Thursday, December 28, 2006

Reading Is Fundamental

It’s Thursday night, which can mean only one thing – Thursday Night Dinner With Elizabeth & Toby. It’s been that way for years, and so it was tonight. After a dinner of muffaleta, gyros, hummus and falafel, Elizabeth played Candyland with C, JP and S. And after that, naturally, the kids wanted to play another game with Aunt Elizabeth. However, Elizabeth wanted to sit and talk with the adults, so JP found a game to play with just his siblings, but C didn’t want to play without Elizabeth, so JP and S were going to play by themselves. Now, here’s the problem, and here is where it gets difficult for me to talk about it, for no parent wants to admit to the shortcomings of his own offspring. This game had cards with directions that would need to be followed, but neither JP nor S can read. In fact, neither can GK. That’s right, three out of four of my kids are illiterate. I don’t know what the current national average is, but it seems that three-fourths of the kids in one house not knowing how to read is pretty high. I’d like to blame the schools, their teachers, but the truth is I first have to look at myself, their father. And then immediately at their mother, who is also a teacher! She should know better! She teaches kids all day long, you’d think she’d be able to teach her own four-year-old how to read a simple sentence. C can read just fine, I should mention, and we’re all very proud of him. Well, his mother and I are proud, his sisters and brother just think it’s funny when he holds the papers with the funny black spots in front of his face and silently moves his lips.

Kristy and I are avid readers, and we’d like to think that our children will be just as enthusiastic about it, but the truth is we’re off to a slow start. We don’t expect them to jump right in with Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Ayn Rand or Somerset Maugham, but something a little more difficult than being able to recognize a picture of Queen Frostine would be welcome. Especially for JP, he’s five for Pete’s sake! I can see it coming, no matter how far off it seems, though. Why, just tonight, GK was slobbering all over the latest issue of The New Yorker, and we all know it’s just a small step from gumming a magazine cover to pretending to understand the cartoons within those covers.