Saturday, July 23, 2005

Book knowledge

This week I took the boys to the library to join the summer ‘Reading Journey’ activity. Over the summer holidays the boys are required to read six books and then answer questions on what they have read to gain a medal for the achievement(presented at school). For R, this is last year he can participate (presumably because he should be reading this amount without bribery! He isn’t), and for P this the first year he has attempted it.

Over the years R has discovered I was a creative child who found many ways to get around the rules of the household. I don't believe R’s often succeeded in pulling a fast one on me, ‘cause I know them all! For instance: at the dinner table no child is allowed dessert if they don’t finish their plate – sounds simple – but there is a way around their fathers eyes; you see, if someone eats their potatoes and gravy (before finishing other things) then they’re allowed to help themselves to seconds – and if you have seconds, you don’t have to finish your plate to get dessert! And what R does is help himself, then push the cauliflower in with the left-over potatoes. He thinks he’s clever, but I’ve given him the eye, and he knows I know! (I should add, that although I agree the children should clear their plates, a good attempt is enough for me and I can’t be bothered with the upset the strictness brings.)

So back in the library, R knows I will check the books he chooses to make sure they don’t have supersize writing and a reading age of five, and mostly importantly – he seems to have finally stopped trying to get away with this!

And then we have P. P loves dragons and pirates and being a good mom, I scoured the shelves with him and was pleased with what I found. He wasn’t.

It seems P has two firm criteria when choosing a book: the cover must be garish and busy to the point of sending you cross-eyed, and it can’t be over one hundred pages long. NOTHING ELSE MATTERS.

I thought of fighting him on his choices, but the reading age was about right and so I decided he could learn a lesson about suffering through poor choices.

But it wasn’t him who learned something. It was me. The stories might have been all over the place, (a couple were about a detective mouse, one was about Jason from Greek mythology, another about a boy who falls into a time-slip) but he’s finished the lot (350 pages total) and had a wonderful (varied!) time along the way. He even begged me to take him back to the library to sit his questions and chose the next batch (which are longer!)

So P impressed me. Not so his father.

My BetterHalf was sceptical that the books had been read and asked P about the stories. Forty minutes later he begged P to shut about the damn stories (he didn’t actually use the words ‘shut up’ or ‘damn’, but you get the picture!)

Then the BH began telling P he wasn’t reading the books correctly. P shouldn’t have been able to read that much in so short a time. According to BH you should read slowly, fully relishing the plot and puns, and not race through it.

I don’t get it. I don’t read like that. If a book is good I can’t help but read it quickly, and if it’s not good then I’m not reading. And I said so.

P sat quietly as an exchange took place. (I won’t go into the details, because one day my husband might discover this blog and then I’d be up shit creek!) But we kept it down to calm sarcasms and the outcome was, I told P he could read a book any way he likes!

But it has got me thinking. Is there a correct way to read a book? Am I getting something basic, so wrong?

6 Comments:

Blogger MarkD60 said...

So let me get this straight, BH asked P to tell him about the book, P gives an overwhelmingly detailed account at least 45 minutes long, and then BH says P isn't reading properly? If P can give a 45 minute speech about a book he read, I'd say he got a good understanding about what was in it.

I agree with you, I read a good book much faster that a bad one. But as a rule, I try to finish all the books I start. James Michner, a couple of his books (tomes) I have read and thought the whole way through, "this sucks, I'm quitting reading this book after this chapter". But when I finish, I think "dang! that was the best book I ever read!" I am glad at the end I didn't quit reading like I wanted to. Most of his books are great all the way through.

Other things, like my financial reports from my IRA, I read and understand every word, but my brain doesn't extract the information from the sentences. It is the strangest thing. (I don't trust them and think they're trying to baffle me with BS.)

In school, I never liked english class. It seemed pointless. Later I needed the info when I took spanish, they were talking about nouns and verbs and sentence structure and I was handicapped because didn't know that stuff in english, nevermind spanish!

Sunday, July 24, 2005 3:13:00 am  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Damn. I was going to post, then I noticed I was posting as Bare Rump. Considering what I'm about to say, it would have had far different connotations.

Here's how I used to handle the 'clean your plate or no dessert' problem. Different solutions to keep the parents guessing:

1. Chew food into a wad. Pass wad into hand (feigning a cough). Drop hand under table. Feed dog. Repeat.

2. Chew food into a wad. Stash wad in cheek, chipmonk style. Excuse self to bathroom. Flush. Repeat.

3. Chew food into a wad. Pass wad into hand (feigning a cough). Drop hand under table. Food to heinous for dog to eat it? No prob. Stuff food up against undersurface of table. Press firmly. Come back after dinner, before gravity takes effect. Retrieve wad, go to bathroom, flush.

Hey, I was fifteen before I knew beef was supposed to be red, not grey.

Sunday, July 24, 2005 4:29:00 am  
Blogger Anduin said...

I'm with you on the reading fast part. I am an avid reader and I can blow through a book in a couple of days. Just don't ask me to tell you what it's about. I read it, I know what it's about, but I can't for the life of me tell you about it.

I think it's great that your son has enjoyed his assignment in reading and hopefully this will lead to a life long passion for him. I don't think it matters how you read the book as long as you enjoy it.

Sunday, July 24, 2005 2:03:00 pm  
Blogger OldHorsetailSnake said...

You are spot on, Debi. Zip through. If it's important, it can always be re-read later, chewing Reese's Pieces along the way, if it's important enough.

Sunday, July 24, 2005 4:08:00 pm  
Blogger Jona said...

Hi Mark, It's taken me years to learn that I don't have to finish a book, and I still feel jittery if I give up - but life's too short ;o)

Doug, I have a problem with your solutions - what if you don't like the taste/texture of the food? I don't want to chew it! Nah, I prefer the sudden movement of the fork (sending the food flying) as you chat - the dog's always happy to clear up ;o)

Thanks, Anduin!

And Hoss, thank you too :o)

Monday, July 25, 2005 2:21:00 pm  
Blogger bret lee said...

Just don't ask me to tell you what it's about. I read it, I know what it's about.paper writing

Thursday, April 25, 2013 7:53:00 pm  

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