Lesley and Mike have gone back to school, and each of them has a reading list that is longer than they would like. Lesley had a summer list, so she got a head start. Mike had his list this summer, too. But…well. Let’s not chalk everything up to being of the male persuasion…
Both Lesley and Mike are having to read classic titles that make me think of Mark Twain’s definition: “A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.” We’ve taken two effective approaches to slogging through these books.
First on the list is reading aloud. One of Lesley’s assignments was Siddhartha by Hermann Hess, a book offering insight into the spiritual journey of a young Nepalese man. Easily picked up from the local library, we realized that reading it proved more difficult. So we settled on reading aloud to our favorite 15 year old.
It ended up being a nice part of our day, either in the early afternoon or evening, as we were settling down. I would stop along the way and ask her questions to see if she was “with me” and not zoning out. That activity kept us both engaged. We applied some of Siddhartha’s soul-searching questions to our own beliefs – how are we similar? How are we different?
Finding Zen and the Art of Archery was a bit more challenging in our neck of the woods, but we discovered it at a larger chain book store in a larger nearby town. We managed to successfully procrastinate reading this one for various reasons until we were trapped in a van on the way to Olivia’s university. My husband was the driving force (both literally and figuratively) for the Nike-inspired decision to just do it. Thanks to his insistence and gracious chauffeuring, I started to read aloud again.
We took breaks and talked about what we were reading between passages. My husband gave us great compare and contrast questions to keep us focused. We stopped for soft serve ice cream, and before we knew it, we had finished this fairly short little book – and enjoyed it.
Reading aloud also works for non-ADHD children. Last winter, Olivia was really sick with an upper respiratory bug of some sort. She also had required reading – Jane Eyre – and a lot of time to read. Since she didn’t feel like it and seemed to welcome the idea, I read parts of the book to her. It was a few weeks into her semester that she remarked to me how grateful she was for that time. She felt that Jane Eyre would have been difficult to read in spurts, and that she had a much better understanding of it due to our reading it through in a few relaxed consecutive sittings.
Of course, reading aloud to our kids isn’t always possible – and shouldn’t be something they rely on 100%. That brings us to Mike. We’ll talk about how he is meeting his reading list challenge in our next post…