Milestones: Reading Ahead by Kristina Cerise

I’m reading aloud from book two of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series (The Sea of Monsters) and can’t help but notice that my son isn’t really listening. This book has held him in rapt attention for days, but suddenly, his eyes are wandering the room instead of being glued to the page.

“Are you listening?” I ask.

“Yeah.” he responds, still scanning the room as if looking for better offers.

“Do you still want to read this book?”

“Yes!” he says enthusiastically as he adjusts himself and focuses back on the page.

I read, taking care to fill my voice with inflection in an effort to hold his attention. “And at the center of the island, right next to the rope bridge, was an enormous twisted oak tree with something glittering in its lowest bough…

“Mom,” he interjects. “It’s just that I’ve already read this part.”

“What?! Did you read ahead?” It’s an accusation veiled as a question and he tries to respond with an appropriately sheepish and apologetic look. But, the glee shines through.

“Yeah! And it’s great. Go ahead and keep reading. I’ll tell you when you get to a part I haven’t read.”

“How far ahead did you read?”

“Here, I’ll show you.” He takes the book from me and thumbs ahead through the pages until he’s about 50 pages on and has found where he left off.

I’m hurt. This was supposed to be a read aloud. We’d both enjoyed the first book in the series and I was looking forward to reading the next four together. I imagined him looking back fondly some day on those months in his childhood when he sat next to his mother on the couch as she mispronounced the names of Greek gods.

I’m also happy. My son is not a reluctant reader; he enjoys reading. But, he’s always been able to resist. Rick Riordan changed that. My son discovered characters who completely captivate him and he can’t wait to find out what they do next. Now, he rushes through his morning routine in hopes of carving out time for just a few more pages before it’s time to go.

I nurse my bruised ego, recognizing that it won’t be the last time my son chooses time with friends—in this case literary ones—over time with me.

“How about if I just read to myself until I get to where you are?”

He agrees and hops off the couch to play. A while later, I announce that I’m all caught up and he bounds back to my side. “Wasn’t that exciting? Were you surprised about Tyson? Or the guinea pigs?”

I smile, adjust to my role as follower instead of leader, and read on.

When you think ‘monster island,’ you think craggy rocks and bones scattered on the beach like the island of the Sirens. The Cyclops’s island was nothing like that…


author picKristina Cerise is a Seattle writer, editor and mom trying to find meaning in the madness. The mom she planned to be often shakes her head at the mom she has become. You may have seen her at the grocery store trying to play it cool after the crash that followed her blatant disregard for the proper placement of children infographic prominently featured on every grocery cart. Her writing has appeared in Working Mother; Creative Nonfiction; Brain, Child; and most recently in Motherhood May Cause Drowsiness (Second Edition). She blogs about words and what they mean to her at Defining Motherhood and occasionally impersonates a bird @DefineMother