Sunday, May 17, 2015

Book Marked

A few months back, near the start of the school year Arlo's third grade teacher mentioned what a strong reader he was during my parent conference and showed me how he had tested at the top of this class in all of the reading sections, which I was somewhat surprised to hear. Not because I doubted his ability but because it got me wondering why, if he did excel in that area, I really didn't see him reading much outside of if what was linked to his regular homework requirements.

And then it hit me, I had been making the mistake of assuming that an early love of reading would simply root itself if it were ever going to at all. I had enjoyed books around his age and picked them up on my own accord, but see now that that's not always the case. Expecting him to fall in love with it on his own felt like a lazy mistake on my part but at nine years old, I also knew it wasn't too late to fix.

I decided to give him a little push without making it seem like anything of the sort - so I used what I know motivates him best (at this age, anyway) Money. I told him I would give him 20$ if he read the entire first book of Harry Potter and could explain to me, in detail, the story's main characters and overall premise. He happily agreed and blew through the book in a week with ease. Laying awake every single night after his bath, tucked in bed ultimately falling asleep with the book on his chest. When he was finished the first he begged for the next in the series and two months later he is just beginning book four. Now he genuinely looks forward to the end of the night, to climbing in bed to pick up where he left off the night prior. I even caught him curled up in a corner recently reading during a movie he put on with a school friend here sleeping over. Needless to say, so far it's looking like the best 20 bucks I ever spent.

This weekend I made him a couple custom denim stitched bookmarks using fabric scraps, super thin plastic strips / cardboard hot glued with a little felt marker up top and sewn around the bottom edges. A really quick, easy project with all required tools I already had on hand. A cute way to keep his pages marked instead of the old dog eared tricks he's been relying on for weeks.

Thinking I'll whip up a couple extra, maybe slightly more colorful versions this evening in honor of "teacher's appreciation week" which starts to tomorrow. We have five days to fill, which means ten contribtuions and tomorrow's flower themed suggestion just might work pretty perfectly here.


  1. You are so amazingly creative and so great at utilizing the things you have on hand! And so very thoughtful. Super inspired here! :)

  2. How cute, that's a great little project that's useful too.

    As for getting kids to read, there's nothing wrong with using a little bribery to get things going. I believe the strongest desire of wanting to read comes from finding excitement in what you're reading though.

    I can remember being sluggish about reading as a kid between 7 and 11. Thinking I should read what my friends were such as The Babysitter's Club or Sweet Valley High books. But really they were a bore to me. I did find the choose your own adventures to be pretty fun to read. But it wasn't until I was a teen and started getting into Beat reading that I realized I actually loved reading.

    I'm always on the lookout for books that I think spark my boys' interests. With my oldest we tried Harry Potter earlier this year (at the beginning of 2nd grade) and I think it was a little over his head. But recently he's started loving the Geronimo Stilton Series. So I'm happy he's found something he likes. We've also read most of Roald Dahl's books and he loved those too.

  3. When my son was in grade school (many years back - he's 26 now!) it was all about the Accelerated Reading Program - basically, it was competitive reading. My son balked immediately. Finally, I just told his teacher that this program was going to end up turning my kid off from reading...and astoundingly/thankfully she agreed. We knew he could read, he could read really well. So we ditched the program and I started buying him books and magazines I knew he could get into - skateboard and bike mags, etc.. He devoured these and told me all sorts of tales. Later on, in middle school, he was balking at a overdue book report - I pulled "The Outsiders" from our own bookshelf and gave it to him...he could not put it down and ended up writing a amazing book report....only to get a wasn't on the schools reading list. I complained on that one. At the end of the day, he loves to read, that is what matters. Thanks!

  4. What a great idea (okay, ideas — both the embroidered bookmarks and the incentive to get the reading bug started at home)!

    Milo barely communicates with the outside world lately because he's so engrossed in books (not really, but it's close), but I think I'm going to have to give Oliver a bit more of a push. It's a good reminder that it doesn't always happen on its own. Congrats to Arlo for catching the reading bug (and being very good at it)! It is amazing what the exposure to new vocabulary does. So awesome!