Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Hitting it Home, one Nail at a Time

I come home and find that Stitch is trying to pass off yet another completely unacceptable Reading Response Homework Assignment. He is loathe to show me the paper, stating, "I didn't see the instructions," as he does so.

"You clearly did see the instructions, because you know you didn't follow them."

Stitch was supposed to read a book for thirty minutes, and write two to three sentence responses to various points; why he liked the book, who his favorite character was, and so on. Stitch has written single sentences, restating obvious points in the flimsy little book he read, way below his reading level.

"Stitch, this is awful. You need to do better. Sit down."

I try to go over how he can elaborate on his points, but the book is so thin and lacking in content, there's not much even I can go on. Stitch is nearing tears.

"Don't cry. I don't want to see tears over this." I get up and get Out from Boneville, one of Stitch's favorite graphic novels. "You've read this, right?" I hold it up.

"Yes," the lower lip is quivering.
"How long did it take you?"
"About an hour."
I know this is true, I was there. He read it all the way home from the comic book store and then completed it at home. He ate up every word. "Don't cry. Okay. So, let's use this book instead. Take a moment to skim it and refresh your memory, and start over." I take a fresh piece of paper and re-write the worksheet Teacher gave him.

Stitch goes over the book for about ten minutes and re-starts the assignment. As I suspected, it's easier this time. Stitch easily comes up with plot points, his favorite characters, and finishes with "Mom should go out and buy the whole series!!"

He hands me the paper, now smiling.

"Stitch, this is perfect. This is a fantastic example of what your Reading Responses need to be."
He smiles.
"Stitch, how old are you?"
"Nearly eight. What grade are you in?"
"Stitch, this book," I point to Out from Boneville, "the one you read so easily, and loved so much, is meant for twelve year olds and sixth graders."
His eyes get big. "Really?"
"Do not ever, ever, sell yourself short, Stitch. You are smart, and you are capable. Don't just squeak by. Challenge yourself to do better. Because if you're reading sixth grade books in the second grade, imagine what you'll be able to read in sixth grade."
He thinks on this. "Maybe I'll read books this thick," he throws out his arms.
"Maybe. But for now, I want you to read this," I pull out The Phantom Tollbooth. "It's about a little boy who reminds me of you. Always bored, always saying there's nothing to do."
"I can't finish that!"
"Read a chapter a day, starting tomorrow. You'll like it, I promise. I read it when I was a little older than you."

We eat dinner and talk about our days. Stitch is eating and stands, suddenly doing spiral stretches at the table.
"Let's do that after dinner," I say.
"Can we do it outside?"
"Of course."
"I think I should run around the courtyard three times to warm up," he says.
"That's a great idea."
"Well, I'm full. Let's go out and wake up my feet."


  1. I remember getting those insultingly easy reading assignments in elementary school. And I remember deliberately doing them incorrectly. ST is lucky he is allowed to use a different book instead.

  2. Phantom Tollbooth was the book that got my daughter reading.

  3. The kids can choose whatever they want to read, but Stitch deliberately chooses books below his level to get the work done faster. I had to confiscate most of his kiddie books to keep him from doing it, but this one escaped me.

    He's reading Phantom Tollbooth now, can't put it down. ;)