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Refusing to read fiction – what to do, or not? - Page 2

post #21 of 30

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tigerle View Post


I guess it's a school thing. He will be exposed to fiction, be required to read it and be required to deal with the emotions. I'm a bit worried about that one, as it's not in a protected environment the way our bedtime reading would be and he can't really say no. I hope he has time to become more comfortable with it. That's why I'm asking for other's experiences - if there children were like this, is there a reason to be worried about forced exposure in school, did they get in trouble for refusing to read a book they were supposed to read or to participate in class discussion or write an essay, were they considered behind in language arts because they had trouble with this...at what age/grade wwas it an issue, if at all? I am ready to be told not to worry yet!

 

Well, since they spend the first 2-3 years learning to read they don't do a whole lot of discussion of themes in literature until age ~9 at the youngest, and it's really not until 10 or older in the US that they do much of this. At least in our schools, there's also a mix between fiction and non-fiction in the anthologies. Today dd's class was reading about honey bees. Your son is still 5, his ability to handle emotions will mature in the next several years. Really.

 

At 5, our dd absolutely refused to read fiction that was 'scary'. The Magic Treehouse books were far too scary, in her opinion. When I was making up stories, absolutely nothing scary could happen in them. I remember starting a story about a little fish in the ocean who went to fish school. I started to add something about how the little fish were learning about the shark who lived nearby. Dd stopped me and said "no, no sharks. Only good things happen in this story." Then she went on to guide me into telling a story that essentially was "the day in the life of a preschool fish". And  yet, 2 years later, she read the entire Harry Potter series.

 

There's a pretty big intellectual leap between age 5 and 7 where children learn the structure of stories in their culture. At 5, stories are really scary because they have no idea that it's going to be resolved. By 6 or 7, they've learned that the conflict is going to be resolved. One of the things that early chapter books do is introduce children to this structure. Books like the Magic Tree House books have a very very predictable structure. Each of the 47 MTH books are 10 chapters. Jack and Annie go on the adventure in the first chapter, they come home in the last. The climax comes in chapter 9. Each chapter ends on a bit of a cliff-hanger. While this kind of predictability is torture for parents, it's good for children who are learning to read. They don't have to figure out twists in the plot. The plot unfolds in a predictable fashion.

 

It's OK if he stays inside his comfort zone. He's only 5.

post #22 of 30

second charlotte's web, audio books in the car (e b white reading cw is fantastic), not at bedtime. ds also really like charles kuralt's reading of winnie the pooh. allison lassieur's historical choose your own adventure. maybe myths and legends? trickster tales? biographies of scientists and mathematicians (the librarian who measured the earth, blockhead...). phantom tollbooth, or the ca

 

i would be careful not to pull him away from quality non-fiction toward formulaic, badly written books so that he can be reading fiction. i see in my real life there is often pressure on kids to be reading chapter books, so they end up reading really dumbed down and formulaic things. much, much better i think to read quality things.

 

heather

 

 

post #23 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post

 

There's a pretty big intellectual leap between age 5 and 7 where children learn the structure of stories in their culture. At 5, stories are really scary because they have no idea that it's going to be resolved. By 6 or 7, they've learned that the conflict is going to be resolved. One of the things that early chapter books do is introduce children to this structure. Books like the Magic Tree House books have a very very predictable structure. Each of the 47 MTH books are 10 chapters. Jack and Annie go on the adventure in the first chapter, they come home in the last. The climax comes in chapter 9. Each chapter ends on a bit of a cliff-hanger. While this kind of predictability is torture for parents, it's good for children who are learning to read. They don't have to figure out twists in the plot. The plot unfolds in a predictable fashion.

 

It's OK if he stays inside his comfort zone. He's only 5.

 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by FarmerBeth View Post

A lot of boys have this preference, I see it all the time working in the schools.  My non ASD son is also like this (the one on the spectrum will read fantasy and science fiction for hours).  What I find helps if you want a broader exposure to literature, is to use "bridge" books (like the Magic Tree House or Dinosaur Cove series) that are based in real science or history. 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by domesticidyll View Post

 

i would be careful not to pull him away from quality non-fiction toward formulaic, badly written books so that he can be reading fiction. i see in my real life there is often pressure on kids to be reading chapter books, so they end up reading really dumbed down and formulaic things. much, much better i think to read quality things.

 

heather

 

 

Interesting controversy. I think that DS is spending so much time with non-fiction that I wouldn't actually call it "pulling him away" occasionally getting him interested in a chapter book, even if it's formulaic...the formulaic style drives me bonkers myself but I have seen how kids crave it. I do not think that the MTH that we read was that badly written, just very simple, and that one and the few picture books he listened to me reading for DD have already sparked a few vocabulary questions that would never have come up in non-fiction.

 

I like calling them "bridge books", with good literature, hopefully, at the other end.

 

I have a similar controversy with DH who is so against comic books he does not even want them in the house. I'm like "Who cares?" I used to read lots of comic books. I used to read lots of everything, comic books just being a blip on my literary radar, but there just wasn't enough reading around!

Anecdotal evidence of course, but while I and my brother were allowed comic books and DH and his siblings weren't, we ended up reading way more fiction than they do, until today. Not quite sure whether it makes a big difference either way.

 

Edited to add, that interestingly, DS isn't interested in comic books at all.

 


Edited by Tigerle - 4/22/12 at 12:59pm
post #24 of 30

My son had issues with finding some fiction frightening, but it doesn't sound like this is the same thing. I developed a list when he was 4 and 5 of the books that were interesting enough for him but didn't scare him.  (He loved E.B. White, but at 4 was way more concerned that Louis in The Trumpet of the Swan might not come home to his parents than he was that Wilbur or Charlotte could die.)  

 

He was not an early reader and a lot of books he wanted to hear were a struggle for him, but he was interested in fiction. There was a period in which he used to corner his friends on the playground and get them to tell him the plots to the books they were reading, and then come tell me about it. Later he became passionate about various children's books in series, sometimes before he could read them to himself. Now he reads all the time, and fiction has crowded out non-fiction for the most part. 

 

It really sounds like your kid is different. I read how you represent him here as annoyed or afraid of the deceptions of fiction in general, rather than fearful of getting too caught up in a story and projecting himself onto the characters. Is that right? 

 

You could try fiction books you liked at his age and tell him they are an experiment, to see whether he will enjoy them. I have found, with my kid, that the idea of experimenting is very compelling. Another thing that worked with my kid was comparing fiction to computer programming. My son had a lot of trouble with writing and found learning about computer programming fascinating (and pretty easy.) But this might be just what your child doesn't like about reading fiction! he might not like the way books have sound devices and metaphor and all of that to provoke an emotional response in the reader, either because he doesn't join the majority of people in that response, or because it feels manipulative. 

 

In my experience, my son's public school began engaging fiction in a serious way in kindergarten. In fact this is what I loved about his school! The kindergarteners did author studies. So on the one hand, you will probably have to deal with his feelings about fiction at school pretty much immediately. On the other hand, it's not a bad thing. He will be fine. He doesn't have to be good at everything at school right away, and he may be able to rise to the occasion of what's required in school

post #25 of 30

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tigerle View Post

 

I have a similar controversy with DH who is so against comic books he does not even want them in the house. I'm like "Who cares?" I read lots of comic books. I read lots of everything, comic books just being a blip on my literary radar, but there just wasn't enough reading around!

Anecdotal evidence of course, but while I and my brother were allowed comic books and DH and his siblings weren't, we ended up reading way more fiction than they do, until today. Not quite sure whether it makes a big difference either way.

 

Edited to add, that interestingly, DS isn't interested in comic books at all.

 

 

Interesting. I was a voracious reader of comic books as a kid, and although I recognize the value and merit of graphic novels, it's not a format that I read much now.  

 

 

In your earlier post, you identified a concern about:

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tigerle View Post

 it is not reading as such, but a the lack of exposure to literature, things like themes, descriptions, plotlines etc.  I am worried about at the moment, knowing that elementary curriculums are heavy on narrative and the discrepancy between what he can read and what he will read will be stark.

 

 

The mention of comic books made me think about other forms of narrative, specifically film. I realize that watching stories is not the same as reading them. If he watches television and movies, however, you can help him recognize and appreciate "themes, descriptions, plotlines, etc." I know it's not an answer to your concern about what he will be willing to read for school. Also, I am not suggesting that anyone could completely replace reading and literary studies with film study.  Personally, I think both are useful and valuable and almost necessary these days. However, if you are partly concerned that he won't develop recognition of narrative technique or analytical skills to understand and appreciate them, it's one approach you can try. 

 

 

post #26 of 30
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ollyoxenfree View Post

 

 

 

Interesting. I was a voracious reader of comic books as a kid, and although I recognize the value and merit of graphic novels, it's not a format that I read much now.  

 

The mention of comic books made me think about other forms of narrative, specifically film. I realize that watching stories is not the same as reading them. If he watches television and movies, however, you can help him recognize and appreciate "themes, descriptions, plotlines, etc." I know it's not an answer to your concern about what he will be willing to read for school. Also, I am not suggesting that anyone could completely replace reading and literary studies with film study.  Personally, I think both are useful and valuable and almost necessary these days. However, if you are partly concerned that he won't develop recognition of narrative technique or analytical skills to understand and appreciate them, it's one approach you can try. 

I edited my post above - I do not read comic books or enjoy graphic novels at all now, but used to read lots as a kid. Because I used to read lots of everything, period! I remember a particular fondness for Tintin stories, which I know my parents were somewhat disapproving of (I only picked up on the casual racism much later). I enjoy Calvin and Hobbes - do those count? smile.gif I wonder just how much our childhood preferences shape our adult tastes at all....

 

Have I mentioned, by the way, that DS does not watch TV or movies? We do not have a TV, but we do have DVDs, and very gentle kiddie DVDs, too. He refuses. Never asks for any. Asks for his science DVDs all the time, though. He really is very consistent in his tastes!

I have wondered recently whether to expose him to a Disney movie, because I was looking for the Circle of Life song on youtube and he very much enjoyed the video, with all the animals in the steppe. I am so hesitant myself now, as he has hardly watched any TV before, beyond a few Pippi Longstocking episodes, to expose him to a feature film that is as emotionally gripping as parts of the Lion King are. The other day, he did not recognize Mickey Mouse. I realize that someone who was TV-free on an ideological basis would probably be jubilant about their child being completely unaware of the Lion King or Mickey Mouse and chalk it down to excellent character free parenting but I kinda chalk it down to "more quirkiness which may make him stand stand out in school even more...

post #27 of 30
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by captain optimism View Post

It really sounds like your kid is different. I read how you represent him here as annoyed or afraid of the deceptions of fiction in general, rather than fearful of getting too caught up in a story and projecting himself onto the characters. Is that right? 

 

You could try fiction books you liked at his age and tell him they are an experiment, to see whether he will enjoy them. I have found, with my kid, that the idea of experimenting is very compelling. Another thing that worked with my kid was comparing fiction to computer programming. My son had a lot of trouble with writing and found learning about computer programming fascinating (and pretty easy.) But this might be just what your child doesn't like about reading fiction! he might not like the way books have sound devices and metaphor and all of that to provoke an emotional response in the reader, either because he doesn't join the majority of people in that response, or because it feels manipulative. 

 

In my experience, my son's public school began engaging fiction in a serious way in kindergarten. In fact this is what I loved about his school! The kindergarteners did author studies. So on the one hand, you will probably have to deal with his feelings about fiction at school pretty much immediately. On the other hand, it's not a bad thing. He will be fine. He doesn't have to be good at everything at school right away, and he may be able to rise to the occasion of what's required in school

 

 Frankly, I am not sure myself exactly why my child refuses most fiction (found another dinosaur story, this time an easy reader, another hit agian. Go figure). He will refuse most fiction books saying they're "not interesting", sometimes "too said". I haven't probed too much, if you know what I mean, thinking it might be counterproductive.

 

I might add that from the age of two until quite recently, I was not allowed to sing to him either. Lullabies in particular have induced long meltdowns because they were "too sad". I sing from a collection of children's songs now, to both kids, and that is fine, but DS still makes me (and my mother!) stop when we start singing lullabies. I flatter myself that we both sing very well so it is not a musical reflection on our singing....again, it must be something about music directly affecting his emotions which makes listening scary to him.

 

Possibly. this is just one of the things I should leave to school, period. He did sing in music school and preschool even when he refused to do any and all music with me.

post #28 of 30

Not sure exactly what his own bent will turn out to be, but I will share that my son who is now 8, had the reading ability to read MTH at age 4.  He was only interested in comic books and picture books and non-fiction "encyclopedic" books "all about XXX" type of books.  He is extremely visual and has a strong spatial sense.  He doesn't seem to be afraid of sadness in stories, or emotion.  *He won't talk about it.***   DH likes to read aloud to my older kids and he just started Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan, and ds can read it to himself, but is really enjoying hearing it aloud (DH is a good reader.).  DS always wanted visual stuff.  Only started reading chapter books of any kind this year.

post #29 of 30
Thread Starter 

Wanted to update that we are really making an effort with the family storytime and the kids love it. I am reading some books geared to DS's age group and some to DD's now but both kids snuggle up to me and listen to both. Not sure what DD gets out of those sories really but she is happy as is DS, so I am happy. It's enough exposure to literature for us at this point, I think.

 

I got DS a first grade level reader with dragon stories and he told me about reading it straight through, then started crying about how much one story in which the dragon family lost their house (I think literally in that the house flew off or something; I haven't looked at it) and didn't receive their letters for one day, getting them all in a heap the next morning, had upset him

Lynn, it made me think about your comment about letting him stay in his comfort zone. I am going to continue with the bedtime fiction reading, we only read books he's familiar with and I know he can handle, and for the rest of the day let him have all the non-fiction he likes.

 

Have to share the story here, too, about what happened tonight after our family story time I posted over at Toddlers because I still can't get over how cute that was -

We’ve been trying to add evening prayer to our bedtime ritual for years now – trying because we are forgetful about it, and sometimes DS is so overstimulated he just needs to be taken off to his own room in a kind of emergency manner for quiet time with DH as I continue to read or sing to DD. Lately we have really made an effort to have story time, singing and prayers as a family because DS feels somewhat left out of bedtime attention by me, and he’ll only listen to a story if I read to both of them (otherwise it’s nonfiction books about his latest passion all the way, and it’s not helpful for calming him down).

DS, 5, goes to Catholic preschool and has introduced the elaborate crossing ritual he learned at morning prayers into our home for evening prayers, too. So far, DD has been watching us doing this strange thing quizzically, but it’s clear she’s been taking everything in...

Tonight DH, turning the lights off, went downstairs to get a drink of water for DD before taking DS off to his room. DD complained “Dark? Dark?” then started running a finger over my face saying urgently “Son-a-holy! Son-a-holy!”, getting more and more insistent.

 

Did it ever take a long time for me to cotton on! “Guys! We’ve forgotten prayers again!”

 

I guess she won’t let us forget now, ever. That’s what you’ve got 20-months-olds for in the house...

post #30 of 30

Now, this is exactly the sort of thing that used to upset my son very much. He was less touched by character death than by characters getting lost, not being with their parents, not being at home. So, maybe the problem with stories is that they are too real, too relatable. The idea of people not having a house is pretty intense. 

 

My kid liked Winnie-the-Pooh and the All of a Kind Family books at that age. He experienced the schadenfreude scenes with Eeyore with NO pleasure, and a lot of sympathetic squirming, but mainly he enjoyed the books and didn't get frightened. He also liked Alice in Wonderland...but only after the most intense phase of worrying about characters getting lost. 

 

Now that he's older, my son does get upset by death. I think he understands it better. "Mommy, I wish we had met the guy who invented the Mandelbrot set while he was still alive!" (The guy who invented the Mandelbrot set=Benoit Mandelbrot. He didn't name his fractal after a cookie.) But he can also read age-appropriately scarier books without freaking out. I can't say that another, more gifted kid is going to have the same experience, though. The good thing for you is going to be that your younger child will hear the stories with him, and her response to fiction will be different. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tigerle View Post
I got DS a first grade level reader with dragon stories and he told me about reading it straight through, then started crying about how much one story in which the dragon family lost their house (I think literally in that the house flew off or something; I haven't looked at it) and didn't receive their letters for one day, getting them all in a heap the next morning, had upset him
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