You are currently browsing all posts tagged with 'reading'.
Displaying 1 - 6 of 6 entries.

Is It Just Me?

  • Posted on September 15, 2014 at 8:56 PM

eBooks are the way of the present and will, I’m told, become more prevalent in the future. There are a lot of reasons why authors are particularly eager for the acceptance of the ebook. It allows them to reach out directly to their readers. As a writer, I share their enthusiasm—until I have to read one.

A friend of mine wrote a novel and published it as an ebook. I bought the ebook and began to read it, got frustrated, and then distracted. There was nothing wrong with the story. For as long as I could forget the screen, I could get into the story. Then it would be time to “turn” the page. It made it all-too-easy to put it down.

That was before my diagnosis of fibromyalgia, which means it was before I started to have to really think about what encourages my own productivity. Recently, I had two ebooks I was supposed to read for my course work. I tried and failed. I literally could not get past the first page.

One of the reasons for my failure is that the system wasn’t user friendly. The publisher who made the book available as an ebook clearly cared more about protecting copyright than they did about the readability of their ebooks. For example, I couldn’t access the ebook via my Kindle. I had to zoom in to see an eighth of the page at a time to read the thin, gray text. Every time I tried to scroll to a different part of the page, it reset me to the top of the page. It was a “horrid unpleasant” experience.

Another reason for my failure was that, inconvenience aside, I couldn’t concentrate on the text in this format. This is kind of peculiar, because I read text online all the time. I realized, however, that my brain has different modes for reading different things. The mode for reading novels is different than the mode for reading text books. The mode for reading online is different from either of them.

As I considered this issue in more depth, I realized that there are lots of things I have avoided reading online. If I get a short PDF, I will waste the paper and print it out. If, however, it is a lengthy blog post I’m fine reading, then it’s fine for me to read it online. I can read online news article just fine, but I can’t get in the right reading mode to really enjoy an online short story. This has been true for a long time and it’s become more pronounced since the onset of my fibromyalgia.

I broke down and bought the text books, because I realized that was the only way I was going to get through this class. I’ve realized that the mode I get into when reading course materials and fiction, while different, both involves being unaware of my surroundings and becoming immersed in the material. This is not possible when I’m online, accessing the material via my computer. I assumed my discomfort would change with increased exposure, particularly on the Kindle, but I’m beginning to wonder if this is just one of the quirks of being me.

I can’t help but wonder: Is it just me?

Some Good News

  • Posted on October 29, 2012 at 8:00 AM

On Sunday, when I was on my way to doing something, I was stopped by Ben, sitting on the steps, fussing over his Kindle. Somehow or other he’d gotten on a Google page that was requesting he choose a language and he was frustrated because he didn’t know how to make the page do what he wanted—which was search for something fun to look at.

I tried to help him and he pinched me.

This surprised me.

If you’ve been reading my posts for long enough, then you know that Ben has behavioral issues. He’s aggressive. He throws tantrums regularly. He pinches, bites, kicks, hits, pushes, and otherwise misbehaves regularly. He’s gotten suspended for school for these behaviors.

But that was last year.

This year he’s going to a new school, with new teachers, new students, and a whole new approach to his programming.

I’ve been so wrapped up in Willy’s epilepsy and so wrapped up in Alex’s lack of progress and so wrapped up in the onset of bullying and so wrapped up in working on my book and so wrapped up in being sick from all the stress and poor sleeping habits that I didn’t notice that Ben’s behaviors had changed, not consciously.

Then, he pinched me. And it surprised me. It surprised because it had been a regular occurrence, and it surprised me because it was no longer regular.

Wow. This is big. This is huge!

And I almost missed it.

On Thursday, when I attended his school conference, I also learned something else surprising. Ben is now reading sight words at grade-level. That’s the phrase his new teacher used: “at grade-level.”

Perhaps this seems like a small thing, but none of Ben’s other teachers have ever used “at grade-level” before, because none of Ben’s other teachers thought he could do anything “at grade-level.” Obviously, he can!

And this is just the first conference at the new school! I wonder what he’ll be doing next?

The Joys of Reading

  • Posted on April 25, 2012 at 8:00 AM

A while back, I started reading YA novels aloud to Willy.  The goal was to improve his comprehension skills for his school work.  But now that goal has been accomplished, he’s doing better, and we keep on going.  Now, it’s an opportunity for me to share with my son the joys I found in reading certain books from my own adolescence.

He’s not always an enthusiastic participant.  He’s enjoyed some books better than others.  His reactions to the stories are certainly different than mine were.  But he’s always willing to listen and he’s always eager to spend the time with me.  Especially if we break it up in Willy-sized chunks (three to seven pages in a sitting with three to six sittings a night).

It makes me think a bit wistfully of the days when the boys were little.  You know, that time when parents are “supposed to” read aloud to their kids.  It makes me remember how painful it was when the boys refused to participate in this sacred familial ritual.  It was hard on both Mark and I, because we’re avid readers and we wanted to share that with the boys.  It just didn’t work.  Their attention spans were too short and the verbal component didn’t really work for them.

We adjusted and started watching videos with the boys, which they loved.  We talked about what we were watching so it wasn’t such a passive activity, but it still wasn’t the same.  (Not that they ever really sat still for a movie, any more than they sat still for a book, but that’s more about being sedentary than being passive.)

Now that Willy and I can read together and we can both enjoy it, I can’t help but hope that someday I will be able to do the same with Alex and Ben.  Ben is getting there, but Alex would still prefer to read to himself.  Maybe someday I’ll get the opportunity to share my the love of reading with all three of my boys, just as I always wanted.

Story Comprehension

  • Posted on June 18, 2011 at 8:34 AM

Willy loves stories. He tells himself stories almost constantly. He watches movies, YouTube and television shows, and he acts out stories he’s really enjoyed or he makes up his own. Yet, Willy doesn’t really like reading. It’s a struggle for him to follow along. This is frustrating—for both of us.

Right now we’re reading A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. This is a story with a history in our family. This is the first book my mother ever remembers reading, and it’s a book I read and loved when I was Willy’s age. These facts helped me to develop a pre-reading interest for Willy. But the reading part—and the comprehension part—are still a struggle for him.

We’re keeping our reading periods brief, and that helps. We’re also going over what we read quite thoroughly after we’ve read it. That helps, too. But, it’s still a struggle.

On the upside, both Alex and Ben have been bringing Daddy (a.k.a. Mark) books for him to read to them. And they actually sit and listen to him read!

Staying Put

  • Posted on June 11, 2011 at 12:39 AM

So, I’ve been working with an individual over the last few months that made some big promises and failed to follow through. (I knew it was a risk going in, and I was willing to take that risk.) Suffice it to say, we won’t be moving out east, even if he comes through with the promised payments (which will probably require a court order). While I’m very disappointed in this individual’s unethical behavior, I find I’m surprisingly not disappointed with staying put. As much as I’d like a better house, I’d prefer that house to be in the same area with the same schools. I’d prefer to stay by our friends and sort of close to much of our family. Travel one direction, and in a few hours or less we can reach one batch of family. Travel in the opposite direction, and in a few hours or less we can reach another batch of family. Travel in another direction, and in a few more hours we can reach even more family.

Of course, we rarely travel and we have family that is even further away, but that’s not the point. The point is that relocating to the East Coast would put us further from all of our family.

Besides, for all the occasional complaints I have about my little park-filled city—which has a serious drought of some of the big-city restaurant and shopping choices, but also doesn’t have the big-city crime and inconvenience—I like it here.

So, we’re not moving, at least not far. And that’s good.

Speaking of staying put, though, there’s this other thing. The thing where Willy is behind in his reading skills, the thing where they wanted him to go to summer school, the thing where, when I filled out the paperwork and turned it in, I was told he would not be getting the supports he needs. Hm. So, basically we’re going to make Willy go to his most difficult class over the summer and not give him the support he had throughout the school year, the support with which he made insufficient progress to keep up? Maybe it’s just me, but that sounded a lot like a recipe for failure—which would not improve Willy’s attitude towards reading.

Turns out it’s not just me. His speech and language pathologist, who is also his case manager, agreed that it was cause for concern and that a home-based strategy might be better. So, instead of summer school, Willy and I will be reading books together, talking and writing about what we’ve read, and working on comprehension skills. Instead of the “punishment” of summer school, he’s rewarded with extra-focused Mommy-time, the flexibility to use alternative approaches, and a whole summer of skill-building that is wholly individualized. Now, that sounds like a recipe worth following!


Proof: Ben Can Read!

  • Posted on December 19, 2010 at 3:28 AM

Some things you just know.  I know Ben can read.  But…knowing that really doesn’t do much good, does it?

One of Ben’s therapists—the one who comes most often—also knows Ben can read.  But…knowing that really doesn’t do much good either?

Taking a leap of faith, but needing proof, the lead therapist (or whatever her title is—still can’t keep it straight), set up a test.  On a white board, she wrote out a paragraph that Ben should have been able to read, if he could read.

The paragraph was full of relatively short, common words.  Words like “Ben” and “boy” and other familiar things.

And Ben read it.  I didn’t hear him.  He wouldn’t do it for me.  But he read it with two witnesses who were just gushing over his accomplishment.

Some words he didn’t know.  He didn’t just read “swim,” for example.  He had to sound it out.  And he did!  He sounded it out.  And once he sounded it out, he was comfortable with the word and, I’m guessing, was able to associate it with the activity he knows and loves (i.e., swimming).

Proving Ben can read took time and a bit of forethought.  Watching Ben read books that he very well might have memorized isn’t enough.  Watching Ben labor over books and then tell himself the story in the middle of the night isn’t enough.  Watching Ben read books we’ve never showed him, but he might have memorized in a different venue, isn’t enough.  Writing a whole new paragraph and watching Ben read it aloud proves Ben can read.

But this is also something of a “splinter skill,” at least in his ability to prove he can do it.  (Whether or not his ability to actually read varies is unknown.)  Sometimes he can read aloud.  If he’s calm enough to sit still…  If he’s able to understand the direction that requests he read aloud…  If he has interest in the “game” we’re playing by requesting that he read aloud…  Then, Ben can read and he will prove it by reading aloud to us.

Thinking about this, though, I have to wonder.  I mean, I knew Ben could read.  I know Alex can read.  But that skill isn’t attributed to Alex, because Alex can’t prove it.  He can’t verbalize it.  He can’t read aloud.

So, why is it the default position of schools/therapists/etcetera to assume inability until the ability is proven in a typical manner?  This question is two-fold.  Why the assumption of inability?  And, why can our means of attaining proof not be as creative as our means of teaching or meeting sensory needs?