Monday, April 05, 2010

Reading, or, Like Mother, Like Sons

I learned to read by myself even before I went to school. I was six, but at that time, most children in Brazil went to first grade when they were seven, that's when they learned to read. At six years old some children went to what they called "pre-school" and which consisted mostly of playing and school readiness activities. Two years ago the educational system changed in Brazil and now children go to the new first grade when they turn six years old (or, in private schools on the year they turn six).

My mom bought me a reading "primer" which I read before going to bed, but family legend has it that I really "learned" to read at the breakfast table, which was where/when reading really "clicked" for me. I began by spelling "oats" in Portuguese (a-v-e-i-a) and then putting it all together, aveia. From then on, I read, and read, and read some more. I was a lonely child (I was trying to find a link to the post I wrote about this, I'll include it later if I find it), so I read a lot. Even after we moved from the countryside to the huge city of São Paulo when I was 13 and I made many friends, I still read constantly -- about a book a day on 7th and 8th grades. Less in high school when I was studying all day long and very little for pleasure in college. Then, I read next to nothing of my own choice in graduate school :-(. Let's just say that there's an endless backlog of books that I've wanted to read for years, but haven't had time yet.

So... if there was one thing I wanted more than anything for my sons was that they liked to read and enjoyed books as much as I do and did. I surrounded them with books from infancy (something not hard for a passionate scholar and collector of children's books) and read to them. I couldn't wait for them to start reading. Kelvin learned to read easily back in kindergarten, and although he was good I never pushed him to start reading too much on his own. He's always been a great reader, and can read out loud with fluency and great expression. Now that he's eight and in second grade, all of a sudden I realized that he was often reading, so I began to give him longer books and he just devoured them! He read Roald Dahl's Matilda in one afternoon and one morning. 200+ pages! Then I bought The Chronicles of Narnia for us, which I never read growing up, and he's already read three books. I'm just thrilled!!

Last, but not least, I'm delighted to inform you that Linton -- who has been an enthusiastic book lover from babyhood, always sitting quietly with books for a long time -- just began to read on his own too! He's a good reader, already reading with expression, although I have to help him with his intonation at the end of sentences. Of course he hasn't even finished kindergarten, so he reads quite slowly, stopping to sound out each letter (that's so cute!) when it's not a word he's already familiar with. I'm sure he'll be reading independently soon.

And here's a question for those of you who are fan of the Narnia books -- how did you like the films? I'm going to get the first one from Netflix in the next few days and I can't wait to watch it! I had never read the books and I'm enjoying them very much and it's great to talk about them with Kelvin!


Libby said...

I actually like the movie of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe better than the book. (I know, heresy, right?) I'm not as crazy about the second one (Prince Caspian), but then, it's not as good a book, either. The beginning of LWW the movie is a little intense, so be forewarned--it takes place in wartime London and it gets scary there for a bit. But all is well in the end, as you know!

Aliki2006 said...

I LOVED (and still do) the Narnia books. I also really liked the film of the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I haven't seen the second film. I actually really like Prince Caspian, and it's always been one of my favorites. Maybe I'm a little afraid to watch it!

kate said...

The first time I saw the LWW movie I found it pretty disturbing-- first the London scenes mentioned above, and then the whole battle scene in Narnia. It really bothered me to see children arming themselves for battle with real weapons. The second time around it didn't bother me as much (and I don't think it would bother kids, just a mom!)