My 11 year old son is a classic case of the fruit that fell far away from the tree. The tree here being his mother. Whilst his mother has had a life time love affair with books, he seemed to hate the very sight of them.
His aversion to books probably started, as with children like him, when school started becoming tough right after the kindergarten. He hated doing home work, hated doing school work and hated having to stare into any space that required him to scan anything into his memory for future reference. We, his parents, have bought so many books just to get him to read that we have actually bought some books twice. Sometimes when I buy a book and insist that he reads it, the book mysteriously disappears and nothing I do or say will make it appear.
Once I found a small encyclopaedic book which he became attached to for sometime until he had gone through most of the interesting facts and then we were back to square one. Other times, he gets a book which he seems to like and just when my hopes begin to rise, he looses interest. He even starts reading comic books and abandons them half way through.
Then a miracle happened about three weeks ago. While browsing through the books section in a mall, I came across a series of books all by the same author and all starting with the words ” WILL SOLVIT…” Thinking I had nothing to loose, I picked up some of the titles that sounded better than the others. I was later to find out from him that they are numbered and I picked mine at random. His father simply asked why I bothered to buy new ones when the rest were there unread?
We got home and I gave him the books. He collected them without any ceremony and went to his room.
The next morning, I called him to go with me on an outing and to my utter shock, he came along with a Will Solvit!
He read on the way, he read on the bus, he read when we stopped at traffic lights and read on our way back home. By the time we got back home, I was literarily shaking with excitement. I however didn’t want to get my hopes up so I didn’t say anything to him. Then, after just two days, I saw him with a different one. The same pattern of “cant keep it down” repeated itself all over. Within two weeks, he had finished all the books. Then he picked up one of his older books and read that too. Then yesterday, we again went to the bookshop so I could get him the book due to be read at the reading group I registered him in and he went straight to the shelves and started looking for Will Solvits. He found them and of course came with both hands laden with them asking me to buy all. He said only one was missing and he asked the store manager if he could get it for him. The man eagerly took our phone number and promised to send an order for it and to notify us upon its arrival. I asked him to pick only three and then we will get the rest later. We had earlier stopped at another shop where we found miniature versions of all my favourite classics, Huckleberry Finn, Oliver Twist, Tom Sawyer, Frankenstein, Journey to the centre of the Earth and so many others. He eagerly asked me which ones I thought were the most interesting and we ended up picking eight!
On the way back home, his face literally glowed in excitement as I told him how wonderful the adventures of the Famous Five were. I used to tell him all the time but I guess because, he had never really followed a character on a journey from the beginning of a book to the end, he didnt understand how much fun it could be. Now he wants to start the famous five series as soon as Will Solvit finds his lost parents in his very last adventure.
I guess for people who don’t know how frustrating it is to be a book lover and have a child who seemed to hate them so much, this is just making a mounting out of a mole hill. For those who know where I am coming from however, they will understand how brightly the lamp of hope is shining in my heart right now.
I intend to write a personal thank you note to Zed Storm, the author of these miracle series that have turned my son’s life around. I have never seen him this enthusiastic about any book before.
I pray that this pattern continues when we start the famous five series too. After that, I hope we can start another one of my all time favourites, The Five Find Outters by Enid Blyton. I have some of them in e form but I will just let him go with the physical ones. They are infinitely much more interesting. After all, nothing beats walking on the road and reading snatches from a favourite story right?