Back to School…and Reading Lists

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Lesley and Mike have gone back to school, and each of them has a reading list that is longer than they would like. Lesley had a summer list, so she got a head start. Mike had his list this summer, too. But…well. Let’s not chalk everything up to being of the male persuasion…kids reading

Both Lesley and Mike are having to read classic titles that make me think of Mark Twain’s definition: “A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.” We’ve taken two effective approaches to slogging through these books.

First on the list is reading aloud. One of Lesley’s assignments was Siddhartha by Hermann Hess, a book offering insight into the spiritual journey of a young Nepalese man. Easily picked up from the local library, we realized that reading it proved more difficult. So we settled on reading aloud to our favorite 15 year old.

It ended up being a nice part of our day, either in the early afternoon or evening, as we were settling down. I would stop along the way and ask her questions to see if she was “with me” and not zoning out. That activity kept us both engaged. We applied some of Siddhartha’s soul-searching questions to our own beliefs – how are we similar? How are we different?

Finding Zen and the Art of Archery was a bit more challenging in our neck of the woods, but we discovered it at a larger chain book store in a larger nearby town. We managed to successfully procrastinate reading this one for various reasons until we were trapped in a van on the way to Olivia’s university. My husband was the driving force (both literally and figuratively) for the Nike-inspired decision to just do it. Thanks to his insistence and gracious chauffeuring, I started to read aloud again.

We took breaks and talked about what we were reading between passages. My husband gave us great compare and contrast questions to keep us focused. We stopped for soft serve ice cream, and before we knew it, we had finished this fairly short little book – and enjoyed it.

Reading aloud also works for non-ADHD children. Last winter, Olivia was really sick with an upper respiratory bug of some sort. She also had required reading – Jane Eyre – and a lot of time to read. Since she didn’t feel like it and seemed to welcome the idea, I read parts of the book to her. It was a few weeks into her semester that she remarked to me how grateful she was for that time. She felt that Jane Eyre would have been difficult to read in spurts, and that she had a much better understanding of it due to our reading it through in a few relaxed consecutive sittings.

Of course, reading aloud to our kids isn’t always possible – and shouldn’t be something they rely on 100%. That brings us to Mike. We’ll talk about how he is meeting his reading list challenge in our next post…



  1. http://Kristin says

    My son (7) was diagnosed with ADHD-I during the summer. Our Pediatrician quickly wrote a prescription for Focalin, which I know is a regular ADHD drug, but I was wondering what others were being prescribed or had success with since our kids are not hyperactive.

  2. There are so many…Concerta, Ritalin, Daytrana (comes in a patch), Strattera are the ones which come to mind. They’re not only prescribed alone, but they are also use in conjunction with other types of meds, in combination with each other. The problem is that each child’s body chemistry is different. There is not a one size fits all pill – nor is there one shot non-med solution.

    I just posted your question on the Facebook page. I’ll report back the findings here.

  3. We discovered the power of the kindle for our crew- not obsessing about the size of the book, allows them to just sit back and actually get engrossed in the story. Reading at bedtime has become a habit over the last year because of the kindle. When there was nothing better to read, due to kindle budget restrictions, my reluctant reader has tackled some not so action packed books like “the Omnivore’s Delimma,” his older sister’s required reading that was in our family’s kindle archive. Love the read aloud idea…promotes family communication too – bonus!

    • Never thought about the fact that there isn’t the daunting thickness of a book to immediately discourage a reluctant reader! That’s a great point.

      How do you handle the ‘budget restrictions’?