With Children, Persist, Persist, Persist

I’m not a traditional mom. I’m awesome in certain things but my husband plays the mommy role in certain instances.

However, my message here is about persistence. I love to read. Books are an important source of information, they are fun, they allow one to slip into an imaginary world and it’s how I’m able to deal with some of the stresses in life. My kids, both of them, were not keen on reading. As a matter of fact, they wanted to avoid it at all cost. I explained the benefits: it makes French and English classes a breeze, it expands your vocabulary, it allows your imagination to be set free. But this fell on deaf ears.

But, every time they came home with a bad grade (or what I deem to be an insufficiently good grade), I would insist this would never have happened if they got into the habit of reading. I have been saying the same thing for years.I did not think I was getting through.

But I was.

Ben started by reading comic books with almost no words. I was not happy but I did not complain. Ok, to be honest, I complained a little. But I bought him some Geronimo Stilton books. One per week. He read them all. We read them together and eventually, he read them alone.

Eventually, he read the  Wimpy Kid books. I suggested he move on to the Nate books. He did not like the English version but soon got used to it. When he’s bored, I would suggest he could read a book.

And now, he’s reading Jules Verne. The level of language in that book is tremendously rich and some of the expressions are quite dated. We read it partially together, he reads it alone as well. He asked me if he could take the book to school because there were some free periods where he might have time to read. It’s a huge undertaking for an 11-year old. But he’s doing it of his own free will. He’s choosing to read Jules Verne.

Because I persisted, I never gave up and I did not allow myself to get discouraged. And we’re talking about a very active young man, not prone to sitting and reading. With Jules Verne, I insisted on the fact that he was the father of modern science fiction.

With my daughter, she always wants new stuff. Buy me a new shirt, Buy me a new skirt, a new dress. Buy, Buy, Buy! I said no. But I will buy you a new book. She gets scared by the size of a book. It can’t be too big. She reads by spurts. She’s read two big books in the past two weeks but, then, she might be tempted not to read further for a while. But I’ll keep at it. Like the ocean to the coast. She’ll want something new. I’ll offer to take her to the bookstore, we’ll take the time for her to find books that she wants to read and she’ll read the books. Emilie read the Drama book in less than a day.

The same persistence allowed us to stick to our routine of vegetarian Thursdays and fish Monday nights. The fish is not limited to fish sticks. So, my message to you, fellow parents is: do not give up. Even if it seems like you’re talking to a wall. With kids, the walls have ears. And the more about you talk about the benefits i.e. fish as brain food, vegetarian day as a relief day for the planet due to the high carbon footprint of protein, books to make school easier. The key is to suggest and to let them think it was their idea. That they came to this idea on their own and that you had nothing to do with it.

At supper time, I will typically discuss the book I am reading or an article I read in the paper. Now, the kids have even started perusing the morning paper. For example, following the Boston Marathon, they followed the events leading to the arrest quite closely.

I’m far from a perfect mother. But, somethings are extremely important to me, and for these things I stick to my guns and I refuse to back down. My kids will thank me for that one day.

Did you get your kids interested in books? Which books did you use?


4 thoughts on “With Children, Persist, Persist, Persist

  1. I learned to read very early, TG for Sesame Street. I did not read though. I read some children books in my youth. In my teens until age twenty I read what I had to read for school, on my spare time I read the Astérix collection.
    I started to read a lot when I discovered self-help author Og Mandino. I read almost his entire collection in a flash. Upwards of fourteen books, I reckon. I read about as many similar books after his.
    Even today I do not like reading, unless it is factual. Self-Help is factual, spirituality is factual, chemistry, physics are factual… I would read a chemistry textbook right now. Some stories are great, I have tried reading some with no luck. I tried reading the Hobbit, got through half of it. I tried reading H Potter Order of le Phénix, got through most of it. I liked the movies though. I still want to read Jean Jacques Rousseau’s du contrat Social. It is apparently a tough read, in ancient français. I just think he was on to something in that book, and I want to get the gist of it. JJ, hitnak fit dagoo ataru.
    Get me a physics texbook right now though!

  2. Hi Gibran,
    Reading is reading whether one reads magazines, text books, self-help books, newspapers or comic strips. Sooner or later, you end up finding what fits for you. Like the perfect shoe. The same is true for kids. You need to keep trying, eventually, they will find the right kind of reading material for them. We just need to give them time to figure it out.

The floor is now open, you have the mike

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