When I was a kid, I hated writing thank-you notes. My grandmother made me write them. Now that I’m older, I appreciate her wisdom (and I make my kids write them, too.) So here’s a belated note: Thanks, J.K. Rowling–not for helping my son LEARN to read–but for helping him to learn to LOVE reading.
You see, in preschool my son had no interested in learning his ABCs. None. I tried everything: we played letter-recognition games, traced shaving-cream letters in the bath, and I’d read to him every night. Nothing clicked. He entered kindergarten not knowing all 26 letters. Oh, the parental guilt! (The fact that I make a living as a writer of CHILDREN’S BOOKS made it even worse!) He continued to struggle in first grade and was given extra reading help. I continued at home with phonics and sight words. But he never wanted to read.
He did appreciate a good story though, and that’s when the magic of Harry Potter worked on my son. He was nowhere near ready to read the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, on his own. Instead, we read it aloud together. I would read a few pages, then he’d labor to read a page, then I’d read a few more. As we moved on to the second book, his skills slowly improved, and he’d read more pages.
By the time we reached the third book, my reluctant reader was nearing the end of second grade. His skills had improved to the point where he was able to bring the book to school to read on his own. Then came that special day: usually, he’d come home from school, toss the backpack, and be off to play. But this day, he stepped off the bus, sat down on the grass, and READ! He couldn’t wait to finish the book. At that moment, I knew he was hooked. He loved to read.
So thank you, Ms. Rowling. Because of your wonderful stories, my son learned just how magical a book can be.