Friday, May 24, 2024

Zac Is a Reader!

Zac's birthday was yesterday; he's newly 9! It has been great fun this school year watching him become a reader.

I'm a firm believer in the Waldorf method, so I don't push reading. I would much rather have kids discover it on their own and feel like it has been a joyful adventure. I didn't say anything to him at all about the alphabet in PK or Kindy. Not even the alphabet song. We just kept it strictly play-based.

June 2018, age 3

In 1st grade I introduce the Capital Letters and the kids focus on learning to write words and make their own books. In 2nd grade I introduce the Lowercase Letters and we partner-read The Magic Belt and Totem together on the staircase while the older children have SSR. There are more sets of these decodable books by Phonics Books and I highly recommend them!

At the start of this year Zac wanted something that felt like a "real book" so instead of starting Talisman 1 he went through a bunch of vintage early reader titles with satisfyingly heavy covers... including the "See and Read" series and "The Story of" books by Robert McClung.

By March he was coming to me for a Reading Meeting every few days, so I started looking around for what else I had that was designed for a newly confident reader. (Even when you can sound out a lot of words, you need largish print and a lot of white space on a page. Visual tracking is its own separate skill!) Enter Jake Drake.

It was when we got to the Jake Drake books by Andrew Clements that I really feel like Zac became a reader.

Before Jake Drake my child was reading because he was supposed to. Part of school, have to do it.

With Jake Drake, he was reading because he wanted to. He was begging me to buy the other books in the series, he was staying up late at night with his bedroom light secretly on so he could keep reading, he was offering to read passages to me, he was making comments aloud as he read. These are not my favorite books because they are about problems with life in public school -- and I don't want to vilify public school -- but he loved them and that was what mattered. Everytime I turned around, my child's nose was in a book.

After Jake Drake he got EXTREMELY into The Boxcar Children (I read the first book to the class at lunchtime, hoping someone would get interested in the series, and it worked!) and he has read over 30 titles and asked for more for his birthday. Zac has also enjoyed Judy Blume (Freckle Juice), Roald Dahl (Esio Trot, George's Marvelous Medicine), Sid Fleischman (The Whipping Boy), and Ruth Stiles Gannett (Three Tales of My Father's Dragon).

It's so amazing how your home changes when your child becomes a reader. The house is silent for hours at a time because they are reading. Not a peep out of them; they are deep in the magical world of books. I remember my girls being like this and now it's so fun that that door has opened for Zac.

Now he is reading the Eddie books by Carolyn Haywood. They are laugh out loud funny and he just loves them! They are wholesome old-fashioned adventures for boys. Unlike Haywood's "B" is for Betsy books, many of which are still in print, the Eddie Wilson books are harder to find. But I think they are well worth tracking down. Note: eBay is often cheaper than Amazon.

Here are all of the titles in the series:


The last three trail away in quality and we won't be reading them.
#14 - Eddie's Menagerie (1978)
#15 - Merry Christmas from Eddie (1986)
#16 - Eddie's Friend Boodles (1991)

My favorites are the early ones, that are both written and illustrated by Carolyn Haywood, and they maintain the same fun lighthearted tone.

Just a note that Merry Christmas from Eddie is actually a compilation of all the Christmas chapters from many books, here published together. She did the same with Merry Christmas from Betsy.

What was the book (or series) that turned your child into a reader?

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