Friday, April 9, 2010

Here's One To Try

Yesterday I sat down and read Ben's new book. He got it in his Easter Basket. It's the latest "Stink" book -- by the same author of the "Judy Moody" books.

I really liked it for kids who like space. It has a cute storyline about "saving Pluto" as a planet because scientists have "kicked it out of our solar system."

It is an easier chapter book, and the reading is managable -- chapters are just long enough, there is dialogue which lends itself to some fluency practice, and there are "fact fun pages" that teach kids in a humorous way about each of the planets.

Ben read me the first four chapters in one sitting, and I worked with him on some of the subtle humor and vocab -- "sour ball face" "he got skunked" "gonzo" "buttering her up" -- and throughout the book they use mnemonics - using the first letter of each of the planets and making up a sentence to help remember them (My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas - remember that one???).

It's a cute book, and good for those strugglers or kids entering chapter book stage.

On another note, I had a conversation with another baseball mom about her boys and reading. She's a great model for us -- she works hard with them and is a wonderful advocate for what they need. But both of them are quite different, and the older one has some things that make academics really hard for him.

I could hear in her voice her sadness and frustration, but also determination. She's tried everything, has lots of interventions in place at school and at home, and he still struggles.

That is the worst feeling as a parent, I know. The last thing we want is for our kids to hurt or have trouble...give it to us, not them.

I wanted to focus not on the diagnosis, but on how we can find the right material for him within his range of just right books. It is hard, when you as a parent are working so hard with them, yet you can't find that "click."

DON'T GIVE UP. I found my wheels turning as we spoke and I wanted to run home from the field immediately and pull about 10 different books to try with him.

I am going to bring them to her on Saturday. I told her I wanted her to focus on the fun of the book. I want him, as a second grader, to laugh and see the I am going to start with Gerald and Piggie by Mo Willems (see some earlier posts on how to use the books) and Fly Guy. He has a younger sister, so I told her that might be a great way to have him practice too...he'll get the deeper humor and sarcasm, while she'll just think it's a cute story with a pig and elephant.

Suffice it to say, she presented a puzzle to me...I am going to do everything I can to see if I can find what books he can love. I don't have the know how to solve his reading problems completely, but if I can find that ONE book he laughs and enjoys...he will keep trying.

That's what good readers do...keep reading and growing.

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