I'm a teensy weensy bit controlling. I've lived for years with a definite opinion of how things should run in our homeschool, but I'm happy to report that after 8 kids, much of that unreality has been kicked to the corner of my life, because, 8 kids.
It also never really occurred to me that maybe some of my kids wouldn't enjoy reading as much as I do, and even though they all have loved our regular library trips, our copious read-alouds over the years, and the books all over our house, something happened to most of them around 8th grade.
Why 8th grade?
Starting in 7th grade, the books we begin to assign are mostly difficult and cerebral. Many of us understand this; we enjoyed reading until books were assigned to us in high school and college, and then a classic like Anna Karenina, for example, which should be an eye-opening and deeply satisfying read, becomes something that must be done and sped through to meet deadlines and discussed in a small group and written about.
And suddenly reading is a chore rather than a delight.
Prior to the 7th grade reading assignments, my kids read from a wide variety in the following categories:
You can read more about how we did that in this post on How We Create Reading Lists and a more detailed post called Reading Lists. That method served us well until I began to realize that if I didn't give them more freedom of what to read during the school year, I'd likely be killing off that love of reading long before I needed to, and that's a shame.
How We're Getting the Love of Reading Back
Part of the joy of reading, of standing there staring at stacks of books in the library or bookstore, is in the choosing. This is the key, I think, to my kids reading and absorbing and enjoying.
This year, instead of choosing which books fall under those four categories of History, Biography, Science, and Literature, I'm letting them choose. The categories remain, but when we make a trip to the library, they choose which history book ro read, which biography, etc.
The big surprise for me is that they are now scouring the shelves, asking to look for books and subjects on the library website, and entering into long discussions with the children's librarian, a kind, boisterous, and knowledgable man who leads them to shelves with excitement in his voice and says things like, "Oooooooo. Have you ever read Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH? No? Oh, you'll love it. It's animals and science fiction and victory all rolled into one!" And the 6th grader smiles as she takes it from his hand, eager to start her reading the minute she hits the backseat of the car.
Sometimes, you can teach an old dog new tricks. I may have killed the love of reading in some of my older kids for awhile, but here's a fresh start. I'm always thankful for the fresh start!