Saturday, May 28, 2005

Raising a Non-Reader

I was reading on Deirde Knight's blog about her daughter and reading and then read in the comments about everyone else's reading children... it was an odd experience for me because my daughter doesn't read. Not that she can't read. She can. But she chooses not to whenever possible.

For those of you don't know, I homeschool my kids. Always have. Always will. Most of my best friends don't and I could care less. Personal choice. Anyway... One of the highlights of my life was teaching my son to read. It was so fast! Books and writing is obviously a part of our lives, a huge part. I am first and foremost, a reader. Our house was literacy rich, I had taken college courses on the subject and their entire childhood was filled with books, reading, story telling and letters. My son loves to read and at fifteen it is a joy to talk to him about books.

But my Meggy wasn't interested. Could care less. She drew, she danced, she painted, she cleaned her room, but she did not read. Oh no. Her rention is poor unless it is a song or a movement. I tried several different methods. I started getting a stinking suspicion that she was dyslexic. I brought in the experts. Sure enough. So she learned to read, but it was a chore. She has no interest in the world outside her own little world which she paints bright with colors and sunshine.

But what is it like for a mother who writes to have a child who hates to read? Especially since I homeschool her? Painful. Hard. For a long time I beat myself up, wondering if I had done things differently if things would be different. If I had sent her to school, would she love to read? But that's stupid. Many children with the same problems go to school, learn less about reading and come out of it with poor self esteem because they are in remedial classes.

So I have come to some conclusions about things. Not everyone is meant to go to college. Not everyone is academically smart. So she doesn't like to read. So she has little intellectual curiousity. I can tell you what she is:
  • Kind. She wants people to be genuinely happy.
  • Organized. At fourteen, she has a calendar and keeps it up. She cleans better than I do, organizes better than I do and has an amazing sense of what goes where.
  • Self Confident. As a figure skater she knows exactly what she wants. As a young woman she is pretty self assured about her own looks, her own sense of style and taste and where she is going in life.
  • Artistic. She can decorate a room better than anyone I know.
  • Multi talented. She is a perfectionist and can caulk a sink, change the oil in a car, bake cookies better than Mrs. Smith, fix a lamp, and refinish a dresser.
  • Funny. The child loves I love Lucy and does a mean rendition of the Vegameatavitamin bit. She also adores musicals like Oklahoma and My Fair Lady. Because of her skating she also loves opera. She listens to Josh Groban and Gwen Stephani with equal passion.

When I was down with the brain tumor, she took care of everything... the house, the critters, her brother (a year older) and the cooking. And this was two years ago when the child was 12! Like I said, so what if she doesn't like to read much. I still make her read some of the books she should read, but I try not to make her feel bad about not liking to read. She wants to be a figure skating coach and a personal fitness trainer.

Not everyone is going to be talented at the same things.... the world needs young women like my daughter as well as they need us intellectual types.

But coming to that revelation has been quite a journey for me, I can tell you!

5 comments:

Shannon McKelden said...

Isn't it funny that we, as avid readers, sometimes just cannot understand that not everyone enjoys it as we do? Everyone is different. My husband doesn't read, unless you count Jeep magazines and the TV guide. :-) My dad NEVER read fiction...until he hit about 45 or 50 years old, and now you can't stop him. (Drives me crazy telling me all about books I don't have time for!). My friend has three kids...the 15yo boy LOVES to read, the 12yo girl and 11yo only pick up books when they have to. I don't think you can make someone enjoy reading. Sounds like your daughter is more visual and physical in her interests.

Plus, as proved by my father, just because she doesn't read now, doesn't mean she never will. And, even if she doesn't ever enjoy reading, she sounds like an awesome kid and you have every right to be totally proud of her!!

Shannon

Bonnie Ferguson said...

Sounds like she is a fantastic daughter Teri :)

Jana J. Hanson said...

My husband doesn't read either. He's more of an audio book person (which puts me right to sleep). His mother has already left her serious collection of books to me because neither one of her children are readers (at least not like she and I.)

And what an amazing girl you have!!! How proud you must be!

SavvyChick said...

Homeschooling the offspring? You are a braver gal than I Gunga Din! Your daughter is lovely and your pride shows. She sounds like a gem and she'll read what she wants, when she wants. Can't wait to hear what the book is that finally gets her into reading. It will surprise us all! At least she isn't reading your stuff and critiquing it for you....lol

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