Like many parents, I’ve always loved cuddling with my children and reading books to them. As they grew older, my reading to them became reading with them and then, in the blink of an eye, my oldest couldn’t wait for me to read the next chapter and began taking the books and reading ahead.
My older son is an over-achreader. Yes, we created the term because it suits him. He picks up a book, no matter the level and reads and reads until he’s finished. Immediately, he’ll order a new book, or he’ll re-read a book again. He’s a third grader, reading on a 7th grade level. I’m incredibly proud of his skills, but I also worry. It’s not easy to find appropriate books for a child reading so far above his level.
Last spring, he took to Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series, which focuses on Greek, and later, Roman, mythology. He read the 7-book series at least two times and then proceeded to teach others what he was learning, and to discuss mythology with my friend who majored in it in college. He began visiting the library to view every mythological video and book. He collected mythology coffee table books. You might say he was obsessed.
I knew so little about the ancient Greek and Roman cultures, beyond my college sorority letters and themes. He’d try to quiz me on gods and their powers and I’d just shrug and smile. “I’m trying,” I’d tell him.
While talking about his interests and his habits with our school principal, the principal asked how I could be sure he was truly comprehending? It was a good question. He was reading books so quickly, about topics I was unfamiliar about, was he missing anything? The question also made me take pause. I was missing something. I was missing sharing the excitement and drama of reading a book with him.
That afternoon, I proposed that he start the series over and read it with me. We didn’t have to read aloud, but we’d read the books at the same time, discussing as we learned: asking each other questions, predicting outcomes… Of course, he’d already read all of the books, but he jumped at the opportunity to read with me.
We started a 7-book book club. We were able to, once again, share the joy of pivots and plots and fall in love and hate with characters together. We had long discussions about what the characters should have done, and what might happen next in the next book.
I also learned that he’s a faster reader than I. Growing up, I was that kid. That kid who read and read and never stopped. But now, now I have to stop and care for his siblings. Read with them. Play with them. I can’t devote my free time just to a favorite book.
He also has phenomenal comprehension. I found myself going back to previous chapters or volumes to confirm something he was quoting. I truly believe he has stronger comprehension skills than I’ve ever had.
Last week, the eighth book in the series, Mark of Athena, was released. It had been a pre-order best seller for weeks and you can be certain that when Big came home from school he did his homework faster than we’ve ever seen. He barely put his Kindle down for two days.
And then he was done reading, telling me that we’ll have to wait a year for the ninth book in the series. He wants to discuss all that happened in the book with me. His eyes are lit with excitement over the twists and turns.
I’ve fallen behind, I explained to him. I’m starting the book tonight, I promise. I can’t wait to read the adventure that he’s read and learn all that he’s learned. But I just can’t keep up with his reading skills. It’s amazing to me that my third grader has such strong skills.
I also wonder what we’ll read next. What book we’ll share for our November club “meeting.” While I do miss the opportunities to read books with my friends, book clubbing with my 9 year old son has enriched our relationship and given us something that I hope we’ll value doing for years to come.