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How to Get Your Child to Read (the Dictionary)

April 25, 2013

On her 8th birthday my daughter received a code book, and for the next two weeks I was subject to a number of experiments involving arcane symbols and decoding keys. I printed out her favorite pages so she could write notes to her friends at school. And I promised – once all the bills were paid and the fridge was full of food – to buy her a big hardcover book, solely for the purpose of cutting out the middle of the pages to make a secret stash box.

That day finally came around today. As we sat inside on a beautiful April afternoon wiping our noses and sneezing, Eva finished her book and suddenly needed another. So we took a whimsical trip to Goodwill and bought her the first two Harry Potter novels (paperback), a new pair of jeans and three t-shirts, and a big hardcover book – solely for the purpose of cutting out the middle of the pages.

When we started looking for the hardcover, Eva went straight to the biggest book she could find.

“The thing is, we’re trying to camouflage the box. If someone sees ‘Lonesome Dove’ on your shelf, they might not think it fits in with your other books. We need a kid’s book.”

So we turned around and scrutinized the kids section. There weren’t many hardcover books. In fact the only one we found was a jacketless copy of the Scholastic Children’s Dictionary – illustrated. I carried it around as we shopped for clothes, then everything went into a bag.

In the car, Eva reached for the bag. But she didn’t pull out her new fantasy novels – she went right for the dictionary. She opened it up and found a pencil. “I think I’ll start on page fifteen.” She traced the rectangle she wanted me to cut. She dog-eared the page and began flipping. “Ooh, look at that,” she said. There was a picture of a beaver’s dam. Then a bison. Then she found a drawing of a building (like her daddy makes them). “It’s right in the middle. You can have the picture after it’s cut up.”

But by the time we got home, she didn’t want to cut up the dictionary. She liked it too much.

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From → True Stories

One Comment
  1. Prana permalink

    Very cool. I have dictionary-readers too. Although not by the same strategy. Think it runs in the family?

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