When your child doesn’t read

I was the kid who loved books. They were my escape, my happy place, my world beyond worlds. I remember my grandmother reading “Little House in the Big Woods” to me and getting impatient because she couldn’t sit there and read the entire thing to me at once – no, I had to wait for her to come over again and read more.

Luckily, my grandparents visited a lot. But still not often enough to satisfy my need to find out what happened next in the book. Learning how to read books myself was a very important life goal for me as a child, one I mastered quite well. Then came battles with the librarians, who would see me coming with a stack of books and say “Oh honey, you couldn’t possibly read ALL those books!”

Watch me.

As a parent, I am a good example to my kids by always having my nose stuck in a book, having book shelves heaving with books, being the mom who says “Yes I shall buy you that book!” when we’re out. I wouldn’t force them to read – that’s what school was for. At home, they could read whatever they wanted to read.

And then came Maura.

Maura actually does love books. She thinks books are cool. We got a new one just yesterday (a new version of “Tangled” that we don’t own.) She likes books with and without pictures. She has a copy of Ray Bradbury stories that’s a favorite to lug about. She also enjoys magazines and will get in a death match with you over a newspaper. Seriously, the girl loves newsprint.

There’s only one small catch. Maura doesn’t actually read.

“Oh, but maybe she can and you’re just downplaying her skills!” one may say. One may not realize that she will be content to hold that newspaper upside down while flipping through it expertly, which leads me to believe that her reading skills aren’t as up to par as one might think. Either that, or she’s freaking amazing – which is also possible. But I’m going with “She can’t really read.”

We’ve been working on sight words. I’m still trying to get her to see the difference in the words “men” and “women” for public bathroom reasons. She knows her first name well enough. Simple words like “dog” and “mom” she can also get. These are words they’ve been working with her on for years. I don’t know if the concept of phonics is something Maura can grasp.

And yet, she loves books. And so I keep buying them for her. She loves those simple beginning to read books, and we’ve found graphic novels of My Little Pony and Powerpuff Girls that she adores. She also loves to have the closed captioning on when watching a show, and you know what? I let that happen as well. Why? Because who knows, maybe that will be the thing that helps Maura learn to read. And also because sometimes, it gets loud in our house so this way, I don’t miss what’s being said either.

People ask if Maura reads my blog, or can guest post. Right now, the answer is no. No, she doesn’t read my blog because her reading skills aren’t there yet. She can’t guest post because she is still learning how to type words – just words, we haven’t worked up to sentence structures. I don’t read her my blog because honestly, she doesn’t always like being read to. Neither did her brother when he was little,  and who reads just fine now. I think that’s just a case of personal preference, not disability. She does enjoy seeing her picture up on the blog, and who wouldn’t if you were that good looking with amazing coloring and a smile that lights up the whole state?

It’s weird – this should be one area where, because of my own desperate love of reading and writing, I should be so very disappointed or heartbroken over. But I’m not. Because Maura still can enjoy books in her own way, and just because she hasn’t figured out reading just yet doesn’t mean she won’t ever. Maybe future Maura will read this, how cool would that be?

Meanwhile, I’m just going to be thankful we live in a time where graphic novels are all en vogue. Because those? Those Maura can follow along with and get. Less words, more action pictures, perfect for my tween.

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