Aug 27 2010
My kids are pretty good readers, in that they enjoy sitting down and reading, you know, when they have to. Or when Mommy hid the Legos and Barbies. OK, I don’t do that — those legos are very small and difficult to pick up, you know, and when I pick up Barbie, I am overpowered by the need to style her hair.
So no, seriously, they do enjoy books and have always enjoyed books. Jocelyn has taken to reading in a scary way this past kindergarten year, and many the time James and I have looked at each other with eyes wide and said, “Did she really just read ‘Transcendentalism?’” I know you’re not supposed to compare your children, but dude! She is *way* better at reading at this age than Ethan was at this age!
Reading has been a little trickier for Ethan, mostly because he prefers to look at the first letter of a word and then take a while guess if he doesn’t know it, rather than, you know, that pesky sounding it out and all. This however, hasn’t dampened his love of reading at all, and this past 2nd grade year when the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” movie came out and the craze swept the elementary school, he read through all three books within, and I swear I’m not making this up, 15 minutes.* There just may have been a few words in there that he took wild stabs at, and when asked, he has no idea of the names of the characters — this is due, I’m sure, to just not having heard them said out loud.** Don’t worry. He can tell you word for word the fart joke told by said character.
*OK, I made that up.
** This coming from a person who pronounced, in her head, the word ‘gigantic’ as “guy-gan-tick” all the way up into jr high because she had only seen it spelled. Not judging here!
I have actually totally longed for this. I have always had a great love of books, and growing up, always had a book in my hand or in my backpack waiting to be in my hand. I devoured children’s literature and then young adult literature and never really outgrew any of it. I still have many of my books from my teenage years on my shelves, and steadfastly refuse to get rid of them — especially not NOW, not when we’re RIGHT ON THE CUSP of our own children being able to READ them!!
A lot of my favorite books are geared a tad more for girls than boys, Noel Streatfield with her “Shoe” books (Ballet Shoes, Dancing Shoes, Skating Shoes are my top 3), Frances Hodgeson Burnett with “The Little Princess” and “The Secret Garden” and of course the complete works of Lucy Maud Montgomery, of “Anne of Green Gables” fame. Jocelyn, while a great kindergarten reader, is still a few years away from these.
But there are plenty children’s books that would be perfect for Ethan, and for years James and I would say, “Is he old enough for X?” “No, probably not quite yet.” And so we’ve stuck with the Junie B and Magic School Bus, and Nate the Great. Oh and Star Wars, let’s not forget the 1,472 Star Wars EZ readers that grace our shelves.
Until we introduced Harry Potter.
We drove out to Utah in June, a decision that must have been made in delirium for all the sense it made. My brother and his family were going out, and when 1 member of a 6 sibling family decides to go visit (that’s right! I am the 2nd youngest of 6 children!), a mob mentality often kicks in and other siblings will try to make it as well. We didn’t really have the time to go for very long, which makes this decision to DRIVE TO UTAH even MORE daft, but there you have it. We drove to Utah, spent 4 days, and then drove back. That was 6 days of driving, for 4 days in Utah. Like I said. A decision made in delirium.
Another decision I made, which actually turned out OK, was to forego the portable DVD player. It always has cords everywhere and switching DVDs is a pain and Jocelyn always gets bored of it after 10 minutes anyway. We didn’t forego movies all together, we just skipped the VISUAL of movies. I played movies from my ipod over the car’s audio instead. They have all the movies pretty much memorized anyway, so it worked out fine. I think I did hand over my phone once or twice to let someone who was particularly irritable watch a movie to “just watch this and quit asking Mommy where the hotel is already!”
It was when we were about a day away from Utah that we decided to put in the audio version of Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone. At first, we had no cooperation from the pipsquirts in the back seat.
“Mom, there’s a MOVIE of this.” Ethan informed me.
“Yeah, so?” I replied.
“Don’t you know, it’s better to WATCH something than to have to READ. You can see it better in a MOVIE.”
Oh, words have never cut me to the heart quicker! Luckily, I think he’s since seen the error of his ways.
“Have you seen the movie?” I asked gingerly.
“Parts of it. At daycare.” he replied.
I’ve shielded him from my favorites all this time only for him to catch parts of it at daycare? Oh, my tattered heart! Next someone will just show Jocelyn the good parts of The Last Unicorn!
We listened to Harry Potter, and the kids slowly grew more enthusiastic and enthralled in the story. We listened as the troll almost got Hermione, and Harry got troll bogies (British for boogers! See, it’s educational!). We learned how to “swish and FLICK!” and of course, “ALOHAMORA!” and witnessed a dragon being hatched in Hagrid’s hut — Ethan and Jocelyn went from bored to tears to on the edge of their seats. We reached the beginning of the climactic ending of the first book late at night in the car, and I stopped the tape and informed everyone we’d listen to the ending the NEXT day, as I didn’t want to worry about Jocelyn waking up at 3am being scared. (The girl has watched The Nightmare before Christmas over 100 times, but you never know how she might react to something scary for the first time.)
There was MUCH protesting and whining and promises to not be scared, promise! Which was a far cry from when we had started the book! We finished it the next day, re-listened to bits and pieces whenever we were in the car through our days in Utah, and then went through book 2 on the way home.
That was in June. Since we got home, Ethan has commandeered the CDs to book 2 (we only have book 1 on tape) and has been playing them NONSTOP. The second we get in the car and before I even have my seatbelt fastened, it’s, “Mom, can you turn on Harry Potter?” I will pause it to ask how something went and it’s, “Mom, can you turn on Harry Potter?” We get home and second Ethan’s set down his bag he’s turned on Harry Potter. At night after reading time, he goes to sleep listening to Harry Potter. And in the morning? How I know he’s awake? He’s downstairs playing legos and … you guessed it. Listening to Harry Potter.
I think since June, we listened to book 2 approximately 1 meeeeellion times. You know. Approximately.
Now, let me make sure this is clear. I love Harry Potter. I’ve purchased the books the minute they were released and read them in 24 hours. I’ve seen every Harry Potter movie. James and I even attended a midnight party for the release of book seven. I even listened to a Harry Potter podcast for a while! Sh*t, JAMES AND I listen to Harry Potter when WE fall asleep and have for YEARS!
All this and I never thought I would ever say these words….
I am totally SICK of Harry Potter!
Ethan has even started to read through book one each night during our “reading time” — OK in my book, even though he’s heard it on tape already. We own the movie to the Sorceror’s Stone, which has been on repeat as well, mostly on the weekends.
Finally, in response to book 2 brain overload (it’s been playing every day since JUNE!) I ordered books 3 and 4 on CD so we can listen to them as well, and got Netflix to deliver the book 2 movie. Maybe now we can finish up our Harry Potter summer without Mommy and Daddy going batsh*t crazy
I only hope that this is only the beginning, and someday Ethan and Jocelyn will be just as nutty over some of my other favorite books as well.
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