I am a reader. I have always been a reader. My mother took me to the library every week when I was a child. I wanted to live there. Marco is also a reader. He refuses to pay more than $12 to get his hair cut, but he won't blink an eye at buying a $30 hardcover novel every week. And, he actually reads them.
All three of our children ask to be read to several times a day, not just before bed. They see us reading our own books all the time. And for several hours each day Annabella will listen to audio books on her CD player. She recognizes letters and can write many of them. She sees her 7-year-old cousin read and when she recites books that she's memorized, she imitates the slow and steady tone he uses to sound out the words.
But if I ever try to encourage her to read on her own, she acts as if I've just tried to poke her with a corkscrew.
I decided that maybe I was just doing it wrong. So, I was interested when MotherTalk offered to send me the Bob Books for beginning readers by Bobby Lynn Maslen & John R. Maslen. Annabella was very excited when the books arrived. The set came with over a dozen small, paper back books with brightly colored covers. And even though the books are a lot simpler than the books I normally read to her, she listened with the same quiet attention as she listens to the plot-heavy Henry Huggins.
The Bob Books start slowly, with only a few sounds at a time. The sounds that each book uses are listed at the beginning of the book. Annabella had about five minutes of patience with me asking her to sound out the letters and then she said plainly, "Mom, I want you to read it." When I tried to point to the words as I read them, she pushed my hand away. "I can't see the pictures!" I tried to encourage her a little more until she shouted with all the exasperation a four and half year old can muster, "I DON'T WANT YOU TO TEACH ME TO READ!"
I've consulted my expert sister and she assures me that her son (now an avid reader) had the same angst over reading, until one day when he didn't. Her friends report similar experiences. And yet, it's still hard to know where encouragement becomes pressure. If you take the training wheels off too early, your child can take some mean falls off their bike that they might just not recover from. Leave them on too long and they become a lot harder to take off at all.
So, I've put away the BOB Books for a while. If I'm going to do the reading, then it's going to be our steady rotation of Beverly Cleary and Dr. Seuss. I'll try the Bob Books again in a few months.