“Find Me More Like This One” by Cathy Dohn
Quite often, I have parents talk to me about how they can’t get their son or daughter to read, how its become a fight to get them to read at home. They understand the importance of having their child read, but are unsure how to get them to read. I always did my best to give them different strategies, hoping it would help to get their child to love or at least like reading again.
The irony of this story is that I found myself in the same position this year. My daughter, my peanut as I like to call her, turned seven this year. Reading was one thing we loved to do together. We have piles of books around the house that we like to read, going to the local bookstore and library is a weekly occurrence for the two of us. However, this year, things changed partway through the year. I have a daughter who is still very black and white, so if her teacher told her she must read 2 books on her online reading program and answer the comprehension questions after, she would do three. If she was told to pick books out of “her” bin, she would do it, even if it meant seeing the same book 2-3 times over the months. She was comfortable with this routine, it was one set by her teacher so I tried to respect it and go along with it. The thing was that as the months went by, she started to not be so quick to grab her book, she would try to put off her reading, even if I did say she could pick a book from the piles around the house. It honestly came to the point where we started fighting about reading. I felt that same exasperation that these former parents felt and at that moment, I honestly wanted to throw my hands up too.
The answer to my problem, funny enough, came out of my own classroom library. Sunday afternoons are often spent in my classroom getting ready for the week and peanut comes with me because she loves coming too. I was doing my work and I noticed it was quiet. I looked over and she was wandering through my class library I have tucked in a corner of my room. All of a sudden I noticed she grabbed a book and quietly sat in one of my chairs. As time went on, there were these little giggles as she read her book. But, for me, the big moment came when she asked me if she could take the book home with her. I won’t lie, it was hard not to say hallelujah. But I just smiled and said of course she could. She ended up taking the book to school the next day and came home asking if we could go to the library because she wanted to find more books like this one.
Now I do have to add the following, my peanut had broken her arm during this time and unfortunately had to stay inside most recesses on doctor’s orders. The one thing that she could do was read. We ended going to the library that day and she picked up 2 more books. Again she finished them quickly and I ended up bringing more of the series home with me as the days went on.
I couldn’t get the books fast enough. We were reading them together and laughing as the character had one misadventure after another. Luckily I had made arrangements with her teacher earlier to no longer have Piper have to do the books from the bins, but rather let her read the books she and I were choosing at the library to read instead.
I am lucky that things were able to turn around and I honestly want to thank authors Jenni and Matthew Holm for bringing my daughter’s love of reading back. It is because of Babymouse and Squish that my daughter is a reader again. She is loving the adventures of these wonderful characters and is constantly asking me to get her new books from the library which makes my heart smile.
To sum things up, to those parents who find themselves in the same position I offer the following advice – sometimes a child can lose interest in reading if they feel they don’t have a choice or a voice in what they are reading. By letting my peanut find a book that interested her, that spoke to her, it started her back on her reading journey. Every child is different, of course, but if you help your child find a book that interests them whether it be about a wimpy kid, a origami yoda or even a mouse that has crazy adventures, it will go a long way in helping your child get that spark again.
Cathy Dohn is a grade 3 teacher in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. She is passionate about books and reading, trying to develop a love of both in her students. Both she (@Catherine_D2013) and her class (@BGMakerbots) are active on Twitter and love connecting with other educators and classes around the world. You can also check out her blog onhttps://catherined2014.wordpress.com/