I have come to a realisation this week and I am a little angry that I hadn’t reached it before.
My eldest daughter loved to read. She had read all the Harry Potter books twice by the age of nine along with a multitude of other books. If she loved a book she rattled through it and had pretty diverse taste from Michael Morpurgo to David Walliams, Anthony Horowitz and Jacqueline Wilson, with some true old classics thrown in. Then she moved on a bit, focusing on some fact books and obsessing about writing her diary at bedtime. I hadn’t noticed that things were changing.
The most recent book she bought gleefully from Waterstones was all about the making of Fantastic Beasts but it is hard and filled with some complicated words and concepts about film making. She asked endless questions about what words meant. We answered dutifully and got a dictionary without alarm bells ringing.
The last couple of weeks have been tough. We’ve had a lot of worry and upset, much of it to be expected as part of growing up, some of it frustrating and SATs related. Bedtime started to stretch out for hours with endless trips downstairs to bring up yet another worry.
It came to me that she could read a novel, and I realised she had not really been doing that of late. “If you read a book before bed” I sagely advised “you can escape into the story and that might help you sleep. It’s what I do every night”.
The brand new recommended novel by her bed, “Cogheart”, was the logical choice. Within minutes she was downstairs asking what things meant, and over the next few days we had more tears and frustration.
So what’s going on? She’s capable of reading and understanding the book (which is aimed at age 9+) and has read much more complex stories. We think we’ve worked it out. After hours and hours a week at school of dissecting paragraphs, along with never actually finishing any books that are studied (this included The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and Goodnight Mr Tom”, her natural love of books has been damaged.
We talked to her about it and she said “I read each sentence holding my breath, then I read it again”. I could cry.
Based on the endless SATs papers that are coming home as homework I need to mount an assault on this nonsense before her desire to read is broken completely.
In response we are building in purely recreational reading time after school. She wants to reread some things she loves and I’ll be getting out some easier silly books to rekindle a love of nonsense. What’s more, since I am reading lots of children’s books anyway, we are going to work on a new blog about books. Maybe you’d help me out with some reviews from you and your kids to get us going? New books, classics, comics, anything goes.
I’m not having this. Bring on the stories.