A carrot for non-fiction

I have been trying for eons to interest Andrew in reading anything besides Garfield, Calvin and Hobbes, and Astro Boy.  When all else failed – and I really did try everything – I gave in and began assigning him books to read.  I truly hated to do this, as I never gave any of the Big Three any reading assignments, and I always assumed that what worked well for them would work well for him.  I’ve had a firm conviction that kids – all kids – will read interesting things because they are interesting, and they’ll learn something in the process.  But no.

So for the past four months, Andrew has been dutifully reading the various picture books I have assigned, but he never seems to learn or remember anything from any of them.  This has been quite discouraging to Yours Truly, who, after successfully avoiding the school-at-home mentality for lo, these 12 or so years, daily resents having to “stoop” to it now.

But today, my brain must’ve stormed, because I came up with an idea that seems to have some potential.  I had in a pile on my desk several books Andrew had read in recent days, but which we hadn’t had time to discuss.  Before I took them back to the library tomorrow night, I wanted to make sure that A) he really had read them thoroughly, and B) he remembered SOMETHING out of each one.

I told him to write in his copy book today’s date and the title and author of the first book.  It happened to be about the skeletal system.  Then I asked him to look through the book and quiz me by asking me three questions that he thought would be important or interesting.  I would try to answer them, and then he would write those three facts in his copy book.

We covered four books thusly, and he said, “This is really fun.”  Wow.  Now we both know that adults have 206 bones; that Johnny Appleseed walked through Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana; that the Washington Monument stood unfinished for 25 years; and that Americans consume over a million pound of popcorn each year.

By the way, I missed three of those questions (and a bunch of other ones, too), but I am thrilled for Andrew to point out my many areas of ignorance, if it motivates him to learn.


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