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The Three R’s – Reading (Part 2)

The Three R's - Reading (Part 2)

Have you ever met a high school graduate who says, “I will NEVER crack a book again as long as I live!!”? If you have, and if you query them, you will discover (as I did) that for them, reading was an imposed chore, brain-numbingly difficult, utterly boring, and a senseless struggle. For them, there was no delight in a book, no wonder, no adventure, no sense of a wondrous world of words opening magically like Aladdin’s mysterious treasure cave.

Hmmm. That’s the LAST thing we want, right? But how do we ensure this does not happen?

The old adage is that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink. Modifying that slightly, you can push children through various phonics and reading programs, but that won’t give them a love for reading. . . And if they don’t love to read, then all the phonics and decoding in the world will be almost as worthless as yesterday’s peanut butter sandwich left overnight on the counter. You could eat it if it was a matter of survival, but you wouldn’t want to!

I’m glad that someone shared this concept with me before my second child was old enough to read, because it made a HUGE difference in how we handled his struggle in learning to read.

Mike was an active, very active, never-sit-still, bright-eyed, curious, and delightful boy. I was astonished at his energy level, at the fearlessness he showed in climbing trees, at his constant need to move-move-move. He was so interested in everything, I never dreamed he would struggle to learn to read. But, at that time in my life, I knew so little about how kids actually learn—and I knew nothing about different kinds of learners, eight intelligences, etc. All I had in my mind was the model of school. And, of course, at school, kids to learn to read when they are six. Right??

Wrong. Some kids do, others don’t.

Mike didn’t. Fortunately, however, the big picture of having our children love reading was firmly in our hearts and minds. My dear husband, Bill, read stories to our kids every night, and I read poetry (humorous, adventurous, rhyming, delightful) after dinner. We read books of adventure, books of Christian heroes, funny books, fascinating books. . . And Mike loved the stories. Even though he could not read them for himself, he knew there was good stuff in those books.

That made all the difference. Because he had a reason for persevering, he (and I) kept at it, working little by little on phonics, on fluency in reading. When he was ten, he got it. And from that moment, he began to read everything in sight!Within a few months, he was reading Bring ‘Em Back Alive by Frank Buck (a collector of wild animals). Within a year, he was reading Silmarillion by J.R.R Tolkien—a book I could never make it through!

If you have a struggling reader, I encourage you to get Ruth Beechick’s, The Three R’s. If you believe you may be dealing with learning disabilities, check out Christine Field’s book, Homeschooling the Challenging Child.

But, most of all, read to your kids! Give them a love for reading—it will be the best gift of all.

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