Confessions of a Reading Mom by Jodi-Beth Moreno
My fellow book lovers, I have a confession to make. I am failing and I am failing miserably. I am not sure how this happened, and I don’t think I have ever felt more ashamed, but I have a “resistant” reader in my house. I know what all the research says, and I have spent years turning other people’s children into voracious readers, but somehow, I have left my own child floundering in the wind with a mediocre attitude toward books.
My oldest daughter would rather do anything than read. I have tried not making it a big deal, I have tried making it a big deal, I have read with her, I have left her alone, I have taken her to book festivals, I have talked to her about my own reading life, she’s met awesome authors, and still…nothing. During the school year, I was able to combat the reading resistance with audio books on our commute to and from school; Fish in a Tree by Linda Mullaly Hunt was a real hit. (She is still asking me if I had a wooden nickel day or a silver dollar day when I get home from work.) The confusing thing is that when she reads a good book, she can’t stop talking about it and I know she truly enjoys a great story; however, it isn’t often that she will choose to read in her free time. Is it laziness? Is it the distraction of technology? Is she just one of the children I won’t be able to help? How did she go from reading a book a day to a few books a year? It must be more than just the increased length of the books, but I can’t put my finger on it. These are the questions that plague my mind on a regular basis, but even more so now that the long, drawn-out days of summer are upon us.
I miss the days when she would beg for a bedtime story. We would read The Berenstain Bears over and over again, until I grew tired of my favorite bear family who “lived down a sunny dirt road deep in Bear Country.” We read more and more until I grew resistant to Pretty Salma and her grandmother’s song, became frustrated by Pinkalicious and her silliness, and downright annoyed with Dr. Seuss. Yup, I said it. The only character who survived the bedtime routine with my affinity for her still intact was the fabulous Fancy Nancy and her friend Bree. They are adorable! But I digress. The point is that she couldn’t get enough of her favorite stories and now she can’t be bothered. Well, she can be bothered with Diary of a Wimpy Kid and most graphic novels which I am thankful for, but no other titles catch her eye. How did we get here? What else can I do to help her as she becomes more independent? She is eleven years old and the bedtime story approach doesn’t seem to intrigue her anymore, nor does this busy season of life often allow time for it, but maybe we should go back to basics.
I want so badly for her to have a full reading life. The reader in me, the teacher in me, and most importantly, the mother in me, can’t go down without a fight. A well-intentioned, research-based fight, of course.
Jodi-Beth Moreno has been an English Language Arts and Reading teacher for 12 years in districts across the Rio Grande Valley region of Texas. She currently is an ELAR Specialist servicing secondary educators throughout the area. She’s a Harry Potter fan, a card-carrying member of the Backstreet Army, an avid reader, and a fan of all passionate educators and authors. You can connect with her on Twitter: @JodiBethMoreno where she is always willing to talk books.