Thursday, May 30, 2013

Why I'm Embracing Underpants

Captain Underpants

Come on, people. This is a family show. (eye roll)

Anyhoo, back in the day, BC (before children), I was kind of a book snob.

Okay, let me try that again. I'm kind of a book snob.

In the spirit of honesty, I'm just going to own it: I'm a total book snob. I can't help it, it was how I was raised. When your father is a high school English teacher, you learn to respect books. Good books. Books worthy of reading. We've already established that I love books. (Books I Love Link) I won't continue to go there but I just wanted to make sure you had the background to appreciate where I'm going with this. Stick with me.

When I was a kindergarten teacher, I carefully chose the books that graced my shelves. If there wasn't a Caldecott* or a Carle** on the cover, I scrutinized it very carefully. Only the best books made the cut & I felt great about it. Everyone didn't share my sentiment. Scholastic book orders would go home & come back with multiple orders of Dora the Explorer. I used to think to myself, "Didn't they see the beautiful book on page 2? Why would they order that junk?" Obviously, they didn't know what I knew about good literature.

When I decided to become a SAHM, those same beautiful books came home with me. I immersed my children in detailed, vibrant stories with award-winning illustrations. I scoffed at the "junk" in the book orders. My goal in all of this: to instill a love of reading that mirrored my own. I wanted my boys to run to the library & get lost in the sea of words & rich language. I wanted them to eagerly anticipate the arrival of the next book in the series, to wait with baited breath to find out what happens next.

Be careful what you wish for...

Fast forward 7 years & it's curriculum night in my son's first grade class. I'm there basically to make sure I don't miss something vital,  but I'm prepared for a snooze fest since I already know most of this stuff. I'm a veteran teacher, I've got this.

The teacher starts talking about reading & how the school assesses reading levels. She talks about the goal for the end of the year & how she's going to challenge children who are already reading at or above that goal.

And then she said something that blew my mind:

"When children reach a certain reading level, I no longer monitor what they're reading. They can choose from any book bin." 

Uh.... okay. I can get on board with that, I guess. A little freedom is always a good thing.

And finally came the kicker:

"I don't care what they're reading as long as they're reading." 

I'm sorry... what?

You don't care what kids are reading.

Is this for real? I'm sitting in a classroom with a highly regarded teacher in one of the best school districts in the state & she doesn't care what my kid is reading?

I'm going to need a minute.

She went on to finish:

"In my experience, I've found that children are more likely to enjoy reading when they are reading something of high interest. Once your child has mastered the necessary skills, I want to develop a love for reading that extends throughout your child's lifetime." 

Okay, now I can get on this train.

I decided to go with it. God has blessed me with bright kids so we met that goal quickly & my son was free to choose whatever he wanted to read. He bounced along a couple of different series before landing on this one:

The irony is not lost on me.

But you know what? He loves to read, like I love to read. He eagerly waits for the next book in the series & buries himself in it until he's finished. He can't wait to find out what happens next. His Captain Underpants is my Babysitters Club. And that I completely get. 

Read on, caped wonder. Preferably with your pants on.

*Caldecott is an award bestowed on only the best in the kid-lit world
**Carle is Eric Carle; if you have little kids & don't know him, shame on you 

What's on your bookworm's list? Share with me in the comments or on twitter @preschoolmomma 


  1. Both of the older boys love to read. One of the mediums we gravitated towards early on for the boys to help encourage reading is Comic books. There are a lot of age appropriate comics that give the boys more insight on their favorite Superheros, Star Wars characters and favorite TV shows. From comics and books like Captain Underpants, Evan has moved on to Harry Potter, the Percy Jackson series and now the Hardy Boys. We have even found that Audio Books are a great way to get them into new stories.

  2. Plus once a year there is a Free Comic Book day. The boys love going to that and seeing some of their favorite characters dressed up while getting new reading material.

    1. Great suggestions! Comic books are a big hit in our house too. It's good to know that there's hope for him moving onto Harry Potter soon! ha ha :)

  3. When Ben and Lauren started reading (both early and well), you'd find me at the library, my list of "100 Top Classics for Kids" in hand, picking out some tough books for them. Reading meant reading the classics, right? Then came Erin, who could have cared less if she ever learned to read, and who now happily reads Magic Tree House and Junie B. Jones. Last week at the library, she looked at me while holding a copy of Charlotte's Web and said, "Seriously, Mom, this was the most boring book ever!" Lauren gasped and I might have blinked away a few tears, but point made. It took me a long time to relax my reading "standards" and just. let. them. read!

    1. We own the classics too & they're getting dusty on the bookshelf. I know they've love them if they gave them a shot... a mom can dream!

  4. I love this post, Joy! As a teacher, I was in the same boat as you. I believe in choice, but how much...but developing that love of reading is SO important that if Captain Underpants does it, well...the household will all need to learn to salute. I still talk to my classes about Babysitter's Club and waiting for the next one to come out. By the way, I always tell my students about the time we waited on the NKOTB video to come out when I teach allocation methods...I also share that your parents made us string green beans. ��

    1. Thanks, Abby! I'll always remember riding to the mall with you to get that next Babysitters Club book. Oh, & I'm still stringing beans...

  5. I sat in that same meeting and it completely changed the way I looked at what my boys were reading. I realized they didn't always have to read at their level and to embrace them reading for fun. Now I have one that loves to read any chance he gets and hope the younger two learn to love it as well.


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