Ryan Trares: Reading in-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 vegetables or picking up toys or getting in the bathtub. We’ve got those under control, to a point.

But Anthony doesn’t seem to have any interest in picking up a book to read. And it had been driving me crazy.

Reading might be my favorite activity in the entire world. Books have been a constant companion from the time I was a child, when I devoured the Hardy Boys series, adventure books like “Hatchet” by Gary Paulsen and anything else I could get my hands on.

After school I’d stretch out on our porch swing, enjoying the breeze and whatever new novel I’d stumbled across. Whether on cold winter weekends or warm summer mornings, I’d have to be pulled away from whatever story I was immersed in.

My time is slightly more, shall I say, spoken for these days. But give me a free afternoon and maybe a sunny seat on the back patio, and away I go.

I read historical novels about the Age of Pirates and 1880s fossil hunters. During the winter months, it’s all Scandinavian murder mysteries, with their gloomy atmospherics set in cold far-off places. Non-fiction picks include everything from a history of the Great Lakes to the Krakatoa volcanic explosion to travelogues from over the decades

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

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

When Anthony was born, I was excited to pass my passion on to him. We read him picture book after picture book when he was a toddler, and there were a few that he asked for again and again. But he grew out of that — he’d rather build with his Legos, or play football in the backyard, or, heaven forbid, go to work on his Minecraft world on his iPad.

Getting him to sit with me while I read to him, or having him sound out the words himself, became more of a struggle.

I was concerned. But I’ve realized — just because Anthony isn’t cracking open a book when he gets home from school, he’s constantly reading.

He reads the name of songs and bands on the radio in the car. He sounds out street signs and advertisements on billboards. When we watch the news in the morning, he’s rattling off the taglines and captions to each segment.

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

I’m more at ease after making this realization. His teachers say he’s doing great, and after paying close attention, I believe it.

So maybe Anthony’s not one to lounge around, sitting quietly in the corner while his imagination runs wild. That may come later; it may not come at all.

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

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

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