In a blog titled Book Emergencies, I introduced you to my now fourth grade son Matthew, my feast or famine reader. On some occasions, he devours books, on others, he nibbles his way through them. Last month, Jeff Kinney’s Dog Days came out and when he got his hands on it, he read it in one day, staying up late to finish it. Since then, he has merrily returned to Lego magazine and his fifth reread of Club Penguin pick your own ending. In a conversation with other teachers, I affectionately referred to Matthew as “my turtle,” the one content to plod along slowly, slowly, slowly.
My other son, Nathan, is “my hare.” He’s a first grader who wants to read everything. He’s dying to read “chapter books.” In fact, very often he will pick up a Magic Tree House book and read several lines and not make a mistake.
Wrong. I am worried about Nathan, too. Sure, he can say all the words in Magic Tree House but he works awfully hard at it. All of his energy is poured into decoding and by the time he reaches the end of a paragraph, do you know what he has left for understanding? Zilch.
Matthew, on the other hand, understands everything. Recently, he read Amber Brown is Not a Crayon, another book below his “level.” Yet, as he read this story, he talked about how Amber is “forgetful” (like him, he added) and Justin is feeling “awkward” about moving. When he finished he told me that this book is “a lot like that saying ‘If you love something, set if free.’”
When he told me this, I nearly fell off my chair…and as I hit my head, a thought occurred to me. So, he reads all this easy stuff, but he gets it. In fact, not only does he get it, he goes deep.
Hmmm. Maybe Aesop was onto something when he told us about the turtle and the hare. Maybe slow and steady really is the way to win the race.