This is Karson. Karson is in the 9th grade. Karson is a gamer, an amateur astronomer, a musician, and an athlete. Karson used to be a reader.
Karson is also my son.
When he was in elementary school, Karson struggled with learning to read. I didn’t know how to help him, as I didn’t go to school to teach kids to learn to read; I went to school to teach them how to analyze literature. However, that did not keep me from feeling like a helpless failure. The story of my life…
Fortunately, Karson went to a Title 1 school at the time, so he received Title 1 reading intervention with a wonderful interventionist, Ms. Norrell. She worked her magic on him for about a year and then dismissed him from the program. Her work was done, because her work was successful.
By the time Karson was in 2nd grade, he was reading with a 4th grade reading group because he had advanced rather quickly, and that was one way in which they were differentiating for him. He loved it and it seemed like he was feeling successful.
Back then, you would never see Karson without a book. He read voraciously; he read anything I would buy him or that he could check out from the library. If I was going to Little Rock, he would ask if he could go with me so that we could go to Barnes and Noble. It made my heart happy.
But then something happened during his 8th grade year, after he finished the Harry Potter series just before Christmas break. He came up to me after he closed book 7 and wrapped his arms around me. His eyes were red and damp.
“It’s over,” he said.
After spending months immersed in the magical world of Hogwarts, he didn’t think anything else could stand up to Harry Potter. He watched the movies over and over. He was in the midst of a major book hangover. He said things like, “There aren’t any other good books out there,” and “I’d read if there was something worth reading.” Then he would sulk off with a frowny face.
It’s been a year since Harry, and I’ve seen Karson read nothing for pleasure since. He reads only what’s required for school. To Kill a Mockingbird has been the highlight of his required reading over the past year and a half (He had read it before.), but he wasn’t impressed by last year’s required reading for English. He says that The Year of the Hangman was his least favorite book because it was “awful.”
“The story was okay, but I predicted the ending within the first 5 pages,” he smugly proclaimed.
His excuse as of late is that during the school year he has limited time to read recreationally because of extracurricular activities, homework, and chores. However, he somehow has time for video games and YouTube.
Karson is interested in books about sci-fi and fantasy, and his favorite book is any from the The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter series.
The worst book he ever read was Will Grayson, Will Grayson. He says, “It wasn’t a good story, and I got bored with it.”
If Karson were to write his own novel, he says that it would be a sci-fi graphic novel, probably.
Karson reads at the 11-CCR Lexile level, and he feels that as long as there is a good book to read, he will be a life-long reader. But he says he will not waste his time on “crappy books” because “there’s no time for that.”
When asked how long he gives a book before he deems it “crappy,” he says that he will usually give a book around 50-100 pages before he abandons it. The last book he abandoned was The Mark of Athena, book 3 of the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan. He says that he loved the series when he was younger, but he feels that he got “too old” to read this series, and he got bored with it.
The last book he wanted to abandon was The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, but he couldn’t abandon it because it was for a self-selected, non-fiction reading school assignment. This made me especially sad because I recommended this book to him because of his keen interest in science.
Since writing this, Karson has been given 2 books to check out, one from me and one from his dad. I’m hoping that he will read one of them over the Thanksgiving break and finally get relief from his massive book hangover.