Sunday, December 11, 2011

We Read.


It’s just what we do.

My mom and dad read. My sisters read. My husband reads.

Lola falls asleep with a book in her hands while we snuggle at bedtime. Every time.

My boys read.

Yes, I have boys who read.

They fight. They wrestle. They are so. very. loud. They jump off the bunk beds. They play computer games. They watch (sometimes brainless) television. They are social (understatement alert). They ride bikes. They swim. Their bodies are in constant motion. Their mouths are in constant motion. (I have three of the talking-est boys you will ever meet.)

And they read. A lot.

Sometimes I imagine a little conversation going on in heaven. It is one where God is planning all the ways in which the blessing-boys He chose for me will break stretch and challenge and teach and refine me. And then He decides to give me a… reward, if you will, and make them all readers in addition to their other, uh, qualities.

The reading thing—it is my sanity. It is wonderful to be able to sit the boys down with a book while I'm otherwise occupied or when I am in desperate need of some quiet space.

They read at home. They find books when we are out and about visiting—and just sit down to read. They read in Costco. They spend most of our driving time reading (thank heavens they don’t get car sick!).

I don’t know how it happened. Not only are my boys strong, independent readers, but they are willing to read almost anything I put in front of them. I work hard (sometimes very hard!!) to find quality books that will appeal to them in a wide range of subjects and reading levels. If they really don’t care for a book, I try not to push it.

Levi, in particular, is such a good sport and reads such a challenging variety, that if he tells me he truly doesn’t care for a book I’ll just let it go. (And in return, I also overlook many of his own book choices that I don’t care for, knowing his main literary diet is a quality one.)

I often ask Luke to read just a couple pages or the first chapter or two of a book. Sometimes that does the trick, and he finishes the book. Sometimes he doesn’t like it at all, and we find a new selection for him.

Why am I telling you this? I’ve gotten several comments and questions about the reading lists I post as part of our weekly or monthly ‘reports.’

Are the books on our list read aloud, cover to cover? When I began this homeschooling journey, one of the things I was most excited about was being able to read all the great history and literature books with the boys. As it turns out, there are only so many hours in a day. And somehow I couldn’t wrap my head around that before. I WANT to read all those books aloud.

But the rest of our subjects are teacher-intensive. Keeping up with life is me-intensive. I have a 1 year old who needs a lot of attention. The 5 year old needs a lot of attention, and he would have to be duct-taped in order to sit still and quiet enough to sit with us. The 7 year old is profoundly visual, and he can only stand to be read to if he is smack-dab up against me with my fingers running under each word as I read. (I still hear ‘where are you?’ incessantly while I read.) (For what it’s worth, I hated being read aloud to when I was young for the same reason, and a great deal of the books would float by me unheard while I was daydreaming.) My 9 year old loves to hear books read aloud, but the interruptions are annoying and he could read about 10 books in the time it takes me to read one aloud.

Excuses? Yep. But I’m human (even lazy on occasion, gasp), and I can only do so much.

And so—most of the books on our list are read independently (cover to cover) by Levi and Luke. I read The Story of the World aloud. I try to have one book in process of being read aloud, even if it takes forever to finish. The other books range from simple picture books to much more challenging chapter books. I assign specific pages in the history encyclopedias to correspond with our studies (though they will probably have read them cover to cover by the time we’re done with our 4 year history cycle.) The longer chapter books are usually only read by Levi. I try to indicate which chapter books were read by which boy (or both) for my own records. Leif reads books here and there, but his reading is much more difficult to keep track of.

How do I choose which books to read? The history and literature selections correspond with our history studies. Last year they generally lined up with our Classical Conversations topics. This year they line up with the topics we are covering in The Story of the World. Many books are from the book lists in the SOTW activity guide. My sister and I own a large (ahem) collection of books, which we share. Otherwise, I keep in mind our up-coming history topics and see what our library has to offer. I scour Amazon for ideas.

For literature, I am trying to have the boys work through some classics chronologically. I use the literature lists in the reading sections of The Well-Trained Mind as a spring-board. I’d love to have our literature reading line up perfectly with our history studies, but I’m not that talented. As much as possible, Levi is reading unabridged versions, but we also do retellings (picture books, simple chapter books, audio CDs, and even movies). I try to find biographies of the authors as well. I love a good picture book biography!!

For free reading, I consult multiple book lists, recommendations from friends, see what pops out at me when I visit the library, and (again) scour Amazon.

How do I keep track of our reading? Right here. At the beginning of the month I start a post, add to it as we finish books, tasks, or activities, and publish it at the end of the month. That’s it. This blog is the sum total of my record keeping. Everything in one place, tagged by subject. Memories? Here. Photos? Here. Recipes? Here. Ideas? Here. Links? Here. Book lists? Here.

If you have managed to get this far, let me sum up: My boys are boys. But they are also readers. They make me (and our book lists) look really good. Nothing else in our lives is as consistent. (House cleaning, routines, meals, discipline, activities, bedtimes, whatever. At least the boys read. Ha!) And, in a sad turn of events, my own reading has gone ‘poof!’ into thin air.

Any questions?


Briana Almengor said...

I actually do have a question. Well, first thanks for detailing what it looks like in your house.
My boys do like to read as well, and I am grateful for that. One likes to read more than the other. For now, I have them both read to me aloud daily and I read to them daily. Mind you, I only have 2 boys (twins) in 2nd grade and a 4.5 yr. old girl to contend with. No one year olds here at the moment.
My question is this:
Do you require or do your boys naturally finish books? I think mine are content with picking up a book, reading portions from it randomly and not finishing it. I'm talking chapter books here. Of course, I am notorious myself for doing the very same thing, but I wondered what your thoughts on this are.

Heidi said...

That's a good question. My oldest is often content with reading (and re-reading) parts and pieces of many books at the same time. He just picks up whatever book is near. :) I tend to keep track of the books he has started that *I* want him to read and find it and HAND it to him whenever he gets a chance to read. I will also round up library books every so often and let him know how much time he has to finish before they are returned. I don't mind when he re-reads portions of books. My 2nd grader is a little more sequential in nature. If he isn't continuing a book on his own and it's one I want him to read, I'll hand it to him and ask him to read one chapter. (And I keep doing that until it is finished.) If either one of the boys tell me they hate a book, I don't make them finish it. (That will probably change when they get older.) I suggest books for my youngest (5yo), but I don't require any reading from him. He is often more willing to read a book if I'll sit and listen to him read aloud because he loves one on one time.

Laura at By the Bushel said...

Heidi, you inspire. Please don't quit blogging. Ever. :) I would 'free-wheel' a little more if I didn't have the panoply of outside voices causing me to quesiton the less-documented reading method. I keep a list in a notebook. Summer is several pages, school year is less than full. Academics get in the way. (Agh!!) And I must document to keep homeschool nay-sayers away. I know I'm not supposed to 'care' what others think but it has kept me in-line with what might otherwise be a very willy-nilly effort to educate my children.
I have begun to consider, about to press the button on another curriculum you've recommended. I went forward on AAS, and am slowly moving through. Love it. But I've also considered book 3 of Teaching Textbooks Math. (for a 8yo 2nd grader). I have considered because of my lack of Math lingo/teaching vocuabulary, and I just think he needs something more. I plan to move slowly, but looking through I think it will be a good fit.
Thoughts? Advice? He loves math, and is stuck with a language oriented mom.
p.s. poof-gone is an excellent description of my personal reading efforts. Have you ever read the '#1 Ladies Detective Agency' Series. Quick sweet reads. ...
Best, Laura

Christie said...

I have boy readers too!

While lit and history are nice when they dovetail, I've come to believe its also fine when they don't and the connections happen without forcing it.

I liked your reminder that some kids do better reading on their own, or reading over your shoulder with the read-aloud. I have never been good at listening, which is probably why I've enjoyed being one reading aloud!

Tsh @ Simple Mom said...

"I don’t know how it happened."

I know how it happened - you said it in your post. You read, your hubby reads, your extended family reads. Your kids have seen the grownups in their lives read, and they see it as normal that they should read, too.

I love that, Heidi. You inspire me. And I agree... don't ever stop writing what you're doing. I often head here to get school ideas. Really.

And I'm glad to hear your boys do more independent reading than read-alouds with you. I was starting to feel badly about that, but Tate really does read so much faster when I just give her stuff to read, instead of waiting for me to sit down and be interrupted 10 times before finishing a chapter. She seems to enjoy it better, too. We save our read-alouds for nighttime, when it's the boys, too, and we read easier stuff with pictures.

Heidi said...

Laura~ I definitely like keeping track of what we do...I just keep track here rather than on paper. It helps me to see that we're actually accomplishing things (when some days feel hit and miss, the monthly reports reflect a bigger picture) and it keeps me accountable (I hear you about the willy-nilly. :))

As for Teaching Textbooks, if you have a mathy son, he may progress quickly through TT3 even at his age. Many students work a year or two ahead, and TT3 starts out VERY basic. My boys thought it was fun and novel and did the first 30 lessons in just a few days. Then the novelty wore off, it got a little more challenging, and they went at a slower pace. The lessons are pretty short and simple. Just get a feel for what he is capable of and even consider doing two lessons a day (maybe one in the morning and one in the afternoon) if he enjoys it or finds it easy. We are supplementing with more conceptual math programs, as well. I love the Critical Thinking Co. math workbooks (like Math Balance) and Life of Fred. Those are things he might be able to do on his own, or you could do Life of Fred as a read-aloud. :) Or just do TT--lots of people find that is enough, especially at a grade ahead.

(I've read a few of the #1 Ladies' Detective Agency books and really enjoyed them. Maybe I need to pick up the next one...)

Hannah said...

I just finished writing this post:

... and clicked over and found yours! It's delightful, truly. I love that your boys are BOTH spirited/active AND literary. What a stereotype-defying gift!

My husband and I both read, but our children aren't nearly as bookish, which sort of makes me suspect a vision issue or something. They've been read aloud to from birth, but it hasn't "taken" quite the way it did for us as kids. We shall persevere, however. :-)

Laura at By the Bushel said...

Many thanks Heidi~ Laura