A Giant Leap Forward


Reading has not come without its share of battles and tears for my son.  Last year, he truly HATED to read and it was such a struggle for us.  I at times found myself wondering if I was really meeting his needs by homeschooling.  Part of me kept telling myself, “He is a boy.  He’ll get it, it just takes time.  Don’t worry.”  But another part said, “Am I doing a good enough job?  Should I push more?  Should I put him in school instead?” 

I tried all sorts of ways to make it more fun (like cramming my 9 month preggo body onto the floor of our closet).  I also started using incentives… like “read 10 books and you get a date with mom.”  (Hello frappuchinos!)  This worked some, but honestly, sometimes 10 books seemed like too loft of a goal.

I then stumbled across a carrot which worked wonderfully.


He and his sisters got a piece of gum if he read a book that day.  This worked well b/c the girls became instant encouragers… “Have you read your book yet today?  Let’s get our gum!” 

During the summer, I also had a friend whom I respect greatly, who has worked as a reading resource teacher with the county for years, evaluate him for me.  She graciously did and she instilled me with a great dose of confidence that yes, he was doing ok, and she even gave me some pointers for how to help him.

Fast forward 7 months and he is now a reading machine!

This December he brought home a book from the prize box at his tutorial.  It was called “The Wisdom of Solomon” and it was about a little Amish boy named Solomon.  Never in a million years would I have picked that book out for my son.  But, it was a turning point for him.  He was so excited about it.  Truthfully, it was a bit above his reading level, but I figured it couldn’t hurt.  He was thrilled to have his own book and he would pick it up and read it to himself from time to time.  Sure, he didn’t get every word on the page correct, but he did get the basic gist of each chapter. 

IMG_8808A few weeks ago we had a great room rearrangement at the circus (more to come on that in another post).  The girls now share a room and the boys now share a room.  As he was moving in with his little brother, I told him that perhaps since the boys couldn’t really talk as they fall asleep like he did with the girls, he could instead read.  I told him that one really cool thing that Big Kids do is stay up at night reading quietly in bed.  He thought this sounded so exciting.  He grabbed his Solomon book and eagerly got started. 

IMG_8944One night after they had been sharing a room for about a week, he came out after bed to show us that he had finished the book!   The look of pride and glee on his face is one I will treasure always.  Scott and I made a big deal about it and we took a trip to the library a few days later.  He was literally reading in line at the check out, on the way to the car, in the car on the way home….  I found a basket which I put by his bed for him to keep reading books in.  It’s been fun to see him return to the book shelf and pull out books I used to read to him when he was younger, which he now reads to himself.


He is so, so excited and proud about reading that he happily chooses to read as he falls asleep at night, when he wakes up in the morning, and during quiet time in the afternoon.  I found him reading to his sister on the couch today.  He no longer needs incentives.  He now reads for his own pleasure. 

Words can not even begin to describe the joy this brings to me.  Scott and I spent some time in Barnes and Noble last night during our date night.  We love to look around at books at the bookstore.  This time, we also spent considerable time in the Children’s section looking for books for him.  I am beyond excited about the endless possibilities there are for him now that the doors to reading have been opened.  We just learned about the Magic Tree House series and we bought him book 1 as a surprise.  He is already on chapter 6 tonight! 


  1. Crystal, it's great to hear this story. I feel like we are in a similar boat with our daughter, though with math. I am resorting to different incentives to get through the (short) lesson each day, and she is dragging her feet. It's tough for me, because I love math. But I'm also wondering, like you, if homeschooling is really meeting her needs in that area or not. It's encouraging to hear your happy ending, and I'm hoping for a similar breakthrough over here.

  2. :) I'm just smiling! :) Good job, big guy! :)

  3. Hey Crystal, If you want I can let you borrow the Magic Tree House series. Holly's not ready for them yet and the boys have gone through all of them.

  4. This is awesome! What a great story Crystal. Good for him!

  5. So exciting! I can't wait for Annalia to get to that point, reading on her own for pleasure. Good job on being patient and persistent, such a tough balance.

  6. That's so amazingly wonderful! Ethan loves the Magic Tree House series and he also loves the A-Z Mystery Series, too. Happy Reading, to your son! Cool, cool, cool!

  7. Oh I am so happy for you You are doing OK with your kids. Don`t tell him but the Aphagan is finished Do you want me to send it down with your Mum & Dad when they come down or send it by mail.??? talk to me by email.

  8. That just warms my heart : ) The Henry Huggins series (by the author of the Ramona books) is also fun for boys, and some day the Hardy Boys, but I think they're a little older if I remember them correctly. I do love the Boxcar Children too! : )

  9. He's just such a super special, swell little guy! How great that he's taken to a love of reading! I think its just so great having that quiet reading time before bed. And who would have thought gum would be such a motivator! Yay! I'm so anxious for our kids to get to the chapter book reading level. There is just a whole wide world of books to explore at that point! So many places they can go in their imaginations!

    I'm sure all along you were doing a great job teaching him. I think the picture of you 9 mos pregnant in the closet proves that!

    And your effort and his hard work have paid off! He's a reader!!!

  10. What a great, inspiring post! Thanks for sharing it.

  11. I remember feeling that way when I was little. I loved to read. I still do, but some of the thrill is gone :) If he would like some shorter books, I would recommend the Henry and Mudge series. We love them for read-alouds so maybe he would like to read them to the girls. We just read "How to Train your Dragon" to Joey, which we greatly enjoyed. I don't know if that would be more of "team effort" type of read though. Anyway, I am babbling. Happy reading little man!


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