 2010 1:53 AM

I have always loved reading. I remember that I really struggled with it at first but then at some point it just 'clicked' for me and ever since I will read anything I can get my hands on. Food lables, cereal boxes, magazines, books, leaflets, online articles - you name it I read it. When it comes to books though I prefer to own the book rather than take it out from a library. When I was a teenager, I had so many books my parents often joked that I could start my own bookstore! Sadly I had to get rid of almost all of my books when we moved due to a severe shortage of storage space; so I have only kept my absolute favourites. I also don't get nearly as much time to read as I used to, which is sad, but hubby knows buying me a book as a gift is a sure-fire win. I tend to take a book with me everywhere I go on the off chance I get a few minutes to read a couple of pages.

Posted by: Delia at November 9, 2010 1:59 AM

I was the same way when I was her age - I'd read anythign and everything I could get my hands on. I remember when I was in 1st and 2nd grade, my parents talked my teachers into letting me go into the 3rd-5th grade section of the library during our library time, because I'd already read my way through the 1st-2nd grade books (and they were no longer holding my attention).

I read less than I'd like to these days - right now it's because I don't have as much time, but before I was back in school it was because I was spending my reading time watching TV or farting around on the internets. I hope my kids are readers, though, because I really don't think there's anything better for a kid when they're growing up than to read everything they can. It gets their imagination going and improves their writing skills and vocabulary.

Reading rocks. I'm so glad Mia is into it and I can't even imagine how awesome that must be for you to see her grow up and learn and keep it going.

Posted by: Dawn at November 9, 2010 10:09 AM

I don't remember learning to read because I was around 3. Both of my parents are readers, so I grew up surrounded by books. By second grade I was reading at a college level, which was very frustrating for me because it was hard to find age-appropriate books at my reading level and being forced to participate in group reading in class was soooo boring.

I read an average of 2 books a week, though before I had my son I'd average 1 a day. My son just turned one but already he has a huge collection of books. I really hope he'll enjoy reading as much as I do.

Posted by: Leah at November 9, 2010 10:51 AM