My 8 year-old son, in addition to consuming larger-than-ever quantities of food, has started to consume enormous quantities of books, and we can’t seem to keep up! As I speak, he is sitting on the couch reading through the third book that we picked up yesterday afternoon at the library. He has always loved being read to, and we have had such fun with him over the years tackling one adventure after another in The Chronicles of Narnia, The Magic Tree House series, My Father’s Dragon, and countless non-fiction books about frogs, the solar system, and dinosaurs. For several years, he has had fun skimming through magazines (Highlights, National Geographic, Boys’ Life), Lego encyclopedias (have you discovered these yet? they are great for 5+ year-old boys!), and some of the non-fiction books with great illustrations. However, it hasn’t been until a few months ago (just before his 8th birthday) that he would independently pick up a book and sit down to read of his own volition.
I say all of this because I think that many parents of little boys begin to panic when their sons don’t show an immediate love for independent reading. And while we’re on the subject, my son wasn’t at all interested in coloring or writing until fairly recently either. I would glance longingly in the direction of other families at the restaurant whose children were engrossed in their coloring pages, wondering why my child would only color for about 20 seconds at a time. Report cards always came home with a grade of “needs improvement” for handwriting, and it was always hard to decipher what to attribute to a lack of effort vs. what to attribute to developmental norms.
If any of this sounds familiar, I want to tell you that there is hope! My son just came home with a grade of “Excellent” in the handwriting category (really?!), he loves to read and draw, and he even enjoys writing when the topic catches his interest. I think that many moms of boys have had similar experiences. The key to independent reading with my son seems to be finding a series of books that he is interested in. Once we find a good series, I start requesting every book in that series on the library’s website, and we go to pick up half a dozen books at a time. Within a couple of weeks, he’s read through the series!
I know that there is lots of junk out there in the children’s literature department, especially for boys, but here are some good series that Christopher has recently been reading through:
Beverly Cleary series: Ribsy, Henry Huggins, Ralph S. Mouse, and Otis Spofford books
Jack Stalwart books, by Elizabeth Singer Hunt
Hank the Cowdog series, by John R. Erickson
“Akimbo” series, by Alexander McCall Smith
Boxcar Children series, by Gertrude Chandler Warner
Fudge books, by Judy Blume
What books have your sons enjoyed reading over the years? We will continue to read out loud to all of our children, of course, but are relishing this new stage of independent reading!