Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Finished, Finally!!!

Here it is - 3 a.m. and I'm just now getting around to doing my post that should have been done before midnight but I had other things, pressing things, I had to take care of, had to finish. And I did that.

I finished reading the book I started about a week or so ago and tonight, I just couldn't put it down. I had to keep going until I got to the end of the story. And, what a story it was too! Indeed!

Reading for me has always been probably the thing I love to do the most. My Grandfather is to blame for this trait in me. He introduced me to books when I was just a toddler - read those little children's "Golden Books" to me and by the time I was about four years old, I was reading them on my own. And although there are a kazillion books - some or actually many of them classics - that I haven't read, I've loved to read just about anything I could put my hands on it seemed.

When my older daughter started school, reading was not her best subject. By the time she was in second grade, both my ex-husband and I were having issues about her reading skills and the difficulty she was encountering. Because she didn't bring her reader home, when her grades kept dropping and dropping, we both told her to bring the reader home and her Dad and I would work with her to improve her reading ability. But she told us she wasn't allowed to do that and I admit, I went a bit ballistic and called the school, spoke to the elementary principal about this and was astonished at his answer.

He informed me that it was true - they didn't allow the kids to take their reading books home because - are you ready for this now - two reasons - one, they didn't have enough books to go around and two, if the kids took their readers home they found the kids tended then to "read ahead." Gee, go figure! And that was a bad thing? How times - and education - changed from when I was in grade school to the early-to-mid-seventies when the educators had then decided that reading ahead was not something to be endorsed.

Shortly after learning this, I encountered the lady who had been my second and third grade teacher one day at the post office here in town and I told her what the gem of a principal at the school had told me. I quipped to her that I don't remember any teacher of mine ever cracking my fingers or being upset in any way, shape or form over any of my classmates or me for reading ahead. She told me that she and other teachers of that era were always very happy if/when students did read ahead and made an effort to read ANYTHING! She also reminded me then that I had been the only student she had ever had in all her years of teaching who had brought the "Reader's Digest" to school and was actually able to read it too!

That school year, I fought over and over with the teachers, the administrators about my daughter's reading problems - to no avail. Oh, they did have her hearing tested to make sure there was no problem there and they also brought in a psychologist to talk to me daughter and then to me to give me the "results" of his tests he ran on my daughter. His determination was that I was the problem and I was expecting my daughter to be as interested in books and reading as I had been and also, that she would be as capable of reading at that age as I had been.

I was livid! That wasn't my thought there at all! All I wanted was for her to be ABLE to read because if she couldn't read properly, it would make all other courses she studied in school that much more difficult for her too. The school finally decided at the end of that school year that she was eligible for a special reading program that would help her to become a better reader and I was probably one of the first parents who signed their kid up for that summer program. And yes, she did learn a lot of things through it - how to "read" a thermometer, various other little things along with enabling her to go on special jaunts to East Broadtop Railroad and a trip to Pittsburgh to the Zoo - nice things for a 7-year-old to be able to partake of but yet, although the course was supposed to be "Remedial Reading" there was very little of that aspect going on there!

Towards the end of that course, I had stopped by my Aunt's house to visit a bit and was telling her of my problems at the school and my daughter's reading issues. My aunt taught school - second grade as a matter of fact - and she said she happened to have a second grade reader there and would sit with my daughter and have her read for her to see if she could put a finger on what was wrong there. A short time later, she came to me and told me my daughter had never been taught phonics and thus, could not sound a word out. She said if I wanted, I could bring my daughter up to her house two or three times a week for the rest of the summer and she would tutor her then in reading and try to get her on track. And, that is what we did. By the time my daughter entered third grade, she was reading labels on the shelves in the stores, packages, books that had been given to her, magazines I had - she was doing really great.

And then, she went back to school and at the end of the first grading period, one of her teachers told me in a parent-teacher conference that apparently the Remedial Reading course that summer had really helped my daughter and also, the fact that they had switched teachers on her too - the teacher she'd had for math in 2nd grade was now her reading teacher and the reading teacher the year before was now her math instructor and that change too had apparently made a very big difference. I never even mentioned to her that my aunt had spent six weeks tutoring the kid!

But over the winter months, because the school was not pushing the reading as my aunt had done, my daughter's skill level and also, her interest in books and reading, etc, waned and didn't return until she was in 5th grade when the teacher she had that year really pushed reading for the kids. By that time though, a lot of damage had been done and my daughter regarded herself then as a poor reader and also a poor student and it was a long time before she realized what a great tool books really are - and also, how enjoyable it is to pick up a book and read.

Today, she very much enjoys books but she still labors over them. Her son though has been fortunate enough to have teachers who really instilled good reading habits and pushed that subject as one of very high importance so now, he is rapidly becoming an avid reader. He and I have a little pact too. I told him last year that I will not buy him toys for his birthday or Christmas presents and I won't buy him clothes either because I don't know his tastes that well in colors and styles, but I will buy him books! And he was very agreeable to that idea. He provided me with a list of books and favorite authors I could choose from to select his Christmas gifts this past year and he's willing to tell his mother too which books he hasn't read and would like to receive too from me. It's a deal that definitely makes both of us very happy!

And, in case you're interested in what book it was that I couldn't put down tonight until I had completed it - "Second Glances" by Jodi Picoult! She has rapidly become one of my daughter's and my favorites as I've now read four of her books and Mandy, my younger daughter, has seven of her books now too. (Mom got her two of her books for Christmas and two more for her birthday two weeks ago. Nice gift because then I get to benefit from that too!)

So - now that you know why I am so late in posting this piece and so you don't miss out on my other routine I want to do each day here, I'll close with the Bushisms for Monday, February 19th and then for today, Tuesday, February 20th too!

"It is clear our nation is reliant upon big foreign oil. More and more of our imports come from overseas." - Beaverton, Oregon; September 25, 2000.


"I want to thank the astronauts who are with us, the courageous spacial entrepreneurs who set such a wonderful example for the young of our country." - Washington, D.C.; January 14, 2004

Nite now!


Claire said...

I love reading and read every night before i go to sleep. I take after my mum. But my two sisters suffer with dyslexia and where treated appallingly in school. It is only now at the ages of 26 and 23 that they are really starting to enjoy reading, although it still is a bit of a chore.

TomCat said...

I also love reading. Schools seem to be going down hill. A local high school uses the same Geometry book for Juniors that I used as a child in the 7th grade.

I added you to my "Blogs I Like" blog roll. :-)

East of Oregon said...

Reading is my favorite hobby, right behind sleeping. Really, I do love to read - it's a terrific trait I say! take care:)

Smalltown RN said...

I only started to enjoy reading in my 30's. I think that had more to do with my dyslexia than anything else. But once I caught on...and found what I liked...I started to read. My sister Eileen seemed to know what I liked and I have read some wonderful books because of her. A book for me though has to catch me right at the beginning. Or at least the first chapter if it doesn't I generally don't finish it or it takes me for ever to finish it.

My middle daugher is an avid reader...and I have passed on books I have enjoyed and she is always appreciative...reading is good for the soul.

Cheers my friend

Debo Blue said...

I've always had a strong appetite for reading. My mother says I was reading in kindergarten, which helped put in those 'smart kids' classes.

I currently subscribe to about 10 magazines and two daily newspapers that I used to have time to read until I became hooked on blogging.