Tuesday, May 02, 2006

You CAN Always Get What You Want

Whenever I talk with high school students about drugs and alcohol inevitably we come around to the "where do you get it from" conversation. More often than not, students will admit that they have older siblings buy for them. In fact research data identify older friends and siblings as one of the most common ways for young people to obtain alcohol (along with stealing it from home) and something about which we are constantly educating parents. Apparently my son Luke has already figured this out too - if you can't get something you want, have someone else get it for you. Thankfully, it's not alcohol - but books.

You see, Luke was an early reader. His sister Emma taught him how to read when he was 4 and she was 6. He quickly took off and although he is only in kindergarten, he is able to read at a 4th grade level, the same as Emma who is in second grade. He's already read Charlotte's Web, James and the Giant Peach and Little House on the Prairie. Recently he has become quite a fan of the Magic Treehouse series and is working his way through all 28 books as well as the 7 books in the Merlin Mission series.

Last week he went with his class to the school library to get a few new books, as they do every week, and was told by the kindly librarian that he couldn't check out Haunted Castle on Hollow's Eve because it was a "third grade" book. So rather than be disappointed he tracked down his sister in school and asked her to check it out for him. I found out when we were having quiet time and I asked him what he was reading.

"Haunted Castle on Hollow's Eve" he replied. "They told me I couldn't check it out because it's a third grade book and it would be too hard, but I'm not having any trouble at all."

"Where did you get it?" I asked.

"I had Emma check it out for me."

When my wife and I finally finished laughing we decided to mention this to his teacher. She agreed that Luke would have no trouble reading any third grade level books and most fourth grade books as well. She was also willing to notify the librarians that he should be allowed to check out any book he chooses.

BTW, He finished it in two days. All 112 pages. He takes after his mother in that respect.


Sophia said...

That is so cute!! And hilarious. Way to go, Luke.

(By the way, as a former 3M employee, I still need to put a "TM" after the word "Post-it".)

OneEar said...

You need to put a stop to this. Haunted Castle is a gateway book!

Sophia said...

M*****l, you little "*รง%!

Thank you.

Sven said...

I expected someone to get uppity about the TM thing but not so soon.

Attila The Mom said...

Since when do librarians get to decide what's "too hard"?

Back in the dark ages --snerk-- I had basically depleted everything worth reading in the school library by grade 5. I received permission to go next door and check out books from the junior high school. What a treasure chest!

Kudos to the kid for figuring a way around the book patrol!

Rhonda said...

Dare to Just Say NO to Higher Learning.

Friends Don't Let Friends Read Haunted Castle.

I love the context in which you told Luke and Emma's story. I was one of those kindergarteners shipped over to second grade during the reading lessons because, like Luke, I'd figured out how to read at four. I, however, was not nearly as brilliant as Luke in avoiding the librarian/dictator.

Later, I was called to the principle's office after being "caught" reading Judy Blume's Forever and sharing page 85 with my peers (there will be, I'm sure, people who read this, who grew up in the 70's and know exactly what I'm talking about.) The book had been banned from our school library.

Anyway, yeah for Luke and Emma and for their Mom and Dad too.

frankengirl said...

Sven -

Gosh, you’d think they’d be happy to see a youngster take on a challenge?!

Yay for Luke and his sister Emma - and his very cool parents!

Rhonda –

Hehe! Yes, I remember peeking into Judy Blume's Forever at the library (and searching for a particular page!), though I didn’t dare check the book out.

Nikki said...


Lauren is also an excellerated learner. She reads on a 6th grade level and will be completing the 2nd grade this year. She is stuck on Junie B Jones, which is far below her reading level, but she loves them and reads them over and over. I spend more money at the book store than just about any where else, and do it without complaint.

Alas, she can't skip a grade. She is mathmatically challenged, like her mother.

Keep feeding them there kids the books. Imagination is the passport to the world and beyond.

Sophia said...

FrankenGirl: Here we go again... I haven't thought about "Forever" in, well, forever! Gosh, I remember peeking into that book and searching for that page numerous times!!

The name "Ralph" has never been the same.

Meg said...

Okay, now I have to read that book.
Sven, that's really awesome that your kids love to read. I learned to read when I was four and spent most of my childhood with my nose in a book. I can't even get my sisters to crack one open.

Sven said...

I hate to demonize the Librarian, she really is a nice lady. I imagine she is simply following the "rules" although as others have said, perhaps there shouldn't be rules around what kids choose to read.

FrankenKristin has read every Judy Blume book as well, (I stuck to Encyclopedia Brown and The Great Brain) so I expect the kids will eventually get around to those as well. No banned books here, dammit!! Recently I bought a used copy of "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing" for Luke but I'm not sure he's read it yet. Emma has moved on from Junie B. Jones and is now into the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary. Luke only had a passing fancy. The best thing about having kids who like to read, and be read to, is the opportunity to revisit the great books from my childhood (or in my case, read them for the first time).

Thanks for this conversation. It has generated a topic I plan to write about in the future.

Heather said...

Congrats Sven on having such great kids. Books are a lifetime addiction, and a worthy one at that. Good job by Luke to figure out how to get the book he wanted too. I was also a very early reader and well ahead of grade. We moved a lot, and every time I'd go through the same thing with the new teacher (and/or librarian) about what my acutal reading level was. Best time was in a new class partway through 5th grade when I accurately completed the 10th grade reading assignment... :)
PS Found your blog from Nikki's site and am really enjoying it!

FrankenKristin said...

I read constantly as a youngster and I had a friend who taught me that if I couldn't check something out at the library that I could BUY it on my own at a bookstore. This is where all my babysitting money went. I remember vividly where I was (hiding) when I read that passage in Forever. I also discovered that Judy Blume wrote a book even more worthy of hiding from your parents called Wifey. This book got passed around quite a bit as well. This was quite a leap from the entire Nancy Drew collection that I had finished at the school library! I wonder what the first book that the kids 'hide' from us will be...