How “Holes” turned my son on to reading
Turning boys on to reading is difficult as most parents will attest, and our son was no exception. Luckily we recently discovered the YA novel “Holes” by Louis Sachar, which is also number 1 on my list of books read this month. This book has the distinction of being the first fiction novel my about-to-turn 10yo son has actually asked me to buy for him!
We read to both our kids from the time they were babies, through their toddler years and beyond, but somehow the ‘love-to-read’ gene just seemed to go dormant once my son hit primary school. He lost interest – even when I read them aloud. That’s not to say he didn’t read at all, but it was generally more flicking through non-fiction books he chose from the library, usually about dinosaurs, space, volcanoes, planes and the like, which frankly, are not much fun to read aloud to a young child! (Think more explaining concepts and ideas than actual reading.)
I’ve brought him heaps of various fiction titles over the years, hoping he’d become an avid reader like me, his dad and his sister. We’ve bought Captain Underpants, Astrosaurs, Captain Fact and various other illustrated delights which he seemed to enjoy, but when it came to something a bit more meaty – i.e. a novel without any pictures – he just wasn’t interested. We thought we had a winner with R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series but alas, he quickly went back to his Horrible Histories and books about fighter planes, computers and so forth – all with pictures, of course.
So daughter and I got stuck into the likes of Artemis Fowl, the Alex Rider books, Harry Potter etc. and even though we raved about them, they just languished unread in his room. I even brought a couple of graphic novel versions of books we already had, namely Artemis Fowl and Stormbreaker, hoping he’d read those then be inspired to tackle the actual novels… Nope. At least not until very recently. And we have Mrs Steel, his teacher, to thank!
So how did his teacher manage something his reading-mad mother had not been able to accomplish – and not for lack of trying! You see, my son is in a combined Year 5/6 class and his teacher began reading a chapter of Louis Sachar’s “Holes” to the class every afternoon. Unfortunately, my son had the whole appendicitis thing happen and thus was off school and missed the last couple of chapters. Then it was straight into the school holidays, so he had no opportunity to borrow the book from his teacher. He told me all about what had happened so far but he was really disappointed not to know how it ended.
I promised I’d buy him the book – provided he read the entire thing and not just the last chapters. So he did. And when questioned, told me all about it with a great deal of enthusisam which is usually sadly lacking from him when it comes to books. So on his recommendation I read the book too, and I can definitely see why it appealed. Quite sophisticated for a 10yo boy, but it’s just sooooo tight and so brilliantly written! It’s done the rounds with his sister, too – quite a coup for him to have read something before his older sister!
So when he got back to school, my son was able to tell his teacher his mum had bought the book and he’d read the entire thing all on his own. She was so impressed by this she lent him the DVD of the movie adaptation she’d shown to the class in his absence. Again, brilliant! Sachar wrote the screenplay for the movie, thus it was a faithful adaptation of his novel and the better for it. It was a movie the entire family loved – I’d even go so far as to stick my neck out and recommend it. Had all of us chuckling in appreciation of Sachar’s wit and ability to weave past and present together in such a thoroughly entertaining way. BTW, the novel has the best first chapter I’ve read in a while – very short but really captures you.
So where does that leave my son? Interspersed with his beloved non-fiction book he’s finally discovering all those books I’ve bought him that have been sitting gathering dust in the bookcase – yay!
Inspired by “Holes” my reading list for May includes a number of YA novels I’ve had the pleasure of re-reading, plus the Tamora Pierce series my daughter bought over the school holidays and recommended to me.
-Holes by Louis Sachar
-Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
-The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
-Trickster by Tamora Pierce
-Trickster’s Queen by Tamora Pierce
-The White Dragon by Anne McCaffrey
-Dark Moon Defender by Sharon Shinn
-P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern
-Glass Houses by Rachel Caine
-The Dead Girls’ Dance by Rachel Caine
-Midnight Alley by Rachel Caine
-Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews
-You Had Me At Halo by Amanda Ashby
-Angel With Attitude by Michelle Rowan
-Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey
-Bedded By Arrangement by Natalie Anderson
-Jennifer Scales and the Ancient Furnace by MaryJanice Davidson