Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Books and a Backbone

Some parents I know have established the rule that their child does not have permission to watch the movie until the book is read.  We never had that sort of parental backbone.  Our children were watching Lord of the Rings movies from the time the oldest was 9 and our youngest was 2.

To be fair to our parental strength, our children did know the story.  We had listened to an abridged audio version traveling around in our Odyssey.  David and I knew the stories as we had read both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings for the first time when the first movie was released.

As for Harry Potter and all of its movies, we watched them as a family after I read the book out loud.  This was over the course of a year, starting in July 2006, and again mostly while traveling around in our Odyssey.  I would read a book and then we would borrow the movie from the library.  We caught up to the current movie, The Deathly Hallows and saw it in the theater much to the delight of all.  We finished the sixth book right at the time the seventh and final book was released.  By then we were waiting with all the other obsessed fans for the next movie to be released.  Once again, to the delight of all we watched them in the theater.  Now that I've written all this I guess we have a stronger backbone than I originally thought.

But I should not pat myself on the back to soon or it will break.  Those youngest kids, who were not reading on their own yet, continued to watch the movies, both Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter over and over and over again.  Sure, they still listened to the audio books at bedtime, but none of them decided to actually pick up the book themselves and devour the words for themselves.

My back finally broke late this summer when I was tired of the constant question, "Can we watch something?" Not to mention the ensuing arguments when one or another did not like the choice a sibling offered.

"No more Harry Potter movies until you have read the books," I declared.  Stunned looks and squeals of "not fair" followed my proclamation.  No amount of puppy-dog eyes, or pie-crust promises would work this time to change mom's mind.  By this point, all that did was to increase my stubbornness to continue down the path I'd entered in frustration.

"But those are so long, it will take FOREVER to read them," uttered my youngest.  Still, I did not relent.  "Well then, it will be forever till you watch another Harry Potter movie," was my heartless reply.

We have well-worn copies of each book on the shelf.  They were immediately taken by Abby and Sam.  They sat and read, first complaining, but then as the days progressed, telling me more about the story.  Then when the first book was done I was scared.  I was afraid that would be it, no more interest in reading and they would just try to out-wait my decree.

But it didn't.  Instead what I have been hoping would happen for years finally arrived.  They became so interested in the story, I would find them at every possible moment reading the next book.  I finally heard them tell me, "But mom I'm reading,"  and I have had to tell them, "Put the book down and do your work."  These statements have been pure joy to me, as it has been long in coming.

Sam has surprised me the most.  He has just been devouring them, one right after the other.  He finished the third book on a Tuesday.  Library day is generally Thursday.  He kept asking if we could go earlier so he could get the next book as our only other copy was being read by his sister Abby.  I finally gave in and told him I could pick it up on Wednesday at a different library that I would drive by after an appointment.  He was delighted.  I couldn't believe he wasn't able to wait even one day to start the next book.

Each time we are at the thrift stores, all the kids scour the shelves for books to buy for their own collection.  Each are obtaining their own copies of Harry Potter as well as Narnia, and books by Rick Riordan, and of course The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings.

Readers, that is what David and I are.  We are constantly reading something, books, magazines, articles.  Hannah and Ellie followed suit shortly after learning to read around age 6.  Nose glued to a book, that is how we are.  But Nathan, Abby, and Sam?  I worried.  For a long time I worried they wouldn't be readers.  Even though many other homeschool moms had told me not to; had shared their own stories of how their own offspring finally decided reading is inviting at later ages than "normal."  But I was scared and worried.

They were right, I needn't have worried.  These three are reading for pleasure, are reading for assigned school work, their noses glued to a book.  Our parental backbone is still in place, aching and creaking for sure, but still there.  They have learned that movies are good and fun and enjoyable, but the books give so much more.


Anonymous said...


Jane S.

Elephantschild said...

I worry, too. I have held off on certain movies till she reads the book for herself, but caved on one or two.

Mine's slow to delve deeply into chapter books although she is capable of reading them now. Trying to trust the process and hope that she, too, will be a bookworm in her own time.

organistsandra said...

I worried in the same way. Yes, it did work - in spite of me - for the first two children. (But it probably won't with the second two. I am too busy doing everything else, it was just luck the first time, now my time is divided, this time it's a boy, etc. etc.). It worked with the second two as well. :-)