Ryan Traris: Reading Between the Lines

How do you get a 7-year-old to do something they absolutely don’t want to?

I don’t mean eating veggies, picking up toys, or getting into the bathtub. We have those under control, to some extent.

But Anthony seems to have no interest in choosing a book to read. And it was driving me crazy.

Reading may be my favorite activity in the entire world. Books have been a constant companion since I was a kid, when I devoured the Hardy Boys series, and adventure books like Gary Poulsen’s “Hatchet” and whatever else I could get my hands on.

After school, I would lie on the porch swing, enjoying the breeze and any new novel I stumbled upon. Whether on cold winter weekends or warm summer mornings, I have to walk away from whatever story I’ve been immersed in.

My time a little more, I say, talking about these days. But give me a free afternoon and maybe a sunny seat in the backyard, and I’ll go away.

I read historical novels about the age of pirates and fossil hunters in the 1880s. During the winter months, it’s all Nordic murder mysteries, with its bleak atmosphere set in remote and cold places. Non-fiction choices include everything from the history of the Great Lakes to the volcanic eruption of Krakatoa, to decades-old travel itineraries.

One of my all-time favorite books is an examination of the geological history when the earth completely froze, written almost like a mystery novel, aptly called, “Snowball Earth.”

The point is that my tastes are all over the place.

When Anthony was born, I was excited to pass on my passion to him. We read him picture book after picture book when he was a little kid, and there were a few he would ask over and over again. But he grew out of it — he’d rather build with Legos, play soccer in the backyard, or, God forbid, go to work in the world of Minecraft on his iPad.

Making him sit with me while I read to him, or make him utter the words himself, is getting more and more difficult.

I was interested. But I realized – just because Anthony doesn’t open a book when he gets home from school, he’s constantly reading.

He reads the names of songs and bands on the radio in the car. Launches street signs and advertisements on billboards. When we watch the news in the morning, it comes out with the slogans and captions for each clip.

And best of all, when he’s on his iPad, he’s reading. He goes to the programs his school gave us to read books about everything from Japan to who would win a battle between a polar bear and a grizzly bear.

I am more comfortable after making this realization. His professors say he’s doing really well, and after careful attention, I think so.

So maybe Anthony isn’t the one sitting quietly in the corner while his imagination soars. That may come later; It may not come at all.

But I have no doubt that his curiosity and thirst for learning was met. He just approaches it in a different way. And that’s totally fine.

Ryan Traris is a reporter and columnist for the Daily Journal. Send comments to [email protected]

Ryan Traris is a reporter and columnist for the Daily Journal. Send comments to [email protected]

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