Monday, August 31, 2009

I've Created an Addict...

I've created an addict, a book glutton, a wordaholic... and I am unapologetic.

I started spoon feeding him books when he was barely 6 weeks of age. Truth be told this was not done out of some teacher notion of what would benefit him, but out of pure desperation. He was unsettled and I was...unsettled. Something about the language in books was soothing. A rocking chair by the window and a handful of board books seemed like good things to have when he was screaming and I was crying.

Then I discovered another use for all the picture books I'd religiously collected during my five years teaching the under fives. My son loved them. Two before nap time was not enough. So we increased the dosage to unashamed levels. Books when he woke, books while he ate finger food in the high chair, books in the car, books if he went potty, books before bed and then just books for the sake of books. We shared them together, under rugs, by lamp lights, next to the beach and, on one occasion, while he was getting a needle at the doctors.

By three he had such an affection for The Poky Little Puppy, that we all thought we might be physically ill if we heard him recite it again.

By four he wanted to 'read' every written thing we came across. Shops signs, street advertising, junk mail, words on the side of cereal boxes, even the tags on his clothes were not exempt.

By five he discovered that words were reliable little things that said the same thing, in the same way, every time you read the same sentence. He exploited this knowing and without my knowledge taught himself the alphabet and enough sight words to render the prep teacher's job (kindergarten if you are in the USA) a task already completed.

By six we had a problem. Picture books didn't cut it any more. Take home readers from first grade were read too quickly and that left, what....? Beginning chapter books? Enter reading suggestions from a friend with older boy children who are also book addicts.

Zac Power has come to live with us this year. Don't know him? He is saving the world people! One word, sentence and chapter at a time. He is not, however, saving my money. My son loves him and his adventures... a whole lot. And is chewing those books at the rate of one every three days. We have come to an agreement. One new book each Friday....if he behaves himself at school. So there might have been a few occasions where he had to re-read last week's book. (Are we the only parents using books to bribe, um, reward our child?!)

In short, I have created an addict. A boy who loves to read... almost as much as he loves to kick his soccer ball up on our roof.

I think on the whole, my work here is done.

What about you?
Got any budding little addicts in your house? And if so, what are you currently reading them?


  1. Oh my gosh! That is SO wonderful Tabitha! Go you. :-) No, I wish my kids were that into books, but I'll confess that I didn't read to them like that. I hope when mine are older that they love reading that much.

  2. I wish there were. My daughter doesn't seem to have enough patience with books. She does try to read them by herself and make up the stories from illustrations, but gets tired when I read to her.

  3. Isaac loves reading a book called "The Beach" he loves getting the younger 2 kids to sit down and he reads it to them. He even read to the Kindy Class. He does have a couple of other books he reads as well. And yes we have to read EVERYTHING. Save those Zac books for Isaac. LOL

  4. Wooooooo Hooooooo! You Rock. I have completely failed in this respect. When we go to the book store my girls want toys. I think the twilight series were the fist books my teen actually read without griping. I try to read to them, but the pushy broads I'm rearing rip the books out of my hands and re-tell the stories... (or critique them)

    I wish.... maybe later, when they grow up. Maybe.

  5. Those of you who have children who don't like to read yet, take heart. Our daughter struggled to learn to read, and as a result, for the longest time never opened a book voluntarily. Finally, when she was a "tween" a juvenile romance written by an acquaintence of mine appeared at our home. Suprisingly, she decided to read it. And reread it. And read it again, and yes, again. Finally, we took a trip to the library and she's been hooked ever since. At sixteen she checks out two or three books each week that she devours in days. Seeing her joy at reading a book now makes every bit of the worry and wait worth it.

  6. No little ones at home anymore, Tabitha, but you sound like a great mom. What an addiction to create in a child.
    By the way, my email is if you want to write.

  7. My kids are older, but my daughter has always loved to read. She's reading Jodi Picoult now. My sons, well, they're a different story. Unless you count reading the sports section of the newspaper, they aren't big readers.

  8. I think you may have an answer the publishing question of why boys don't read--perhaps they need a parent who shares the love of books with them from the earliest age, so that it is as natural and organic to turn pages as it is to swing a bat. Congratulations on a job well done! (I don't mean to disparage any parent who tried without success to get their sons to read)
    There is an in-depth discussion of the gender issue in children's lit that's been going on all week at HATTIE BIG SKY author Kirby Larson's blog. Anyone interested in scrolling back through it--

  9. That's awesome, Tabitha! What an incredible gift, to have a son who loves to read!

    My mom had the same problem with me. As a child, we had the same argument every time we went to the library: "Mom, I'll finish reading all of these books WAY before we come back! I need more!"

    "No, Kristen, 20 is enough for two weeks!"

    May you have similar conversations with your children!

  10. Books as reward. I don't think there's a better thing possible. Do your schools offer book orders? It's Scholastic here - lots of great reading material for really good prices. What a fun post to read!

  11. That's so great your son loves to read. That's a wonderful, HEALTHY way to bribe him. My oldest daughter likes the Babysitter chapter books but doesn't enjoy reading as much as I would like. She does, however, like music, which is fine by me. My youngest can't read yet but she likes listening to stories. When she was smaller and wouldn't be soothed as easily, I'd walked around with her or sit with her and read her whatever I had on my nightstand at the moment. Usually the middle of some inspirational novel. Not exactly a children's book. But I did all the voices and everything so it was more fun :D

  12. I love to get my kids on board with my addictions lol. It eases the pain.

  13. Thanks for the great advice re: author Zac Power. My family just finished reading a couple of books by Mary Ann Hoberman, "You Read to Me, I'll Read to You." My entire family enjoyed because we all took turns reading the book. My children also enjoying playing a board game we created call Er-u-di-tion which helps children retain sight words and learn the letters of the alphabet and basic phonic sounds.

  14. I plan on breeding book addicts (when I breed that is...). When I was a little kid I learned to read by following my mom around asking what words were as we went until I knew them. I was such an addict, and so proud when I read my first chapter book in one day. I remember that, although not what book. I bet I could read it in an hour now, although back then I sat reading all day long and wouldn't even come to the dinner table till I got to the end of the chapter I was on.
    I haven't changed much, either.

  15. I don't have kids but when I was a kid I was a reading addict. I remember the adults trying to get me to go outside and play when all I wanted to do was read!

  16. Yay! I'm thrilled you have a reader on your hands. Your job is done!

  17. If you want a great fantasy novel for children and YA, "Gateway to DreamWorld," is a must. Here is a short synopsis of the story:

    On their way home from baseball tryouts, Brad Colby and his two sons are involved in a terrible car accident that leaves six-year-old Pete in a coma. When Pete awakens, the family is crushed to learn that he is paralyzed.

    Meanwhile, Pete’s eight-year-old brother, Jason, has been having powerful dreams that lead him to a mysterious realm known as DreamWorld. Jason discovers that all of his desires can come true in DreamWorld, but the time is fast approaching when he will have to choose between his two worlds.

    And when more devastating news strikes at the heart of the Colby family, Jason and Pete set out on a desperate attempt to find the Gateway to DreamWorld and save their family. With time running out on their dangerous path, will Jason and Pete’s fear of the Unknown keep them from reaching the paradise of their dreams?

  18. I love it when my children read in THEIR free time. Or when their favorite place to go on Friday night is the library. I know I'm doing something right when those things happen! :)

  19. This post makes me want to go read to my son!

  20. That's great for your son. We need more boy bookaholics out there. My toddler loves books as well, although I think he still selects them based on which one tastes the best, lol.

  21. Thanks all for the comments.

    Katie, I am sure you will :)

    Fiction groupie- yes, I agree. More bookaholics is just what we need :)

    Jody, yes. Me too.

    Melody. LOL. Happy breeding bookaholics then.

    Denise, sorry. Zac Power is not the name of the author, that is the name of the kid that the book is about. I should have written that better. Sorry to confuse you:)

    Cindy, yes we are all for healthy bribes.

  22. T.Anne, good luck with the addicts :)

    Jill, thank you.

    Steph, yes, that was so me as a kid! I just wanted to be left alone so I could climb into my book :)

    Kristen, LOL! 20! Wow!

    Thanks Tricia, I might check that out.

    Lazy writer, when it comes to boys I count anything that is read as being 'reading'. Newspapers count!

    Thanks Karen. sorry,I have been meaning to email. I am grateful for your offer.

    Jess, some kids are more prone to book addictions than others. I don't think it was me as much as my son just loves words. It happens to be his gifting. Maybe we will have another writer in the family?!

    Suzanne, well at least they see a muma who loves to write. You can't have failed in all regards :) And they are going to have to read you when you get in print :)

  23. Came your way via a comment on Kirby Larson's blog. I have to say I LOVE this post. It makes me enormously happy.

    I have a 2-yr-old son and have also read to him tons and tons of books -- daily -- from the time he was tiny (still in the hospital). It wasn't any kind of scheme to increase intelligence, it was and is just that I LOVE picture books and I love stories and he seems to love sharing them with me. We love reading them together.

    Your post offered me a glimpse as to what my son could be like a few years from now (or not, who knows?) and it made me super happy.

    Thanks for sharing and happy reading!

  24. kjersten, thanks so much for your comments. And thank you for visiting. I hope your son turns out to be an addict in all the right and wonderful sense of that word as it relates to books :)

  25. This is fantastic! We have no kids but if we ever did I anticipate this is exactly what would happen. He sounds just like my friend's son who read each Harry Potter book in no more than 2 nights. At age 8 or so. Now another friend with twins reads them at least 3 or 4 books a night & it is the first thing they reach for in a room full of toys. I'll pass this along to her & tell her to get ready for the ride!