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dbsam
11-15-2013, 01:38 AM
My son is a reluctant reader who decided at age six he will never be a ‘good reader’.

He will read if pushed but rarely picks up a book on his own and will only read in short sessions. Lately, he loves being read to so sometimes I will read a few pages and ask him to read the occasional page. For the past year or two, his independent reading has consisted of mostly "Magic Treehouse" books. He enjoys them; partly because he can read them easily. He is 9yo and in 4th grade. This fall he joined a book club and the book they have been reading is "Chasing Vermeer". He enjoyed the book even though it was not an easy read for him. He says when he reads it to himself he doesn’t understand what he is reading so he prefers to read it out loud to me. (Does this mean the book is too difficult for him?) I’ve noticed from the beginning of the book to the end how much his reading has improved. (He read the book slowly…three chapters each week.)

I am thrilled if he reads anything so I never worried about the reading level. But now I wonder if slightly more difficult books would be the best way to improve his reading.

Recommendations for books he can read alone or out loud to me w/b appreciated. I do not want the book so difficult that he will give up…but more challenge than "Magic Treehouse" w/b nice. Friends have suggested "How to Train a Dragon" or "Harry Potter" but he has no interest and will not read them. I have stacks of books from the library, book mooch, etc. but he doesn't want to read most of them.

Some of his favorite books over the years (to give you an idea of his interest):
In 1st grade he loved all the "Frog and Toad" books and anything written by Arnold Lobel.
In 3rd grade he loved the "Prairie Skies" series by Deborah Hopkinson. He also really liked "The Chalk Box Kid."
Recently he really loved "The Cricket in Times Square" – I read it to him but now I think I s/h had him read some of it.

He is very sensitive (even books like "The Cricket in Times Square" can end up with tears) so I would not want a book that is too troubling.

TIA


p.s. My daughter, also age 9, loves to read. Suggestions for her are also welcome. She likes different books than my son. She likes Roald Dahl books. (Am I the only person who doesn’t care for his books?) She likes anything about animals - "Puppy Place", "Kitty Corner", etc. She is reading "Hoot" now for book club and just finished "The People of Pineapple Place", also for book club. She will not read out loud, and often has four books going at once, she seems to like just about anything.

AddlepatedMonkeyMama
11-15-2013, 08:03 AM
After Magic Tree House, my kids moved to other series with short books like "Moongobble and Me" by Bruce Coville, "Absolutely Lucy" by Ilene Cooper, "Catwings" by Ursula K. LeGuin, and the shorter books by Dahl and Dick King-Smith. My son also loves graphic novels and comics.

My animal-lovin' daughter (who reads Puppy Place and Kitty Corner, too) just started reading the Animal Ark books, which are about animals helped by a veterinary hospital-owning family. She also loved listening to Misty of Chincoteague and the sequels, Gentle Ben, Owls in the Family, and Black Beauty.

Norm Deplume
11-15-2013, 08:56 AM
My DS9 is also a very reluctant reader (he's actually quite competent, but is SUPER picky about books and won't read anything other than comics unless forced, most weeks). Here are some series we've tried.

Geronimo Stilton
Buddy Files by Butler
Flat Stanley by Brown

My daughter also really liked the Andrew Lost (Greenburg) and My Weird School (Gutman) series, but my son refuses to give them a try, probably because his big sister had read them. His pickiness makes me crazy.

He and I have read 4 of the How to Train Your Dragon books together as read-alouds, over the years. I really like them a lot.

dbsam
11-15-2013, 09:43 AM
Norm Deplume and AddlepatedMonkeyMama,
Thank you for the suggestions. I am going to go through them today with the kids.
We're also going to go through our stacks of unread books...maybe a book that did not interest my son in the past will interest him now.

My son just informed me that there are follow-up books to "The Cricket in Times Square". He wants to read them. He is going to make a list of books, including your suggestions, that he wants to read.

Jen Law
11-15-2013, 11:01 AM
My 9 year old daughter is a bit of a Michael Morpurgo nut and quite frankly I am too. We saw him doing some story telling and and talking about his work at the Old Vic theatre in Bristol during the summer just after she had read a couple of his books and we were completely taken by him. He writes books for all ages but the ones for younger kids/ less confident readers are not patonising and often deal with very challenging topics.

Your son might enjoy The Kites are Flying (http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Kites-Flying-Michael-Morpurgo/dp/1406317985/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0) (which is about a young Palestinian boy and his friendship with a western journalist) or The Mozart Question (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mozart-Question-Michael-Morpurgo/dp/1406312207) (about Jewish prisoners of was) which are fairly short stories which are accompanied by many beautiful illustrations.

In the UK we don't tend to assign grade level or reading level so much but Morpurgo's site (http://michaelmorpurgo.com/all-books) does sort all his books into Picture books, Younger Fiction or Older Fiction and many of the books have some educational materials available which has been produced for Morpurgo month (this month in celebration of his 70th birthday).

towhee
11-15-2013, 12:25 PM
There is so much about your post that reminds me of my daughter that I had to respond. She is eight, and in a family of readers, she is the one who has been reluctant. She only likes to read comics or graphic novels, but if I ask her to read a chapter book, she says there are too many words. Eventually I wondered about this -- it seemed like at some point she would want more depth to the things she is reading, but so far it hasn't been happening.

Long story short, we took her to a developmental optometrist who evaluates for visions problems, and my daughter does have some -- she has something called convergence insufficiency (the eyes don't work together properly when looking at something close, like a book) and may have a tracking disorder where she can't scan lines of text properly (we're still in the evaluation process for this).

Anyway, I don't know if there is something similar going on with your son, but I wanted to mention the possibility because he sounds so similar to my daughter -- enjoying comics, enjoying being read to, not understanding what he is reading. It might be worth a vision assessment by someone who can look for vision processing issues; it is possible to have these problems even if you have 20/20 vision.

I thought this article was decent and has a list of symptoms to look for. However, my daughter doesn't show many of the symptoms on the list, possibly because I never force her to do the kind of reading she dislikes. Basically, she only likes to read comics, she has poor handwriting, spelling, and fine motor skills. All of those things made me wonder if something was going on.

Hidden Vision Problems Can Block Learning (http://www.teivision.com/visionTherapy/hiddenVisionProblems.html)

Tori

dbsam
11-15-2013, 02:11 PM
There is so much about your post that reminds me of my daughter that I had to respond. She is eight, and in a family of readers, she is the one who has been reluctant. She only likes to read comics or graphic novels, but if I ask her to read a chapter book, she says there are too many words. Eventually I wondered about this -- it seemed like at some point she would want more depth to the things she is reading, but so far it hasn't been happening.

Long story short, we took her to a developmental optometrist who evaluates for visions problems, and my daughter does have some -- she has something called convergence insufficiency (the eyes don't work together properly when looking at something close, like a book) and may have a tracking disorder where she can't scan lines of text properly (we're still in the evaluation process for this).

Anyway, I don't know if there is something similar going on with your son, but I wanted to mention the possibility because he sounds so similar to my daughter -- enjoying comics, enjoying being read to, not understanding what he is reading. It might be worth a vision assessment by someone who can look for vision processing issues; it is possible to have these problems even if you have 20/20 vision.

I thought this article was decent and has a list of symptoms to look for. However, my daughter doesn't show many of the symptoms on the list, possibly because I never force her to do the kind of reading she dislikes. Basically, she only likes to read comics, she has poor handwriting, spelling, and fine motor skills. All of those things made me wonder if something was going on.

Hidden Vision Problems Can Block Learning (http://www.teivision.com/visionTherapy/hiddenVisionProblems.html)

Tori

Thank you!
Actually, I have been considering taking him to see someone about possible vision issues. He's seen an ophthalmologist since he was two and he no longer wears glasses. My sister suggested a doctor who does vision therapy. My son does not like comic books. However, he seems to have difficulty tracking (does better if he puts something under the line he is reading) and he used to turn the book really sideways when he read (he no longer does this). Our eye doctor said both of these issues typically go away in time and they have improved. I looked at the list in the article you linked...he doesn't have many of the symptoms. He is a poor speller (but so is my husband so that might be genetic!) and he sometimes skips words on the page. Often he just says a different word that starts with the same letter. I wasn't sure if he was just rushing through the reading. When he reads a book, he can discuss it in detail after reading, so I do not think he has comprehension issues - at least with simpler books like Magic Treehouse. "Chasing Vermeer" is the first book he has mentioned he doesn't understand what he has read if he doesn't read out loud. It is probably the most advanced book he's read himself.

I have been considering an eval for vision therapy for two years...but then see so much improvement I decide not to have him evaluated. Our eye doctor is very well respected and he does not think the vision therapy is needed. The doctor who does the vision therapy is very expensive (~$7k) and some people think it works wonders (like my sister) and others felt it was a scam. I should schedule the evaluation anyway just for peace of mind. I feel like a bit of a looser not scheduling it sooner, but I have two kids with health issues and sometimes I do not want to know if there is something else that needs addressing, especially when I see improvement and can convince myself all is fine :>( Plus, I do not want him to think there is something else 'wrong' with him. He has had so many doctor appointments and therapies over the years. He is doing so well right now and is much happier.


p.s. Much of his negativity about reading was caused when he was 6. His first grade teacher told him (in front of the class) the second week of school that he was not fluent and he was the worst reader in the class. She told me she was trying to motivate him. She decided in October that he would not be able to get his Dibels scores up to level 'I' by the end of the year and would need to be held back. By spring he went from level 'A' to the required level 'I' on the testing and he was quite proud of himself, but she told him he was a 'weak I'. - grrrrrr
I probably made the situation worse by never pushing him to read more.

Gosh...once again I type a book-length response. Sorry for the rambling.

dbsam
11-15-2013, 02:18 PM
Jen Law,
Thank you for the suggestions.
I've visited the Morpurgo site; there are books that will definitely interest my children.

hockeymom
11-15-2013, 03:57 PM
What an awful "teacher"!! I'm so mad for you about that! Some people really have no idea how much influence they have. My son would have the same complex if he'd heard something like that. Grr.

Moving on...after MTH, my son read books like the Time Warp Trio series, which is still quite simple but whose characters are closer to your son's age. They are quite silly and adventurous, and also history based like MTH so it might make for an easy transition.

Frannie K Stein, Stink, and Araminta Spookie (all different series) were also big hits at that level. Nothing objectionable in them for a sensitive kid, I don't think.

Perhaps just a bit more difficult: Measle and the Doompit if you can find it was a huge hit (it's British; we found it because at the time we lived in Canada, but it's worth searching for). Also, how about Bunnicula? And The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket is just fabulous, unless the idea of 3 orphaned kids is too much for him.

Series books are so good at the level; they give enough structure to be predictable which I think can be really helpful.

HTH!

dbsam
11-15-2013, 04:49 PM
Hockeymom,
Thanks for the book recs and the commiseration regarding the first grade teacher.
My children read Bunnicula a couple of years ago (actually I think my daughter read it to my son) and they enjoyed it. He hasn't read the other books you've suggested.

Last year he liked reading the Boxcar children series which was about orphaned kids; The Series of Unfortunate Events s/b fine.
thx

farrarwilliams
11-15-2013, 05:03 PM
This fall he joined a book club and the book they have been reading is "Chasing Vermeer". He enjoyed the book even though it was not an easy read for him. He says when he reads it to himself he doesn’t understand what he is reading so he prefers to read it out loud to me. (Does this mean the book is too difficult for him?) I’ve noticed from the beginning of the book to the end how much his reading has improved. (He read the book slowly…three chapters each week.)


I just wanted to pull this out. Yes, it does. Chasing Vermeer is a great book and most fourth graders could read it. But not all. It's listed as a RL 5.6 (so that's an upper fifth grade reading level). And it's a very complex story with lots of different pieces. For a book club, I think it's fine to do the audiobook or read aloud. Remember that there are a lot of elements to reading - actually decoding is one, decoding and understanding is another, but just understanding and analyzing is another and you don't have to have done the decoding yourself to do that - listening is okay too. :)

It sounds like you're on the right track now. I second Hockeymom's good suggestions. I can throw out some more if you like, but I think you have some leads.

popsicle1010
11-15-2013, 10:20 PM
I just wanted to add that there's a whole school of thought that would encourage you and praise you for reading out loud or along with your son if he is a reluctant reader or still in the confidence-building stage. Just wanted to compliment you on doing this with him. I don't think this approach is especially valued in our society at large after about kindergarten age. I imagine instead of shoulda woulda coulda having had him read to himself you may have done him a world of benefit by reading to him. Good work! :)

dbsam
11-15-2013, 10:32 PM
Thanks popsicle1010.
Unfortunately, I didn't read to my children much when they were little. I knew it was important and intended to...but often the day went by and we didn't read. So...I am hoping later is better than never.

ejsmom
11-16-2013, 12:31 PM
The books that got my child (with now resolved vision issues) into reading was the Diary of A Wimpy Kid series. I know that isn't exactly high brow literature, however he received the first book as a gift, and read it in 2 hours and asked to go to the bookstore for the next one. The books have larger print, many comic-like illustrations, and pre-teen boy humor. My son asked to see the movie when it came out, and that was his first experience with comparing/contrasting a book and the movie. Now he reads all the time and he prefers science texts and good historical fiction. Don't give up!

Peaceful
11-16-2013, 08:22 PM
What about origami yoda. Not great literature but my son thinks they are hysterical. My son did a book club at the library with one of the books. It was great the kids all loved it.

Teri
11-16-2013, 09:05 PM
I didn't read all of the responses, but my son was a reluctant reader at that age. His first successful, fun read was Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
He was very sensitive to font, type size, and arrangement of text. Having the lines on the page, like a journal, really helped him.
Geronimo Stilton was another one that had varied font types and sizes.
Mercy Watson was a series that my daughter (dyslexic) loved.

Have you considered having him evaluated for a reading disorder?

dbsam
11-16-2013, 09:49 PM
Have you considered having him evaluated for a reading disorder?

I haven't because I figured he didn't read well when he started first grade because I hadn't properly prepared him for the PS expectations . Then, in 2nd and 3rd grades his teachers at the Montessori school felt he was fine; they said he just needed more confidence in his ability. He tends to be very hard on himself. They said he was progressing well and was within grade expectations.

I figured the more he reads the better he will become. Unfortunately, he doesn't enjoy reading so he doesn't read a lot. I am not really sure at what point I should have him tested. So far the only book he mentioned having difficulty understanding was Chasing Vermeer and as FarrarWilliams mentioned, it is a 5.6RL. When he read the book out loud to me, he seemed to understand it fine although he needed help with some words. (Although, now that I think about it, last year he picked up Charlie and the Chocolate Factory several times but never finished it. I bet it was too difficult for him. His twin sister read most of the Roald Dahl books last year; probably why he kept trying to read it. She started first grade at the same reading level as he did...she has just progressed more.)

It is so difficult for me to know at what point there is a problem since there is such a wide range of 'normal'. I was shocked so many of his first grade classmates had read the Harry Potter books. To me, that seems so advanced. But then, my children were six all through first grade and some of their classmates were turning eight.

eta: I've never make a fuss about what level books he reads. But I know he thinks about it. e.g. He is perfectly happy reading MTH at home. But if we are going to be around others (like taking a book to an appointment waiting room or reading a book at the library) he will take a higher level book. It breaks my heart that he is so worried about what other people think. (He is like this in all aspects of his life...not just reading.)

farrarwilliams
11-16-2013, 09:53 PM
It is so difficult for me to know at what point there is a problem since there is such a wide range of 'normal'. I was shocked so many of his first grade classmates had read the Harry Potter books. To me, that seems so advanced. But then, my children were six all through first grade and some of their classmates were turning eight.

Ugh. Redshirting is throwing everyone's expectations for a loop. :(

dbsam
11-16-2013, 10:06 PM
Ugh. Redshirting is throwing everyone's expectations for a loop. :(
Yes



edited to remove my little rant.:(

Fairielover
11-17-2013, 01:36 PM
Captain Underpants got my son reading. Before that he was not interested at all.