What? You’re not listening?

I love books. Absolutely. No questions asked. Give me a good book that I can sink into and I’ll mourn the loss of my new friends at the end of it. I laugh. I cry. And I’m just talking about kids’ books here.

More than anything, I want to instill this love into my children. I’ve done everything I can. My house is cluttered with books – look around and you’ll see bookcases and bookcases booksof books. At any given moment you’re likely to stub your toe on a book on the floor (after you gingerly step over the recently fired Nerf gun bullet and landed on the sharp edge of a Lego, that is!). I treasure the “favorite” books (list below). I gift the boys a new book for their birthday and for Christmas with sweet love messages written on the inside cover. I read to them every single (almost) night. I even recorded every book I read to Super Tall Guy throughout a whole year once. (Mr. Ornery – I started, but I definitely read less to him. And Poor Little Guy….well, they read a lot at the day care center!)

But I am waging a battle against the lure of a flat screen and the opinion that the “movie” version is the way it’s “supposed to be.” I can’t seem to get across the concept that an author actually sat down and WROTE the book first with the complete intent that the reader should create in their own heads what the characters actually looked like and what really happened.

I know that Super Tall Guy could care less about “reading the book first” before watching a movie. I thought it endearing when we would get to below 50 or so pages of a Harry Potter book and he would bring it to me in bright daylight and ask me to read so we could finish the book! And of course, his motivation was to get to see the movie on the weekend, knowing that I’d put it off until the following “movie night” time if we didn’t get that book done in time. I thought we at least had something great going.

Until tonight when he completely deflated me. We are reading “Fish in a Tree” (even though there’s no movie to dangle at the end) and every once in a while I like to stop and ask a question, partly to check on his level of alertness (ie, “is he asleep yet?” though the snoring should tell me!) and partly to bring home a good point that may have been made. Tonight when I stopped and turned to ask a question, he said, “Mom, I never actually listen to what you’re reading. I just like to hear you talk.”

“What?!?” I said, “You’re not listening?!? Since when?”

He replied, “Since you started reading Harry Potter” (like over a year ago!) “I just wanted to get to the end to watch the movie. That’s why I play while you’re reading. I’m not really paying attention.”

I laughed and playfully punched him. But also felt a bit sad. I thought in my head, well, I could just read my own books aloud if all he wants is the drone of my voice as white noise to fall asleep by. I might just try reading my Internal Medicine Board Review book aloud tomorrow night!

But I shall persist. Because somehow and in some way, I’m determined to make a reader out of these boys. To bury within them the love of pages. To develop a deep yearning for learning through stories of others’ lives and the printed word. To help them know the comfort of snuggling under covers with a good book in hand. To set them on adventures in new worlds and with different people. To live. To learn. To grow.

Well, we certainly aren’t getting in the recommended “20 minutes” of reading every night and Mr. Ornery struggles to read fluently, and Super Tall Guy clearly isn’t listening, but I shall battle on!

Here are some of the books we’ve loved:


  • Goodnight Gorilla
  • Goodnight Moon
  • Where’s Spot
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar
  • Five Little Monkeys


  • Library Lion – absolutely love – almost cry every time
  • I Need My Monster – have read too many times!
  • Tony Baloney Buddy Trouble
  • Fly Guy – any of them
  • Robert Munsch – any of his!

8-9 (that’s as far as we are):

  • Harry Potter
  • Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Super Tall Guy probably stopped listening to me when we started this as our first “longer” chapter books)
  • Holes
  • I Survived …. Series
  • Magic Tree House…. – read many of these





2 thoughts on “What? You’re not listening?

  1. I relate so, so much to your posts as a mom of two boys. I have an 11 year-old who HATES reading. It breaks my heart, but I continue to encourage, research, purchase, encourage more, beg, etc., him to read! I won’t give up hope!

    • Isn’t it crazy?! I’ve tried comic books, graphic novels, humor….still…no independent reading! But until last night, I was comforted that at least he was getting literature through my reading to him! 😉

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