Thursday, January 7, 2010

give and take

When I was eight years old, my family flew to Colorado for a wedding/vacation. My parents will tell the story this way: There we were, driving up to the Rocky Mountains, in all their majestic glory, and what are our girls doing? Reading. We have to tell them to put their books down and look out the window! AT THE MOUNTAINS! We live in the flattest place on earth, and they showed no interest at all in these enormous, beautiful mountains before us. They looked up, "Oh, that's nice," and stuck their noses right back in their books.

That is how it happened. And my parents weren't disappointed that we were reading, just amazed at our lack of amazement. You know?

Now, I don't know about my sister, but I was reading Heidi. So really, I was already in the mountains. I had been living in the mountains for days as I poured over those pages; I didn't really need to see them outside of my imagination at that point, as they were quite real to me already.

I have always treasured books, and so it pains me to write this next sentence: Punkin wants nothing to do with story time anymore. The child who used to snuggle up every night for God Made You Nose to Toes and cart around Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? just throws Where's Spot at the wall when I ask him to read. WHO THROWS WHERE'S SPOT?

Not the son of an English major, that's who! (Have you noticed that an English major will always indentify herself as an English major rather than someone who majored in English? Or is that just me? We are such a different breed.)

Feeling frustrated, I gave up for a long time. Every once in a while I could draw his interest to a book that was based on a movie -- like when he was perseverating on Ratatouille. So I bought the Chicka Chicka Boom Boom DVD from Scholastic because he does like that book, figuring that if he saw it on the magical black box, he might learn to LOVE the book and some of the other stories on the DVD.

Now, we don't need any more books. We have so many books I don't have room for them on the shelf. Books are piled in our closets. BUT I WILL TAKE MORE BOOKS. I will buy more books, especially from Scholastic. They're so cheap.

So we watched the Chicka Chicka Boom Boom DVD and it kinda worked. So I bought the Giggle Giggle Quack DVD (which he liked) and at first he didn't buy it -- even when I held the book up to the television and pleaded, "Same, same, same?! Look. The same! Duck! It's the duck!"

"No. No duck. Watch a movie."

Finally, I just felt a fire inside me and decided we ARE reading a book before bed and he WILL sit and listen and it IS going to be a fun experience and by golly he will LEARN TO LIKE IT! So I picked him up and plopped him on his bed and I read Giggle Giggle Quack in the best impression I could of the guy on the video, who I'm pretty sure is Jeff Foxworthy, and the book ended up in my face.

I did it again the next night, though, and this time I let him hold something he liked. Pretty soon he started paying attention. He didn't LOVE it, he tolerated it. But his very favorite book -- The Very Hungry Caterpillar -- is another one we have on video. He even helps finish the sentences when I read it. Warms my bookworm heart! And I'll take what I can get, which usually isn't much.

Usually, this is how we read books: I sit on the bed reading quietly while Punkin holds his car collection and tumbles on the mattress; sometimes glancing at a picture, sometimes not. I am often kicked in the face. But we read it several nights in a row, because new things are scary and once you do it a second time it's not as new or scary anymore. Get it? I know, so logical.

This past week I have managed to catch his interest with Llama Llama Red Pajama. The first two nights were pretty ugly -- "NO LLAMA! NO! I FROWED IT! NO!" But by the third night I was really getting into it and starting to ham it up. Since we don't have this one on video, I figured it needed to be acted out, and it helped a lot. So when Baby Llama whined for his mama, so did I. When he stomped, I pounded the bed; when Mama Llama kissed Baby, I kissed Punkin. And pretty soon I had him mesmerized.

I do sometimes miss the cuddles, but this new approach to books where the stories come alive outside of our minds is fun and exciting for me, too. And the giggles out of that boy --let's just say they're worth the bruises.


Kristiem10 said...

Nice! My kids are not book lovers, either. This hurts my heart, and I am a bookworm. And sometimes they tear. the. books. This is like book blasphemy! I always tell them we must be nice to books, but they think not. Maybe I should try your approach.

Anonymous said...

oh- how fun! I think I have the CD for the book Llama Llama Red Pajama at school. Let me know if you want me to burn it for you! Pam

KC's Mama said...

Awesome! My son too used to be a regular visitor in my lap for a night time story, but lately he wants to just "read it" himself. (He is 3) I so miss him cuddling up for story time! Llama Llama books are great too. There are a couple of others too, such as Llama Llama Mad at Mama and Llama Llama Misses Mama.
I think maybe I will try your tactic. Who knows? It could work. :)


Punkin's Oma said...

I miss my girls cuddling with me while I read to them.

sarah said...

Yay! I'm glad you figured out a way to capture his attention! :)

(I, too, say "English major", unless I'm talking about both of my majors: then it's "majored in art and English".)

Laura said...

This post made my eyes tear up!