Reading is fun, except for all those words

I was helping my 1st grade son with his homework. This isn’t the perfect bonding exercise, as he does not like doing his homework and I do not enjoy watching him not like doing his homework. It leads to impatience in my voice, which he likes almost as little as he likes doing his homework.

Earlier this year, as I was dragging him out of bed for school, he told me, “I don’t like learning. It’s not really fun for me.” Dragging him out of bed in the morning is not really fun for his parents, but I suppose that’s an issue for another day.

Part of his homework that night was a questionnaire from his reading teacher. I guess she wanted to get a feel for each child’s attitude about reading before getting too far into the year. My son is a pretty good reader, when he has to be. And when he doesn’t have to be, he’s playing with LEGOs.

When it comes to reading practice, he’s lazy. I could compare him to a mule or other reluctant worker, but that’s not quite strong enough. The only simile that fully captures it is: he’s as lazy as a six-year-old.

The first question on the homework was: “Reading is _________”

The boy thought about it for a second, then filled in the word fun.

I raised an eyebrow. “Really? You don’t act like reading is fun.”

“Reading is kind of boring. But I think this is what the teacher wants me to say,” he explained.

It would be hypocritical of me to make him change his answer, since much of my own school career was based upon political expediency.

What books?

He loves going to the library. They have fun toys and games there, and you can even borrow Sponge Bob videos.

He answered a few more questions about his favorite subjects to read before he got to the question: “The best thing about reading is _________”

He didn’t have to think about it at all. He quickly went to work answering the pictures.

This didn’t sound much like a reading is fun kid, but maybe you can like to read and still like the pictures even a tiny bit more than the text. I let it go.

The next question was: “The worst thing about reading is _________”

He didn’t miss a beat. “The words,” he said, quicker than he could touch his pencil to the paper.

I had to slow him down this time. If you are going to start off playing this game of hiding your opinions behind the expected preferred opinions, then you ought not directly contradict yourself by letting your true feelings out later.

I should have let him look foolish with his incongruous answers, but I was in no mood to be dragged down with him.

We discussed it and decided the hard words made a better answer.

So it boils down to this: reading is fun, especially when accompanied by numerous illustrations, but the enjoyment can be diminished by an overabundance of difficult passages.

That sounds like a perfectly reasonable opinion, doesn’t’ it?



28 comments on “Reading is fun, except for all those words

  1. I totally feel you. If my son were in your sons’ class– also 1st grade, his answers would be the same- except he would have had a complete and total meltdown about changing any answer he had already written, because Dakota is outside and he wants to ride his bike with her, and changing his answers might take an extra 15 seconds, therefore depriving him of 15 seconds he would otherwise have spent on his bike.

  2. That’s how I feel about reading. Not a fan of the overabundance of difficult passages in books. I just skim past those.

  3. pieterk515 says:

    Dude loves reading as much as I like a root canal. He had to do a book report for English homework, which implies he had to actually. Read. A. Book. His novel of choice? Wait for it….

    Diary of a Wimpy kid.

    Dude’s fourteen. I’m so proud…

  4. I think a love for looking at books filled with nice pictures is a great way to for kids to enjoy books before they enjoy reading. My son was the opposite of an early reader, but some kids are just ready later and when it clicks for them their reading skills take off like a rocket. He’s just reaching that point now. My whole goal has been for him to enjoy books and reading and never put on too much pressure to the point where it’s not miserable. A little hard work is necessary, but if he didn’t enjoy it too, he would have struggled more in the long run.

  5. Not quite 40 says:

    My son is almost 7 and loves to read. The key to it? Cartoons. Garfield books, Beano annuals from his dad’s childhood, and a long time in the toilet….

    He started with Simon’s Cat.
    That has no words at all.

    Yesterday he read his very first story book to himself out of choice. And wants to have another one in the series.

    We also read chapter books to him at bedtime, like Roald Dahl, so he gets to enjoy the story without the hard bit of reading those pesky words!

    • My son actually gets a big kick out of some of the books he reads with me. But does that mean he wants to read another one? No way. And I read to him at bed time every night, which he seems to love. But picking up a book to read on his own? Not happening. Not yet, anyway.

      • Not quite 40 says:

        Ahh, but how much time does he spend on the loo?! Give him a strong curry on a regular basis and see if that impacts on his reading 😉

        As I said, it was all about Simon’s Cat, and then Garfield cartoons. First ‘real’ book was only last week. It’ll come, I am sure.

  6. yearstricken says:

    Why don’t they have looking classes instead of reading classes for the young children that like to look at just the pictures?

    • Maybe if looking were the thing they had to learn, they’d prefer to read.

      • The Neighborhood understands that we are a small voice, but we do everything within our means to assure we remain a respected voice. Unfortunately, the Comedy Category process has come into question and we have made the decision to suspend the category until further notice. We are very proud of each of our nominees and hope you understand, our intent is to do the best we can. The pleasure is ours. – Kendall p.s. Please feel free to delete my comments. Better suited for email.

  7. […] Snoozing on the Sofa Reading is fun except for all those words written by Scott […]

  8. Congratulations Ross Murray! Knock Knock 2014 Best Comedy Blog Post Nominee for ‘Reading is fun, except for all those words.’

  9. Absolutely loved it. I’m a teacher. Totally get it.

  10. […] Snoozing on the Sofa Reading is fun except for all those words written by Scott […]

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