X-man came home a couple of weeks ago with his monthly pre-school newsletter. In it, the newsletter said that the majority of the kids in his classroom were reading Max the Cat books.
I asked X-man if he had started to read them yet. He broke into tears and said that he was too stupid to read Max the Cat. I tried not to make a face to reveal what I was thinking. It was hard. I know certain things about my kid -- like he pushes the "I can't" tears too easy and about everything from putting on his shoes (which he wouldn't let me help him with when he was two, but now whines about needing help at five) and the fact that if he's not interested he claims to be stupid. But I also know that he's very observant. And he feels like he's the only 5 year old in the room NOT reading Max the Cat. And therefore, he must not be as smart as the other kids in the room. I know that feeling. It's a terrible feeling.
I felt bad that he was having a crisis of confidence over something that he has no control over. Reading is a lot like potty training. It's a concept, but really until the mental switch flips in the child's head, you can't stuff it down their throats. You just have to attempt, wait, support and repeat. But most of all, you have to make it fun and do it when the child is interested.
So, I busted out all the early readers I've purchased over the last few months, and I scoured the library shelves in Tolono and I requested some materials from all over Central Illinois that I thought he'd enjoy. And every night before I read him his two picture books and a chapter from a chapter book, he attempts to read one of the phonics readers. He likes them because we go over the two new words each night and every page repeats the words over and over on each page. For example, "We will fly to the moon." "We will fly to the stars." The last page is always a little tricky, but he gets that when he learns a few sight words he can apply them to the other books.
But today a Max the Cat book finally came from one of the other library systems. I took it upstairs tonight and showed it to him. He read the title by himself, looked at me and said, "I like our books better." Then he tossed Max the Cat on his toy box, picked up a Kipper book and a Dick and Jane book and I picked out the book for him to read me and we sat down and did our evening reading.
In essence, my child totally gave Max the Cat the finger. And I'd be lying if I didn't say I was really pretty proud of him.
So much so that I read him the Kipper Rocket book twice...