the reader

Gabriel is not what you’d expect in a fifth boy– he’s not ambitious or precocious(except his sense of humor) and he can’t rattle off his list of favorite sports teams. Soccer matches for him are measured by the quality of donuts rather than the number of goals and at age seven he’s never even attempted to ride a bike.

His brothers have tried to shame him, “Look at 5 year-old Sam cruising around on his two-wheeler! You’ve gotta keep up!” But Gabe blithely ignores them, retreating to his scooter and stuffed animals. He is content to just BE.

I support Gabe’s nonchalance because I am past the stage of watching milestones and comparing achievements. Truth is, I know all my kids will excel at something. They’re just remarkable little people.

My older boys aren’t very competitive either. They tend to play defenders on their soccer teams and in basketball are known for politely passing the ball. It’s not unusual for Xander to finish a basketball game and have someone say, “Dude! You scored 17 points!” And Xander shrugs because he doesn’t keep track; he doesn’t care.

But he does worry, and all my boys have wrung their hands at Gabe’s lack of interest in reading. Books are the food of life at our house. We keep both our Amazon account and our local library humming with stacks and stacks of books. A new release like The Last Olympian courses through our family like wildfire and is discussed over Cheerios and while jumping on the trampoline.

Classics, art books, language primers, biographies, nerdy science volumes and hundreds of novels fill our shelves and tables. Reading is, indeed, our family sport.

I’ve told the big boys not to worry– that Gabe will read in his own time. But they are frustrated by his stilted pronunciation and recite dimly recalled feats of their own first grade reading skills, “I read all seven Harry Potter books before I was 7.” (Um, JKR hadn’t written even two Harry Potters when you were 7.)

So, Friday, when we were leaving for the school carnival and searching for Gabe, you can imagine the joy to see him here:


reading his second book of the day (book 5 of the truly magical Magic Tree House series).


And a few days later he’s already on volume 15.


Told ya’ so.

May 21, 2009



  1. Jeanelle

    May 20, 2009

    I read starting at age 4 but I didn’t get my license until my mom woke me up shortly after my 17th birthday and said “we’re going to the DMV.” Everyone really does things in their own time. Love that he has found something to read that’s worth his time & energy (tell your big boys he’s just selective!)

  2. Kira

    May 20, 2009

    Perfect. Here I am worrying because my little 9 week old doesn’t babble like she “should”. Hopefully I will soon get to the point I can just let them take their time. My 3 year old never babbled and he has a wonderful vocabulary now. They just need to do it when THEY want to 🙂

  3. Azúcar

    May 20, 2009

    I can’t get over how much Gabe looks like your husband in that bottom picture–holy cow!

  4. Selwyn

    May 20, 2009

    Isn’t it great to see reading?

    I’m SOOOO glad my boys are bibliovores like me! Makes a trip to the library more exciting to all of than a bike ride or anything like that.

    Oh, and if your family loves books, check out the (library based) comic and GREAT shirts at – it’s a fave of mine!

  5. Christie

    May 20, 2009

    Forget sports. If I can instill a love of reading into my kids, I am a successful mother.

    Well done, you.

  6. Tracy

    May 21, 2009

    You go Gabe! I think you and Eloise are true soul mates…haters of fruit and lovers of Magic Tree House. Whatcha doin’ in 15 years???

  7. jennie w.

    May 21, 2009

    I’ve got a reluctant reader too. The books that have gotten their juices flowing have been those obnoxious Ripley’s Believe it or Not books and Guiness Worlds Records. Whatever! If they read it, I’m cool with it (although Goosebumps are a little distressing.)

  8. Linn

    May 21, 2009

    What a sight! There is NOTHING I love to see more than our kids reading. Truly, it is our family sport also. Our seven-year old is also making her way through those books. Loves them!

  9. Kate

    May 21, 2009

    So cute!! To reach the milestone of having my child read on his own is such a great success!! It is one of the joys of motherhood/parenthood. Has he read Diary of A Wimpy Kid? Weston loves those books and can’t put them down…

  10. Jan Russell

    May 21, 2009

    Clearly, he excels in the “looks” dept. – goodness he is the CUTEST boy!!! I feel this way about Harrison (A LOT) I love to read, and the passion hasn’t sparked in him, at all – sob 🙁 I’ll give it time…

  11. Melissa

    May 22, 2009

    My little Spencer is about the same age and just started reading Magic Treehouse too. He’s devouring them! So fun when they catch fire.

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