Forging signatures in the name of reading
Yesterday I took Claire and Luca to the Shaler Public Library for a “Reading Readiness” class. Basically, it’s like a 45 minute snapshot into what Claire should expect kindergarten to be like.
Let me start by saying that when I got home, I gushed to Matt about it. This library is amazing. It has classes for everything imaginable and it’s all FREE. This place has won countless awards and they truly care. When we first walked in, and I asked where the class was, the lady, without hesitation, got up and walked us upstairs to show us around. There were so many staff members present and smiling, I had to wonder if they were drugged before starting their shift.
After feeling judged at both the Oakmont and Fox Chapel libraries, I can honestly say that I will not go to either again if I can avoid it. Shaler’s what’s up. One thing I’ve learned is that if you go to a place where money flows, it does not mean that the public institutions will thrive. In fact, if you go to middle or lower class income neighborhoods, I can guarantee you that their programs will be a million times better, simply because all kids deserve a chance. Not all parents can afford to send their kids to every clinic, study, or art school available. There’s a time and place where you get what you pay for, but when a program at a library is free? Take up on that offer.
I’ve been worried about how Claire will do in kindergarten because of her maturity. Jess reminded me that kindergarten isn’t just about numbers and reading, so this program gave me an inside view on how I think she will fare.
In a nutshell? She’s going to own kindergarten. When Luca and I went back into the room to get her, class was still going on and she was sitting quietly, followed instructions and even made up her own rhythm pattern with rhythm sticks when called on. (Remember those?) At the end, the teacher asked if she was entering first grade (because the class was for both kindergarten and first graders) and when I told them she was entering kindergarten, the teacher said she will do extremely well and may qualify for the gifted program. (You were right, Jess.)
First of all, I find it amazing how quickly she was read by a teacher, but this teacher has been doing it for over 30 years. So I suppose she knows what’s up.
But, even with all this information, I plan on just feeling out kindergarten and not push Claire, just let her find her own way. I’m not going to kick myself for her not starting last year, because what’s done is done. If she ends up being bored or doing far better than expected, then we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. Is Claire a genius? Not in the slightest. She simply shows a natural ability and want to learn. She’s also ridiculously competitive which I think forces her to want to be able to do it all. That in the end may help her or hurt her.
While Claire was at class, Luca and I went into one of the many rooms just for kids and he found the mother load: Lego books. I can’t tell you how excited he was. When the librarian saw how excited he was about reading, she asked if we were a part of the summer book club. I said we were not, and quickly got us signed up.
Competitive Claire is already having a conniption over the fact that Luca is three books ahead of her. Basically, it breaks down that every five books or chapters in a chapter book equals one book buck that can be used in the library store. It can be the same book read over and over again (Hello, Goodnight Moon and Mae!) and any non fiction book is extra points for an even bigger prize. When I told Claire the prize was sunglasses, she grabbed the paper and said, “OK, so I have to read all these books, huh? Got it.”
This reminded me of my own book club days.
See, when I was a kid living in Minnesota, Carly and I spent a lot of time at our grandparents. So that we wouldn’t become latch key kids at the age of 7, we went to their house after school.
I was sneaky as a kid. That’s just the truth of it. I see a lot of myself in Mae and am worried for myself as a mother, to be honest. At least I know the signs?
Anyhow, book club. We had 25 books we had to read in order to qualify for a Pizza Hut Pan Pizza. It was simple. We read a book, wrote it on a line, had our parents or guardians initial it.
But see, I hated reading. No idea why. Just didn’t take interest. I was the kind of person who enjoyed reading the same book over and over because I liked the familiarity of it all and also, I liked finding something new that I previously missed.
I’m a skimmer. So when I re-read a book, that’s when I finally see the whole picture.
It’s kind of like a game to me.
So here I am, young, cunning, competitive. I wanted that damn pizza. Instead of, you know, reading the books, I simply wrote down the titles of books, made sure it was one I took out of the library, and forged my grandma’s initials: AKH.
You know I was patting my back about this, right? Because it was pretty genius.
But, there are these things called Parent Teacher Conferences and that is how I met my demise.
Teacher met with mom.
Teacher gushed about my ‘devouring of books.’
Mom looked confused.
Teacher showed mom paper with AKH scribbled all over it.
Mom said, “That’s not my mom’s handwriting.”
Teacher said, “Huh.”
Mom said, “My kid’s a liar.”
I got grounded.
See, now, I had it 80% of the way fool-proof. Mom worked, didn’t know for sure or not if I had in fact read these books, so she could ask grandma, or just assume I have. However – I didn’t brush up on my ‘old lady’ handwriting, and that’s where I went wrong. I used third grade style cursive handwriting, but my grandma used the real official-like kind. Slanted, curved, easy to read when you get used to it style.
I totally butchered that part.
If my memory serves me, I think I had to read those books. Or at least some of them. Turns out I ended up liking them. Go figure.
So my kids, Mae, Luca and Claire, are all participating in their own version of a book reading club. Guess what? I’m in charge of writing it down.
And trust me, I learned my lesson well.
Though, I’m sure the librarian will wonder if I’m lying for my kids, because Luca’s card will be full in a week. That boy LOVES to read and I’m not going to stop him. Work for those bucks, boy.