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As a Mom living in a foreign country it's hard for me to get my kids to enjoy reading in English. Their English level is good, but Spanish is their first language. I find it's really hard to find any GOOD material for children like mine. I did come across a story on Lulu.com called Abuelos which really seemed to captivate my children's interest. Not only did the stories talk about children (American children in this incidence) being raised by a foreign mother, a Spanish mother, and the visit from the Spanish grandparents. It also seemed to captivate what it's like for children who are raised with not only two languages battling in their heads, but two different cultures as well. There were many stories by the same author and they are all written in three different perspectives, each child in the family tells his or her version of the same story. It's hard to explain, but it brought me back to my years studying Comparative Literature, but with stories my children could appreciate. Plus, they were written in Spanish and English, with both languages on the same page. My kids really scritize word for word the translation. I have been trying to find more stories like these ones, written with a comparative perspective as well as in both languages. I have combed through so many blogs about children's literature, but haven't seen anything like it. I myself am an avid reader, as is my husband, my kids have ample time, space and material for reading. But when you find something that REALLY works for them, it's frustrating not to be able to expand and take advantage of the moment.
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As a Mom who is watching her children become interested in reading, I can say This is a great article! All of the real-life examples she gave are true in my household! And watching my oldest read and get excited about it . . . THAT was the very best pay-off! I love watching my babies read and they love to read TO me! When I would wash the dishes or cook dinner, they would set a chair in the kitchen and read to me. When I would hang laundry out to dry, they would bring a book and read out loud to me there as well. And I would get interested in their books too! They loved to see me want to know more about the story they were reading or know that we had read the same books! It's all very exciting!
As a preschool child,my son was very interested in numbers, when he was five, for example, he was dividing 500 dinars into 4 parts, but he wasn’t interested in the letters at all. His sister was reading fluently at the age of 6. But my son knew only 26 letters when he was 7 years old.
Very soon we realized that we must further strive to develop our son's habit of reading.
Picture books didn’t attract him, he was using them as toys. We surrounded him with children's encyclopedias with lots of illustrations and some text. He became interested. He made conclusions about the phenomena and events thanks to the illustrations and when they were not sufficient , he sought additional information from us. We would always start with: ''It says here ...'', then we would read the text and discuss its meaning.
He started school and learned how to read, with more difficulties than how to count, but no major problems. When he would ask for help in learning, we would first ask him to read text from books that it is not clear, and then we would talk about the meaning. We would never read it for him and give ready-made conclusions.
As soon as he learned to read, we made him into a library member, but we left the choice of books to him. He did not like to read about ‘’flowers and spring’’, and, besides the required reading materials, he mostly was reading encyclopedias and books that gave precise information. He loved history, and for his 10th birthday, he asked for a book about World War I. In the bookstore, he chose a two-volume book, Calvary and Resurrection of Serbia. We were buying children’s magazines, and he, regularly and with interest, was reading the magazine named Politikin zabavnik..
We were regularly monitoring the reading of obligatory school literature, because we thought it was a mandatory minimum of belles lettres. We were interested in his interpretation of the read books. That part was very interesting.
When he read the novel The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway, the main conclusion was that the old man went too far and that there was nothing he could do. All that struggle on the high seas did not impress him and he considered it as a consequence of reckless initial step.
Reading the novel The Bridge on the Drina, by Nobel Prize winner Ivo Andric, we remember because he was confused why the novel mentions the central pier if the bridge has 11 arches, which means that there is no central pillar.
My daughter was insistent on explaining him the meaning of Hamlet's ''to be or not be'', but only the final outcome had any significance to him, and he concluded the debate with:'' Oh, well, in the end they all killed each other, and that’s that.''
I did not interfere much with his interpretations. He was interpreting by the logic that there is a cause and consequence. Everything in between, for him, did not have any significance. I thought it was better that he has an opinion, at the cost of a lower grade in the Serbian language and literature, then to learn by heart the interpretations of literary critics and present them as his own.
Marks in the Serbian language and literature was 3(C) or 4(B) (out of 5), but his vocabulary was solid, and his writing was correct both in terms of grammar and spelling.
He completed his bachelor and master studies at the University of Technical Sciences with an average note of 10 (highest mark), now he is a PhD student, but he still does not read the nice literature. In addition to technical literature, he reads magazine National Geographic, historical and biographical books.
Even today, I am not sure if I should have insisted more on his reading of the literature.