The other day a small miracle occurred. You parents of young boys (well,really, any age boys) can appreciate this.As many of you may recall, I have been working to make my 10-year-old son a reader. It really has begun to feel like I am making him become a reader because very little reading was happening voluntarily, that is without the insistence of me or his teacher.
But last week he gets into the car after school and says that his friend gave him a book that he thought my son would like. Okay, that’s the first miracle. His friend, a fellow non-reader, passed along a book! Now, it bears mentioning that the friend did not himself read the book. He just saw the book and knew my son would like it. Interesting right? It’s as if my son’s group of friends are contemplating reading. They know reading is a good thing. They seem to enjoy the books that are required reading at school. But when it comes to reading on their own, they sort of play at it; talk about it; but rarely do it themselves. Funny.
Well, my son LOVES the book. That’s miracle #2! His friend hit the nail on the head because the book is not just about sports, it’s about football. And it’s not just about football, it’s about training for football. And it’s not just about training, it’s about a boy who is trying to achieve football success in the tall shadow of his professional footballer father. My son is obsessed with football and with training and being “in shape”. I catch him lifting his shirt in the mirror to check the status of his “six pack” more than daily! And he, too, feels the weight of his former-college-football-playing older brother and father. Already, in his Pop Warner football league, he is having to contend with the constant comparison to his brother’s legacy.
Thus, my son connects with this book big time! And as a result, he is devouring it like nothing I have ever seen. He also likes the book because it is a little advanced for him, in subject matter and language. Reading it clearly makes him feel a bit more mature.
Sometimes we parents need these little reminders. I often tell parents when I am asked about hesitant readers, that if your child does not like to read yet, he just has not found the right book. This last incident with my son reminds me of how true this is. The challenge is finding that book. Luckily, there are more interesting books available for boys. The key is knowing what your child is into. What are his likes and passions. My son is easy because he really tends to immerse himself in his interests. His siblings think he is a bit obsessive because he lives and breathes his passions. Right now, it’s football. Next week, who knows. The twist here is that I think he especially values this book because his friend picked it out for him. If I brought it home, it might be gathering dust atop the other dusty books I have suggested.
My first thought was to be my usual proactive self and form a reading group for him and his friends. They seem to be right at the cusp of developing a love of reading and I wondered if I could facilitate the process before they get to Middle School. But then I realized that my meddling might mess things up. So instead my son and I will go to the book store and I will suggest that my son find a book that is perfect for his friend. So that he can offer it to the friend and return the favor.
Be warned that the book really is about a kid who decides to take steriods to further his football career and how he has to live with the consequences of his choices. It is a mature theme that not every pre-teen is ready for. Also, the book also has some profanity.