This past week was Lucy's school read-a-thon. Let me say right off the bat that of course I think that's a great idea. Kids are encouraged to turn off the TV and read with their families. I do wonder about the wisdom of having the read-a-thon right as Spring starts, rather than say, in February when nobody wants to go outside. And since our family does read all the time, I had to have several talks with Lucy about doing her best and following through on her responsibility to her class since she just wanted to ride her bike (trust me, this is pretty much the only week of the year she wants to ride her bike).
There would be prizes awarded--to the child in each grade who read the most pages (a Barnes and Noble gift certificate) and to the classroom in each grade who collectively read the most (an ice cream party).
Over the weekend, Lucy settled down to read. I went to the library by myself and picked out a few books I thought she would like. Her teacher's goal for her (since our parent-teacher conference the week before) is that she read seven chapter books before the end of the school year. Since she's never read a chapter book before, this is a pretty lofty goal. I got her a couple of the Littles books and one of the A-Z mysteries. She loves mysteries (natch), so I thought we'd give that a whirl.
She took to those right away and read and read and read. She got so into it that Darren went out and bought her a booklight so she could read under the covers at night. She read 150 pages on Saturday and 256 pages on Sunday.
When she came home from school on Monday, I asked, "How many pages did everyone read?" sure that no other first grader could have read as many as she did.
"Karen read 1,100 pages," she told me. Eleven hundred? Are you kidding me? Somehow I'm not thinking everyone was reading their chapter books. Did she read everything ever published by Dr. Suess? I saw our Barnes and Noble gift certificate sail away.
A couple days into the read-a-thon, I walked into the kitchen where she was drawing a picture. "Luce, you're supposed to dress up as a book character for school on Friday. Who do you want to be?"
"Little Witch from The Witch Family," she answered promptly.
"You cannot dress up as a witch. #1, we don't have the materials for the costume, and #2, you go to Christian school," I told her.
"Then I want to dress up as the author, Miss Eleanor Estes," she said, continuing to color.
"You cannot dress up as Miss Eleanor Estes--even though that's an original idea--because we don't know what she looked like and no one would know who you were anyway," I answered.
Later on I looked up a picture of her, and she looks like this. I don't think I'm prepared to have Lucy's bangs cut this short.
Darren finally saved the day by saying, "Why don't you go as Lucy from Narnia? That would be perfect for you."
Lucy was thrilled by that, so I figured out an outfit that looked like a school uniform but was not, in fact, the uniform that my Lucy wears to school every day because that would just be too embarrassing. She wore a little plaid skirt, a cardigan sweater, a trenchcoat, and carried a bag I found in the attic that looked like a school satchel, rather than her usual backpack. Oh, and knee socks. Knee socks are very important. I wish I had a picture of her dressed up, but I was gone from Thursday to Saturday so...no dice.
Overall, it was a great week. Like I said, we read a lot anyway, but I got to see Lucy get excited about chapter books and, for the first time, read something completely independent of me and then come tell me about it.
One night, when I went into her room to check on her, she said, "Mom, I found a mistake in this book that the author should have fixed before she sent it out to all those bookstores." Then she told me, "If I win the read-a-thon, I'll be able to get a gift certificate to Barnes and Noble and I can buy some of these A-Z Mysteries for my very own self!"
I held her little face in my hands and said, "Honey, you're probably not going to win the read-a-thon. It sounds like other kids have read more pages than you have. But you have worked so hard and done your best. I can't believe how far you've come in your reading. No matter who wins, I'll take you to Barnes and Noble and you can pick out two books of your choice."
When I came downstairs and told Darren that conversation, he said, "Take her to Borders and then have her go on amazon.com, so she can learn how to price check too. Barnes and Noble overcharges for their books."
All that aside, below is what I consider to be the greatest reward of the read-a-thon: Book light, $12.99 at Radio Shack; A-Z Mystery, $3.59 currently at Barnes & Noble; sitting on the couch and reading to your sister, priceless.