Wednesday, January 10, 2001

Buying is easy. Reading is hard.

You remember the Scholastic Book Club. You get the little flyer from school, and you pick out the books you just must must must have or your life will be dark and dreary, and you beg your mother to buy them, and she does because she believes reading is good and enthusiasm about reading is better, and a few weeks later the slender little paperbacks come home, and go into a pile with the other slender little paperbacks you've had to have and then never looked at again, and the overall clutter of your house increases by .05%. That's the way it works around here, anyway.

This time around, we are adding to our clutter a 107-page book about a dog, "Red Alert"; a trio of small chapter books called "Winter Love Pack," and an unauthorized biography of Brittany Spears. I will be thrilled if she reads them. I will be thrilled if she even ruffles the pages. But why should they be unlike any other books? She'll admire the covers, and put them away.

Yet when the next flyer comes, we'll buy more. And one of these times, we'll institute a reading program to make her read. How we'll do that with the 17 hours we already spend on homework, and the four hours a week of Sylvan, and the remedial sessions I've just had the teacher add, and pesky things like sleep and eating, who knows. And given the pace at which she reads, that 107-page book should do us for a few years.

But at least she's asking for chapter books and Brittany Spears, and not picture books and Barney. That's a step up. Her TV tastes run toward "Dragon Tales" and "Clifford," hardly suitable material for a 10-year-old, even a 10-year-old who's in 3rd grade due to learning disabilities and general developmental delay. She's already taken some heat at school for not denouncing the purple dinosaur; good thing I don't let her watch Teletubbies.

So let her friends see her buying books. Let them fill up her room so there's no space for the Sesame Street toys. Let her at least aspire to appropriateness. Let's hope that one day, she'll actually crack the things.

And let's hope she doesn't notice how many books mama buys and never gets around to reading.

No comments: