The Portable Magic

We’ve hit a family milestone.

On a Saturday not long ago, we had no plans, and no place to go, as is mostly the case during our pandemic life.

My petite Lark was bored and complaining that she had nothing to do, although she owns all the toys and art supplies in the universe.

I suggested that we all grab a book and have a “family reading session” in the living room for half an hour. Admittedly, I expected her to scoff at this suggestion as she had the other 1,000 ideas I’d offered up, but she agreed.

For 30, blissful, quiet minutes, we sat together but apart, each person reading a book of our own choosing.

We have arrived. We have arrived at the sweet spot where both my children are able – and willing – to occupy themselves silently with reading, and it feels amazing.

The Lark is in Grade 1, and she’s been neither a super-precocious reader nor has she needed supports. She’s squarely in the middle of the range, which is, of course, great.

Because when your kid is struggling to learn to read, it can be devastating for both parent and child.

My oldest had some difficulty finding his way in the first grade. Due to chronic illness and missing an unfortunate amount of school, Bean was slipping behind the others in his class. I remember well my feelings of panic and worry, as I discussed with his teacher what we could do to help him keep up.

For a time, I worried that reading would never become something that he loved to do. I hated the thought that it could be a source of stress for him, or feel like an unwanted chore.

We embarked on an all-hands-on-deck reading campaign, and ultimately, it was successful. Over the course of a year, my son left the struggle behind and became a bona fide bookworm.

He now reads roughly 5+ hefty novels a week.

Hammock + Book = Perfect Combo.

It’s kind of funny, looking back, that we ever had any concerns about this voracious reader.

My very best advice, to any parent with worries is this: firstly, talk to your child’s teacher and ask for help. Secondly, don’t force your child if they aren’t ready, but be there to support them.

You can and should read them things far above their own level, if age-appropriate. I read my son the entire Harry Potter series before he was able to read those books on his own. As a result, some part of my personality will forever be Dumbledore or Professor Snape because I have to do the voices.

“We have an obligation to read aloud to our children. To read them things they enjoy.  To read them stories we are already tired of.  To do the voices, to make it interesting, and not stop reading to them just because they learn to read to themselves.  Use reading-aloud time as bonding time…when the distractions of the world are put aside.”

Neil Gaiman

Also! Allow your kids to lead, and to choose what they want to read, and do not criticize their choices.

The little one became super-excited about independent reading because she checked these gems out of the library:

MLP Graphic Novels. Does it get better.

Although inwardly, I was like, My Little Pony graphic novels, really? Outwardly, Friendship is indeed Magic! Can’t wait to read these!

Your kid doesn’t need a reading menu of classics and high-brow fare. Okay, I did read Jane Eyre at a precocious age, BUT I also enjoyed reading Sweet Valley High and I (eventually) turned into a functioning adult.

Things We Found Helpful

For more from me on reading see this popular post:

For tips and tricks to help children, here’s a well-researched and thoughtful article at: Penguin UK

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