Monday, March 15, 2010

Read what your kid's reading

My son’s copy of Percy Jackson has two bookmarks in it—his and mine.

We’re both reading it. Not only is it a great series and a lot of fun to read, but I’m realizing there are huge benefits to reading what he’s reading.

The best part is catching those really subtle teaching moments. For instance, part of the third book takes place in the Smithsonian, which we visited last year. So I’ll be able to talk to him about that. To me, that’s a great learning extension.

If I hadn’t been reading the book, I’d never have known about that opportunity.

Also, having read the book I know there are a lot of Greek names that are pronounced very differently from the way they’re spelled. I was able to tell him the correct pronunciations.

And I can judge for myself how scary the book is, given my son’s tolerance for certain types of scariness. For instance, you can hack the limbs off a monster all you like and it won’t bother my son. But show a little “portent” or foreshadowing, and he’s gonna have nightmares all week. Which explains why Voldemorte never bothered him, but he couldn’t sit through the evil queen’s threats in Cinderella 2.

Of course, you’re not going to want to read everything your kid reads. Nothing’s going to entice me to read the Scooby-Doo series, no matter what the benefits. So it helps to have a great children’s book reviewer you know and trust.

But if you can, pick up what your kid’s reading. It’s worth the effort.

The hardest part is finding time to read it, when he’s not reading it. I’ve found that the best strategy is to wait until he… falls… asleep… and then take the book out of his hands. Then I can read it for an hour or so before I go to sleep. Sneaky.


Jen Robinson said...

I've always been a big fan of this strategy, Joyce. Thanks for recommending it.

Tidy Books said...

Will have to keep my eye on these books as my son's reading develops. And I think it is a great prospect to actually be reading the same book as my boy, and not just because he is reading it.

Joyce Grant said...

Thanks, Jen! I always appreciate your comments.

Tidy Books: I'm filing anything about books under the category "great books" so you can refer to them there when your son's a bit older. In the meantime, you may want to check out the superhero books in the great books category on my blog. They're suitable for even very young/beginner readers - they're kind of substitutes for comic books.
Please let me know what you think!

Dawn Riccardi Morris said...

My son loved those books, too. I haven't had a chance to read them yet, though.

It's a great idea to keep up with what older children are reading. Movies and museum trips - what a way to connect in a very real way!

One of my favorite book/museum connections is "From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler," by E.L. Konigsburg, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan. It was a great summer experience for us. Thanks for the memory!