Taking Ownership of His Reading Life by Jaymie Dieterle
My husband and I started investing our son’s reading life early on. He had a shelf of Sandra Boynton books in his bedroom before he was born. We read multiple books during the day when I was home with him as well as at bedtime. As a toddler, I often found him “reading” to his stuffed animals (holding up the book and telling his version of the story) when I went to get him up from his nap.
Our regular routine in those days included book-related activities. Almost weekly during the pre-kindergarten years we would drive to Barnes and Noble 30 minutes away from our home for breakfast and story time. This was probably more for me than it was for him, but it became part of our routine. The booksellers knew us on sight. The library was another favorite outing. My son knew exactly where to find the transportation section so he could check out his favorite books on the International Space Station. He would grab a picture book from a display and plop on the floor wherever he was to start flipping through it.
By the time he was ready for kindergarten, my son had a good-sized library of his own. He enjoyed listening to chapter books, so we worked through Jigsaw Jones, Magic Tree House, and Stink Moody. Eventually he started reading on his own, too, and we added Ricky Ricotta, Captain Underpants and Roscoe Riley to our repertoire. The whole family enjoyed reading the Harry Potter series together. All three of us have our own set of the books to read whenever we want.
When my son started third grade, I became the librarian at his elementary school. Suddenly, I had carte blanche to dive as deeply into the world of children’s literature as I wanted. As I read, he read. We discovered The Genius Files series, Wings of Fire, The False Prince, Percy Jackson and countless other treasures together. Sometimes he would choose books I didn’t want to read because they weren’t my style, but they were always titles I knew about. We still chose books as partners in the reading process.
When he was a fifth grader, he started singing the praises of a book he was reading on his Nook. I had okayed it when he bought it, but it was a title I knew nothing about. I hadn’t read about it or even heard of it. I listened to him that day and for a moment it was as though time stopped. I was listening to my son sell me a book. He compared it to things he already knew I liked. He had worked out that there were earlier books from this “world,” and he had a plan to read through all of them. And to cap it off, he asked for a day on the blog I had at the time so he could review this new treasure he discovered all on his own.
All on his own. Without my input or endorsement. Without a recommendation from a friend or a teacher.
In that moment I realized that my child had moved on to a new stage in his reading development. Not only did he not need me to point him to new material, but he was no longer relying on me to find material for him, either. My son had taken ownership over his own reading life. This independence has only grown as he moved into his sixth grade year this school year.
As a reader, as a mom, and as a teacher, this is everything I could have hoped for him! His school workload is such that he has ample time for reading for pleasure. He shares his book discoveries with his friends (and also with my husband and me), and he is counting down the days until he can have his own Goodreads account. It’s exciting to move from reading mentor to reading peer like this – to see his independence and confidence grow and mature. I couldn’t be more proud of him.
Jaymie Dieterle lives in Indiana with her husband and son and is an elementary school librarian. She has been an avid reader since childhood when she devoured Nancy Drew, the Bobbsey Twins and Trixie Belden and cut swim lessons to go to the library. Jaymie can be reached on Twitter at @justjaymied or on Goodreads. She also blogged at bringonthebooks.blogspot.com through 2014.