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First of all (and most closely related to the icon above) there's this:

The Whirlwind does not like to read or be read to, AT ALL. It is just hard for her to sit still that long, and she has resisted any book longer than a picture book like most kids resist a healthy serving of Spinach Liver Mushroom Surprise. That includes when we read them to her, and keep in mind that Beloved Husband and I are not the type to read haltingly in a monotone. We try to make it exciting, a dramatic production. We read with expression, and if it's me, I do the voices and accents. Beloved Husband, who knows what his strengths are and are not doesn't do accents, but does do voices. Neither of us are expecting an Academy Award or anything, but we do try to provide interest, and each one of my kids have been notable standouts among their classmates for reading with expression, because it never occurs to them that it would be otherwise. Be that as it may, I've carefully chosen chapter books that will speak to The Whirlwind's interests, and she has HATED having them read to her, even when she has loved the books when we get to the end of them. Reading, she hates it, she hates it, she does!

Well recently Beloved Husband went to a conference about treating a wide spectrum of childhood problems and disorders with in the context of the whole family. The man who was speaking was basically trying to transmit the message that what ever a kid's problem, whether it is ADHD, depression, teen drug use, etc., etc., etc., it cannot be divorced from genetics and the family setting. Okay. Well, duh! Little apples don't fall far from trees, but in our case, The Whirlwind is a graft, and although she is very much part of the whole, we can only take responsibility for the nurture part of the nature/nurture environment.

There was an interesting series of studies the man quoted, though, which showed some improvement in executive functioning following a program of daily reading to Bach's The Well-Tempered Clavier. We suspect that any reasonable baroque keyboard works would do, although The Well-Tempered Clavier is notably spare, with a great deal of structure and counterpoint. We had already decided that The Whirlwind would have to earn TV by reading, because we knew what the more time she put in, the more fluent she became (she already reads well above grade level, in spite of putting little time in, but every bit helps) the more she could get sucked in to what she read. Based on the study (which we view with healthy skepticism, remembering well all the Mozart Effect hysteria of a few years back, which has not resulted in a spate of super-intelligent babies) we decided that it wouldn't hurt her, and who knows, it might help, so we told her that she would need to sit and read for half an hour each day, no excuses, while listening to music of our choosing. Turns out she really likes the Well Tempered Clavier.

So there she was, doing her daily reading, with a book I'd picked out for her as being right up her alley, a novel-length retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, and when she was done, she said "You know Mom, I never knew before that reading could be so much fun!"


I have no illusions that this will mean that she will suddenly morph into a bookworm. She is who she is, and she will always be a moving target. She will always prefer to do and actively experience, rather than read about it. But at least she now sees what all the fuss is about, and there is nothing more wonderful than transmitting a great joy and delight to a one's offspring.

And in other news, Only Son, who has been looking for a regular paid, salaried job in his field since he prepared to graduate in May of 2011 with a degree in computer science and a minor in philosophy, has finally landed one. As of tomorrow he will be a salaried employee. Mind you the salary is peanuts, but it comes with bennies and paid vacation and EVERYTHING. A real job.



( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 10th, 2012 12:56 am (UTC)
This is actually very interesting to me because my day job is all e-books. From programming the readers to coming up with products to help reluctant, esl and other readers with issues. I was unaware of the study you referred to though and I'm definitely going to check it out. One thing we've found with the ebooks, and I suppose it can be adapted with coloured films to regular books, is that colour makes all the difference to some readers. Both font colour and page background colour. Often times the contrast makes it harder or easier to process text. It's fabulous that you are so persistent though and thanks for sharing your results!

And congrats to your son who is, in my humble, nerdy opinion in the right field. Computer science rocks! :-)
Oct. 10th, 2012 01:21 am (UTC)
Oooh, that's interesting. I have Nooks and computers, so I'll have to check in with The Whirlwind to see whether that makes a difference to her.

I suspect, ultimately, it's more a case of the severity of her ADHD making it hard for her to "carry" information in a mental buffer, compared to her peers, and also making it simply difficult for her to stay still enough to not be overwhelmed by the sensory input of chair fabric on legs, fingers on paper, and so on. Still, brains are tricksy organs, and it certainly behooves us to check any leads out.

So... Thank YOU for sharing.

And thank you for identifying yourself too. I have no particular objection to anonymous postings, and I was actually kind of tickled that a passerby would take the time to comment, but it's even nicer when that someone is a friend, as I'm sure you know!

And yeah, so far two kids launched, and one is in IT, and the other is a computer science major. Sister and brother, and they hang out and game with their friends together, and watch sci-fi. We raise fine nerd here, and we're proud of that!
Oct. 10th, 2012 01:49 pm (UTC)
And do your nerd kids ever check into Wil Wheaton's blog? He has been writing one for several years, I stumbled across it somehow a few years ago, and it's been good to see him become happier and more fulfilled, finally, as he's been getting better acting jobs (on shows he adores, like Big Bang Theory and Eureka) but the reason I want you to know about it is that he has a lot of "nerdy" things, there, gaming, etc., so point your family there if you haven't already read any of it. I assume you are all Star Trek fans? I have been for decades.
Oct. 11th, 2012 03:04 am (UTC)
Yes, actually, they do. More for the gaming than for the Trek connection. I saw it referenced in someone's blog post, when Wil took a firm stand on some issue (I can't at this point remember which issue, because I wholeheartedly agreed with him on whatever it was, and would be far more likely to remember if I had vehemently disagreed). I mentioned the blog to them, and they checked it out out of curiosity, and stayed for the gaming.

As for Trek, It was an establisher of a fandom pattern that I have repeated with Stargate. I loved the original series. I got hooked on it because it was the only good thing on the TV at the only time of day when I had free access to the set, but - alas! - I could only watch the first half to three quarters of each show before my family came home, and I had to turn it off because my mother considered it terribly unsuitable for my preschool and early grade sibs. It wasn't until I got to visit my dad or my grandmother that I could find out how they ended. This meant, amusingly enough, that my grandmother became a besotted and devoted William Shatner fan, who was enormously proud of having won a copy of A Shot in the Dark signed by The Man Himself, who had played the Clouseau role on Broadway.

But I digress. I loved Original Trek, and the other series I enjoyed, but never had any desire to see more than once through. I haven't seen all of Enterprise or any of Voyager. Similarly, I love SG-1, and was happy to watch Atlantis and Universe, but haven't really had any desire to see those mor than once.

Icon is in response to your own!

Edited to fix an HTML error. One little slash missing and it gets all hissy on me!

Edited at 2012-10-11 03:06 am (UTC)
Oct. 10th, 2012 03:22 am (UTC)
Parenting WIN. :D
Oct. 11th, 2012 02:11 am (UTC)
Yes! Exactly!

*dances happily off - tappeta-tappeta-tappeta*
Oct. 10th, 2012 01:51 pm (UTC)
As a former librarian, for 30 years, it breaks my heart that so many people don't find the joy in reading, that I always have.

I hope this new music thing will help your youngest so she can finally get to enjoy it, at least somewhat.

Keep up your good work!
Melissa M.
Oct. 11th, 2012 02:26 am (UTC)
Yeah, I'm the daughter of a writer. One of my grandmothers was a bookbinder. My maternal grandfather's legacy to his three grown children (his real property and money was left for the maintenance and education of his minor child) was a vast collection of books. My other grandfather made a career out of studying Roman history and teaching Latin because he read a historical fiction for boys by G.A. Henty, and fell in love. My mom teaches Classical Civ. and Greek and Latin classes, because she had an affinity based on reading Padraic Colum's books on mythology for kids. Both my families (my parents were divorced when I was quite young) surrounded me with books. In our family, getting one's first library card garnered all the pride and attention that First Communion attracts in some others. Reading is vital!

And thank you for your work as a librarian. Librarians get such a bad rap as the ultimate buzz-killing fuddy-duddies of this world, but my life has been so very greatly enriched by librarians who took the time to get to know me and my passions, and who have led me to books and ideas that have opened whole new worlds of discovery to me. Somehow, along the way, purely by example, they also transmitted to me the knack of doing the same for my own kids, much to their benefit. Being a librarian is not at all about shushing the unruly, but about helping open up the world of books to others!
Oct. 11th, 2012 03:08 am (UTC)
I was never of the "shusher" school, though I knew some who were, unfortunately. I always wanted people to enjoy their time in my library, and mostly, I think they did. (though there were a few really unruly ones who did get a "quiet!" reminder, some even booted out, as we had kids who came in after school and many needed some time outside letting off steam rather than talking at the top of their voices to their friends in our small library).

But the norm was an overall good bunch of people who I enjoyed and tried to help find good books that they'd like, and who seemed to appreciate me and the library.

I even had a wonderful note a couple of years ago from a former patron (I'd known him from birth, didn't have much contact after he went off to college) who's gone on to become an attorney and a prosecutor. I wrote him after Robert B. Parker, a mystery author we had both liked and talked about at the library, died, and he wrote back a wonderful note about how much those Spenser books had, and still, meant to him and added: "the greatest thing a librarian can do is introduce a child to books that will capture his imagination for decades and shape the person he hopes to become--you did that for me and I thank you for it.", which meant so much to me. So I overall have felt blessed in my 30 years as a public librarian--connecting people and books I always felt was a high calling, really!

Melissa M.
Oct. 11th, 2012 03:30 am (UTC)
It is, it surely is!
Oct. 10th, 2012 07:22 pm (UTC)
Yay, awesome! On both counts!

I'm with The Whirlwind, I hate being read to and always have. I can't even listen to audiobooks. I feel completely disconnected from the words if they're coming via someone else. It's great that you've found a way to get her into reading and in a way she enjoys. :)
Oct. 11th, 2012 02:43 am (UTC)
I think I would have felt as you do about being read to if my exposure to it had been solely from having my grandfather read to me. He (b. Feb. 13, 1900) always read in such a gravely serious and Victorian manner - which made Alice in Wonderland still more confusingly surreal than it should be! - that it was all a bit off-putting. But I adored my dad, and he somehow had a manner of delivery that took you away from the business of words and sound, and transported you off into the wold of the story.

I agree with you, though, about the audiobooks. Beloved Husband likes to have a story reading on long car trips, and I find that listening to an audiobook is infuriating! There's something in the way that it insists that it have all your attention NOW!, because it won't stop like a live human reader to comment on the passing scene, or to let the listener process the moment before proceeding onward. We compromise by having me pick out a book I've loved to read to him, instead. If it were up to me we'd always travel with music instead. On the chunks I drive, that's what we do.

I did have a record of Basil Rathbone reading Kipling's Just So Stories as a child that I just adored. He managed to make the crocodile, lying in wait for the Elephant's Child in the "great, grey-green, greasy Limpopo river all set about with fever trees" seem so satisfyingly sinister!
Oct. 10th, 2012 09:31 pm (UTC)
Oct. 11th, 2012 02:44 am (UTC)
Yes, yes, yes! Very much so.

With so much complaining going on in the world today, it's always delightful when a bit of glee runneth over.
Oct. 11th, 2012 08:57 am (UTC)
That is wonderful news!!! Go the Whirlwind!
Oct. 12th, 2012 03:39 am (UTC)
Yes it is! Much glee is ensuing.
Oct. 11th, 2012 04:02 pm (UTC)
Fantastic news all around! Congrats to the Whirlwind and Only Son!

I thought of the Whirlwind the other day while re-reading some Rick Riordan to catch up before reading his most recent release. Has she ever read the Percy Jackson or Kane Chronicles series? I remember a librarian telling me that whenever parents bring reluctant readers to her library, she recommends The Lightning Thief, and the kids almost universally come back for the next book in the series. They're action-packed, which might help to keep her interested, and as a matter of fact, almost all the kids in the series have ADHD (due to their natural demigod battle reflexes). And since you've mentioned that the Whirlwind enjoys Egyptology nearly as much as you do, the Kane Chronicles might also be fun for her?

I'm now curious to check out The Well-Tempered Clavier...

(This may not be exactly the right icon for this topic, but I'm using it because it includes a book.)
Oct. 12th, 2012 03:24 am (UTC)
I will definitely look into The Lightning Thief but I think that one of the reason that it goes over so well with reluctant readers is that a vast number of those are boys, and what they want is action, and nothing mushy, please. Rick Riordan offers that in spades. The Whirlwind is all boy in her activity level, the games she wants to play, and her tendency to rush cheerfully in where the angels fear to tread, but inside is definitely a little girl, and what she wants is a nice romance, preferably with princesses. This summer I read her Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Little Princess and right now she's reading Jessica Day George's Princess of Glass (an off-kilter retelling of Cinderella) which is a sequel to Princess of the Midnight Ball, itself a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. She seems to like those.

The version of The Well-Tempered Clavier that we have is by Andreas Schiff on the piano. I'm all for Early Music and original instruments, but I find that I can only stomach the harpsichord in limited doses. Besides since my dad studied piano at Juilliard, I'm used to first hearing all these things played in the home live on piano.
Oct. 12th, 2012 01:03 am (UTC)
woohoo!!! sends mental high-five to both Wind and Mum! :D

and best wishes to philosophizing programmer :)
between OH always looking for a better job and father doing same, and neither finding much to apply for and getting zip response.. very best congratulations for him!

-am listening to Clavier as I've been going through posts- ..would not be my choice of music to listen to, too.. sharp? and insistent of getting attention, yet not delivering something that *keeps* it happily... that said, I can easily imagine that someone who has trouble keeping *themselves* focused might find those sharp and firm and quick notes, on a clear and straight pattern to act as sergeant-major for wandering thoughts, tugging them back into rank

anyway, lol, whatever works is good, by the grace of the Asgard and the Vulcans. oh -changes icon to honor TOS instead of twirling dance :D-

ETA, oh! and I meant to disclose the odd little mental travel of remembering that I have pictures of myself as a very young child on each of my parents' laps being read to... but zero zip no memory of being read to (not that I have much memories at all , esp of childhood)... but now I'm curious if I can identify the books from the pictures, lol!

Edited at 2012-10-12 03:37 am (UTC)
Oct. 12th, 2012 03:37 am (UTC)
Yeah, Only Son went off to college with the avowed intention to have a double major in Drama and Computer Science, but didn't see eye to eye with the drama department, but loved the philosophy he took. It suits him.

I don't think I'd go for The Well-Tempered Clavier if it were performed on the harpsichord. I like original instruments as much as the next person, because I'm an archaeologist, and it appeals to the time-traveller wannabe in me, but my father studied piano at Juilliard, so I first heard all these pieces as they were performed by him on the piano, and that's the way they sound best to me. We have a version by Andreas Schiff on piano, and I love that. But then again, to me they sound like a time of quiet contentment in my childhood, with the smell of dinner soon to come wafting through the air, a good book before me, and the sound of my father practicing in the background. It was the time of day when he was most at piece with himself and the world, and it made the house a contented, cozy place.

Now obviously, what you need is a gif of that scene where Spock and Kirk, wearing their laurel crowns, are being forced to do their little dance for the philosopher king!
Oct. 12th, 2012 04:07 am (UTC)
LOL!... would that be a different one than the one where kirk is lying on the floor and spock cosack dances his way around his head?

oh yes.. that piano much better! much less annoying and more background-appropriate
Oct. 12th, 2012 04:22 am (UTC)
That would be the one! [Although I was thinking more of the moment when they are upright and dancing in unison, and chanting anachronously about Tweedledee and Tweedledum.]

I find that the harpsichord is good for experiencing what the contemporary listener would have heard, but the piano is much better for hearing the beauty and structure of the music. I can only tolerate the harpsichord in limited doses. There are some things that should only be performed on harpsichord (cf. My Lady Carey's Dompe here on YouTube) but Bach, Scarlatti, and Telemann are all perfectly delightful on the piano.
Oct. 13th, 2012 12:32 am (UTC)
lol, think I have seen that at some point. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srzXnDa2rw4
Oct. 13th, 2012 01:18 am (UTC)
Yes. Just that clip.

Oh, and btw, I was a little sleep deprived when I wrote that last comment. I meant to type "anachronistically" (because how would folks who wandered away from Earth in Classical times know about Lewis Carroll?) instead of "anachronously". Their synchrony wasn't great, but it wasn't notably awful, either. Upon mature reflection, neither was right, because if I recall correctly, the indigenous bullies were space age Earth folk who modeled themselves after the Ancient Greeks rather than actual Ancient Greeks.
Oct. 13th, 2012 02:17 am (UTC)
lolz! don'tcha hate when your brain insists on thinking through scifi?

I started to rewatch TOS a few months ago but then got..
holy crap.. I just realised that 'few months' was last year at this time ( halloween)... yikes...,
anyway, got sidetracked and this ep didn't make it. so I don't recall the specifics of the plot.

I did wonder what you meant, I intended to ply the clip with sound after OH went to bed to see if they were singing in some offbeat pattern I wasn't familiar with.. lol.
Nov. 5th, 2012 07:38 pm (UTC)
Yay I used to love reading when I was younger and I still do and I love it when kids get into reading and really like it. I used to be one of of those kids (if there are any, who knows maybe it was just me!) who would act out all the books I read. Really!

When I read Enid Blyton's Malory Towers series which I loved, I used to refer to my room as my dormatory, and called my homework "prep". I took over one of out coffee tables in the living room and that was my "locker". I put all my school books in there and put my trainers and hockey stick and tennis racket right beside it. If that wasn't bad enough, there was the Heidi stage where I had to eat bread and cheese all the time, and the Famous Five stage where I'd make sandwiches and and wrap them up in a pack with some ginger beer and go off somewhere dragging my poor border collie dog with me (usually the garden or the stairs and landing which were my "caves and tunnels". Sadly he was not called Timmy and refused to answer to it! lol.

Yes I was a bit strange! Anyway I digress...Its great for kids to find a book that they enjoy whatever that book is and I'm glad that this way is working and she is getting enjoyment out of it.

And congrats to your son too on the job news!

x x
( 26 comments — Leave a comment )



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