Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Reading for pleasure

Eldest daughter (6) has had a bit of a downer on herself lately when it comes to reading. "I hate reading," she says. "I'm rubbish at it. And it's really BORING."

I can't help wondering how much this has to do with me writing children's books for a living (people say to her all the time, "Oh, you must love reading your mum's books!") and how much it's to do with the fact that son (4) has been reading since he was 3 years old and (sssshhh) is actually slightly a better reader than she is (not that I ever let slip that I think that, of course). He does this annoying thing of leaning over her shoulder while she's reading to me and correcting her when she slips up, which I think would piss anybody off, but the fact that he's younger must be a real stinger to her. Obviously I try to make time for her to read to me when he's not around but that's not always possible.

But this weekend she seems to have seen the light. I came back from London to find that she'd read three Rainbow Magic books on her own and since then is whipping through them at a rate of knots. In fact, she's feeling so much more confident, she was eyeing up our book collection last night. "I think these children's books are a bit babyish for me now," she said, dismissing the rest of her story books. She pulled out Return of the Native from the shelf above instead. "Do you think I'd like this one?"

"Well," I said, "I'm sure you will when you're older, but..."

She flipped it open to the introduction and started reading. "Thomas Hardy was born in... See? I can read it!"

"Well done," I said. "So you can."

I am so happy that she has decided she likes books. And I think she's happy too.


Jane Henry said...

She's six isn't she? I think that (in my experience) is often the age when they suddenly get it. Don't worry about whether you writing has put her off, I just think kids develop at different times (which is why I get very cross with this one size fits all, all children aged x should be reading Dickens by now approach).

My oldest taught herself to read and could read fluently at 4 when she started school (NOTHING to do with me, she did it all herself). No 2 was a nightmare, and used to throw the books on the floor and shout alot. But, thanks mainly to you - she got it literally on her sixth birthday when she found her first Rainbow fairies book. Interestingly I still think she values reading more then her big sister who takes it all for granted.
No 3 is flying along with Rainbow Fairies too (thanks so much!) and no 4 - who is just five so older then your son - is getting there very slowly. I'm not even convinced she can read, I think she may be just parroting what she's learnt!

I think they all get there in the end, and if there are books in the house they are more likely too.

The school thing your end sounds a nightmare. How very disingenous to say its to help the poorer families when it isn't at all...

love janex

liz fenwick said...

I am so happy for her. We had the same problem in our house with son1 and son2. Son2 has read fluenty from three and son1 is dyslexic and still still struggles at 14 but now he does read for pleasure and isn't fussed that his younger brother reads better than him. He is now working his way through son2's book collection slowly. As Jane says they do it at their own pace and if there are books in the house it makes it easier.

Julia Buckley said...

Lovely post. Glad to hear she's reading again.

I used to find that pinching worked very well for keeping younger brothers in check. Or Chinese burns when very annoyed. You'd probably better not pass that on though.

Lucy Diamond said...

Pinching - yes, she's already sussed that. Not sure if she's onto Chinese burns yet...

The school fiasco rumbles on here - partner may be appearing on Newsnight tonight to rant about it!

Debi said...

Hi Lucy/Sue - I've come to you via the BWBD forum. Glad I have too! I'm about to link to you - assume that's ok?

Re kids reading - my eldest son (11) is also dyslexic and it breaks my heart that reading is such a chore for him. He starts a book with enthusiasm but rarely finishes.

Youngest is 9 and reads with ease - but not pleasure! I hope the other commenters are right and that they'll both get there in the end.

By the way, we have a close connection with Brighton and my 2nd book was partly set there. If we ever manage to move it will be there, so I'm glad you've decided to stay put for the time!

Lucy Diamond said...

Hello Debi,

Ooh, I will check out your Brighton-based book - it's always nice to read about places where you live. Sadly, we are almost definitely going to move - not to Cheltenham any more but probably Bath. Nearer the families and beautiful part of the world etc but it will break my heart to leave lovely Brighton. We are going to look at a house on Saturday, despite eldest daughter's threats not to come with us if we move. Sigh. You can't please all the people all of the time, as they say. I will have to buy her some Thomas Hardy to bribe her!

Cheers for the link, anyway - of course it's okay!