Thursday, August 29, 2013

Charlotte's Web

I have either been educated or have been educating with great literature for the last twenty years. Jadon, as a child, never grew tired of reading. Before he was two, he would sit and listen to books for an hour and a half, until the reader was tired and hoarse. Isaiah, always eager to keep up with Jadon, would listen, too, though he wasn't quite as intent on bringing books to an adult to read.

Abraham has been somewhat interested in books, though his attention span has never been quite so unusual. He began to listen to longer chapter books at age four or five.

But Joe, now five, has been a tough nut to crack. He is happy to bring me multiple picture books daily, ready to listen if he chooses the books. But the idea of a chapter book ... that has been of no interest. The Boxcar Children? Not interested. Gooney Bird Greene? No thanks.

I try to read the picture books he brings as often as he brings them, but after eleven years of picture books, there is a bit of me that longs for slightly more mature plots.

Last night I hit on the idea of Charlotte's Web. I read it to the older boys when they were the ripe ages of five and three. Jadon remembered the story, but Isaiah had no memory. Better, he had not pulled it off the shelf to read it to himself! So I had three boys not yet introduced to this classic.

I was thrilled to find that they were all intent on this book. They laughed out loud at the Goose and her repetitious speech. Abraham picked up on the fact that the rotten egg that Templeton takes would come up again (so astute!). And they went to bed on Wednesday, wishing we could read more.

Joe was up early this morning. He would walk in to the bedroom and come out and say, "Abraham is still asleep. We can't read yet." After about five trips back and forth, Abraham and Isaiah finally woke, and they begged for more. Twist my arm. Two days ago, I wouldn't have guessed that I would have Joe begging for a chapter book before the week was out.

Every time I stepped inside, after milking, or making food, or checking on Phil, the boys were ready to read.

And so, tonight, we finished the book. When Joe first realized that Charlotte would die alone at the Fair Grounds, he buried his face in the bed, his standard "upset" posture. (Abraham and Isaiah seemed unaffected. Perhaps too many real animals dying in their lives?) I reassured him that although that is sad, that is not the ending, and that the ending is good.
Wilbur never forgot Charlotte. Although he loved her children and grandchildren dearly, none of the new spiders ever quite took her place in his heart. She was in a class by herself. It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.
At that point, though, both he and I were in tears. I don't remember ever crying with a son over a book. That was rather a precious moment.

And, speaking of books, Abraham has struggled along with his reading for about two years. I don't push him, and he's right on target for his age, but it is not easy for him, and books that he has read in the past are not necessarily easier for him. But a few weeks ago, Phil's parents sent us a collection of the original Garfield cartoon books. Jadon read them all aloud, and I found Abraham going through them later. He's been reading a few weeks worth of cartoons each day to me, and that has done wonders for his confidence.

It's like he finally realized that he could read things apart from just working with me. He read through Ten Apples Up on Top all by himself last week, moving his finger from word to word without my prompting. At church on Sunday, he said to me, "Why does the screen say, 'Yes'?" (On hearing it was the name of the next song we would sing, he said, "Huh. Funny name for a song.") But he stood up and sang along. Maybe a measure behind, but it was the first time he'd been able to read and participate.

Is it that I've been intentional to make sure I read with him six days a week (mostly)? Is it that Garfield motivated him? Or did he just hit the needed developmental milestone at age seven, rather than four or five? I'm guessing the latter helped with the first two.

As for construction progress ... Phil was on the edge of illness yesterday. The only thing he can think is that he had too many grapes on Tuesday. He does get migraines after drinking red wine, so maybe too many grapes, even organic grapes, made him borderline ill.

Today, after a medium long cow move, he worked on the long windows, prepping for next weekend. We're hoping to have some helpers come and set those 13' long, 56" high windows. They are surprisingly light for their size (maybe 180 pounds?) but, as Phil knows, that is too much for him on his own. And I am hopeless for helping. I know the last three times I've been expecting, I have hauled young boys around here and there all through pregnancy, and thought nothing of it. But I picked up a thirty pound box yesterday and gasped at how out of shape I am. My goodness! How mortifying!

1 comment:

  1. Obviously, I am WAY behind in reading your blog. . . . But this post about the sudden "advance" in the boys' reading certainly excited me.