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  Topic Review (Newest First)
03-19-2008 07:00 PM
shaved_women Actually this was brought up at a conference I went to.....

I would have to second all the ideas about comics and video game magazines, especially to start. Then maybe branch out to books about sports, maybe the Scary Stories books, they are great because they are all about 4 pages long, and I think little boys like to be scared (I know I did)

Keep your head up, try your best, know what you are doing is beneficial and try to keep a positive attitude.
03-19-2008 12:35 AM
taryn Thanks Synergy, I needed that. It's too easy to forget WHY why I was doing this in the first place! If it was easy it probably would have been done before, and it is likely why they called me in to help!

It's easy to get discouraged when an 11-year-old insults me, but I am going to try to keep puttin' along. And hey, the worst thing that could happen is an 11-year-old will think I'm a butt head. Regardless, I can chalk it up to experience and hope that I can raise my future, possible children to be happier campers than this poor fellow. Or learn that I shouldn't reproduce...either way.
03-19-2008 12:01 AM
synergy I don't think I have any constructive advice, but I wanted to applaud you for doing this. The most difficult kids to work with are the ones that need your help the most!

I agree with whoever said you should take some time out of reading and do some non reading related activities to get him to enjoy your company, and then start sneaking it in later.

There is the possibility that he will never warm up to you, and that would be awful, but please don't be discouraged. Anything you can do to help will do just that. Help.

Good luck!
03-18-2008 03:33 PM
taryn Yeah, the instruction manual actually says you're NOT supposed to force a kid. If I was his teacher or parent I could, but I'm supposed to be a mentor who helps them love reading. haha trust me, my first reaction is to be like a parent, not a best friend to a spoiled, bratty 11 year old who complains about his nanny.

But I do agree I should try to be a friend first. It is hard when he tells me I'm too serious or tells me how wonderful his other mentor was and how she was NOTHING like me.

I think for the next week or two I may just do some things completely unrelated to reading, but stick some reading in there (like get him to read the recipe to me while baking, etc). Anyway, thanks again everyone. Sigh. All I can say is that it is likely his parents who can be at least mostly blamed. I think he's actually pretty smart, and could be nice, but he's just used to doing whatever he wants all the time. BUttt I'll do what I can. I'm just trying to stay positive.

Sorry for complaining so much and being dramatic. I forgot how terrible and cruel children can be to people who mean well!
03-18-2008 03:17 PM
LifeDrngWartime See, I was thinking the opposite of what Fromper said. First get to know him more, talk to him, then talk about reading after he's more comfortable with you. Of course I've never done anything like this in my life.

Hope it starts to go more smoothly soon.
03-18-2008 02:17 PM
Fromper It kind of sounds like you're trying too hard to be his friend and not hard enough to get him reading. If he's going to be such a jerk, give it right back to him. Point to the books you brought and tell him, "You're gonna read, dammit! Now pick one!" Ok, maybe leave out the swearing. Maybe.


03-18-2008 12:46 PM
taryn Hello again!

Soo... I just got home from my mentor's school.

It was horrible. This kid is actually just plain mean. I tried to "keep my cool" and continue to smile and be positive, but he actually hurt my feelings!

I brought a BUNCH of books with me, including magazines, marvel comics, and I also brought things for drawing, and a calendar to fill in so we could plan the rest of Tuesday's with things he wants to do. My backpack was so heavy! It's a 20 minute walk, which isn't bad but by the end my back was killing me. But I was excited about what I had brought. I worked on different ideas all night instead of doing my school work...

He shut everything down. He sat there and doodled (which I said he could do) on the folders I brought.

The worst was that he told me that his OTHER mentor that left before was more fun (and I am too serious) and compared me to her throughout the time we spent together.

As I mentioned before, most mentors get time during class. I get time during his lunch hour...this means he isn't exactly happy about missing this time with his friends. I would be unhappy too.

And THEN he remembered he had some sort of gymnastics routine to do with his class that's for marks. So I went to go talk to his teacher and she said that I should let him decide. So I did, and needless to say he would rather play in the gym with his friends.

So I got to go home half an hour early (which is half of the time there) and walk back with a bunch of books that he said were boring.

I know I shouldn't let it affect me, but I'm crushed! All the other kids I have worked with really liked me and were excited when I came...I have never been told I'm too serious before in my life. This is a different environment, but I really feel that I'm not THAT bad.

I know that the kids who don't want help are likely the kids who need help the most, but I already feel like I'm wasting my time. What should I do? I'm going to talk to my caseworker (she is the one who makes matches) as well. Should I just not take him seriously? Should I forget about reading for a while until we become friends (or at least doesn't hate me)?
03-18-2008 11:02 AM
cftwo Gary Paulson books are also geared toward kids that age (Hatchet, Brian's Winter, etc.). I convinced my nephew to try reading by getting him biographies of baseball players and books of baseball stats (he's a baseball nut).

You can also go to's website and see what books they recommend for someone that age and narrow it down from there in terms of topics. They have some Goosebumps, some Star Wars, and one that caught my eye about a 6th grader who flunks English (though this might be precisely the wrong book for this kid).
03-18-2008 06:52 AM
Spidergrrl My husband is a librarian in an all boys secondary school and he finds that low readers/non readers go for magazines ( mags) or graphic novels. Good luck! Let us know.
03-17-2008 09:18 PM
taryn Yeah, I may try to get him to write his own story once he is more open. I'll ask him tomorrow though. I may try reading him a paragraph from a story and get him to draw (he mentioned to me that he likes to draw) what is happening so he can improve his reading comprehension.

I went to the library and got a bunch of marvel comics, The Adventures of Captain Underpants (I remember my little brother reading them when he was in elementary school), a kids mystery book, a Horrible Harry book, some Goosebump comics, a "boys" magazine, and a soccer encyclopedia. I tried to get a big selection so he has a choice. I think I'll tell him that the choice is a privilege, and if he wants to keep that privilege he has to promise to read with me at least 15 minutes per week. Or is that removing the "fun" part out of it?

I also put lined and blank paper in a duotang so he can write and/or draw whenever he wants.

SoooOOoo hopefully at least the marvel comics sparks his interest! Im really excited about this!! Thanks again for all of your advice. If anyone has anymore suggestions that may be helpful I wouldnt turn them down. Ill update everyone after tomorrows session is finished.
03-17-2008 08:43 PM
Chrysalis what if the two of you wrote your own story? Or if he made something up and you can help him to write it? Would that be helpful or is that doable?

Or maybe he'd like to read one of those "choose your own adventures" books. I'm not sure why but I always find reading and writing more fun if I have some control over what happens.
03-17-2008 03:42 PM
Gwendolyn If he likes movies, you could get him interested in a movie based on a book, like Lord of the Rings, and maybe start him off on The Hobbit graphic novel. My dad got it for my sister, because it's much less like reading, and more like looking at pictures.
03-17-2008 01:50 PM
taryn Thanks everyone!

I was thinking sports magazines (he likes swimming), goosebumps books (do they have those still??) and comic books as well. I actually started out reading Archie comics, so really it is whatever gets a kid interested in reading.

Hoodedclawjen -- you made a good point about just not making a big deal about his "kicking balls" comment. It seems to me that he has some self-esteem issues (who doesn't?) and he likely was thinking it would either impress me or perhaps make me laugh.

I think I was mostly daunted by the whole one hour per week thing. They brought me in when there's only a few months left for school, giving me the hour that is actually his lunch break rather than an actual school hour (so he feels bad he can't play with friends as opposed to feeling special about being able to leave during class time-- I understand his teachers reasoning though). I guess I can't expect miracles. Any type of improvement is worth it, right?
03-17-2008 01:39 PM
Nickle00 Start with Video Game magazines since you know he's already interested in video games. Find out what kind of video games he likes and then try to find books that match the criteria for the games. I hope that helps. I hate to see anyone not enjoy reading. It's one of my favorite pasttimes. My nephew never liked reading before I introduced him to Harry Potter books. I read him the first chapter or two and I did so slowly. Before I knew it, he was taking the book outta my hands and reading it himself because he said I read too slow and he wanted to know what would happen next. Mwahahahah!! Although he still LOVES video games he reads almost every day too!! Peace & Love and good luck!! Let us know how everything goes.
03-17-2008 01:10 PM
Originally Posted by Blobbenstein View Post

what about comics? it would be a start.

I used to like Asterix and Obelix.

Good call, but for a 6th grader (usually 11-12 years old), I'm thinking more along the lines of Spider-Man, Batman, or the X-Men.

As others have suggested, ask him what he's interested in. Maybe ask if he likes superhero movies and use that as a lead-in to the comic book reading.

If he's more into sports, then maybe start with a book of sports statistics or trivia. Isn't there a sports edition of Trivial Pursuit? Maybe if he likes sports, you could get that and force him to read the questions to you when it's your turn to answer. If he can legitimately beat you at the game, that might make it fun for him.

Try to come up with similar ideas for whatever other interests he might have. I think the key is to find something he cares about and have your sessions revolve around that, with reading as just one part of it.


03-17-2008 01:09 PM
jeneticallymodified ok, one more post and i'll attempt to shutup for a bit. ( note that i sad 'attempt!)

the talking about kicking another kid in the balls thing- either he was trying to impress you, or get a rise out of you. the best thing you can do, is not get into it, and not show any big response. the more power you give that kinda talk, the more he'll revisit it- to distract you from stuff he doesn't want to do, or just to wind you up.

i'd most likely respond to it by saying, quite clearly and in a pretty clear, but flat, distainful/disapointed voice 'thats not cool' or 'that doesn't impress me', while shaking my head a bit, then move right along- get straight into talking about something else- don't discuss it, don't be drawn in, don't get cross or fuss over it. just nip it in the bud and move on.

listening: don't expect the same level of attention span or conversation as you'd get out of one of your mates. little boys (and some grown-ups) tend to have a listening span similar to the memory of fish- about 3 seconds. most of us prefer talking than listening.

when you speak, try and be concise, clear, and relevant. know where you're going with what you say before you start, and get right to it. get his attention before you start speaking by making eye contact, and using his name right at the start of the sentance. make sure he's doing a good share (at least half) of the talking- he probably has to listen to his teacher all day already, and this time will feel like 'escape' time mentally from all that listening and paying attention- he'll wanna let off a little steam.
03-17-2008 12:26 PM
jeneticallymodified another little thing thats sometimes helpful if there is a confidence issue is to level the playing field a bit by admitting your ignorance on the subject. if he loves something you don't know much about- let him know that you don't know anything about it, but that you'd like to learn, and that you'll need his help- ask him to explain it to you, tell you how it works, ask him questions, and be keen to learn about the subject- it'll really help him feel more confident in himself.

if you need to read up a little on the subject, and bring in stuff you've found, for his expert opinion and perusal *wink wink* then ya know.... just be careful not to seem false about it- that kinda thing can be smelled by a smart kid from a mile away- you gotta mean it, and base it in truth.
03-17-2008 12:11 PM
rabid_child You might try getting books of things like riddles or jokes, scary stories, or even book with video games tips in them if that's what he's interested in. Part of the problem may be he can't read well and is embarrassed by it. I honestly don't know how much they expect you to do for an hour once a week.
03-17-2008 12:00 PM
jeneticallymodified you could try stuff that doesn't seem remotely like 'reading'- and try really hard to not push the issue or make it a contrived, high pressure situation. if he hates reading, or is afraid or it, i doubt he'll appreciate or enjoy having it re-visited a lot or in a big way- it'll feel like a chore or something to dread, and thats not what you want your time together to feel like. i'm really glad you don't want to push it- cos he'll most likely push back and then nobody wins.

i've worked with kids who won't/can't/struggle with/hate reading. getting them reading ANYTHING is a very good start. if he likes football, get football cards, magazines, etc, and look at pictures, enjoy them, be interested, and randomly point out, 'ooh, it says there that so and so did 'whatever'- just don't volunteer to read the whole thing to him. if he's interested, he'll have a glance. if he likes cooking, get some basic recipe books and have fun doing that- measuring, baking, and using simple instructions. if he likes videos or games, go look at that stuff in the store and work out what the plot is from the back of the box- get a cheats magazine and work out cheat codes and walkthroughs together. if he likes motorbikes, get manuals and look up the specs. anything with words on it is pretty much reading- maps, streetsigns, comics- think outside the box, and don't forget to have fun!

eta: you might have to use a little reverse psychology if he's really resistant. you'd be suprised how well this can work. i've turned up to read with special needs kids who insist 'i'm not reading- you can't make me!' before i've even sat down. i've tended to say 'oh, ok, thats cool, this is MY magazine- you can just sit there and do whatever, I'm gonna look at these pictures and learn about this new motorbike thats coming onto the market. then i'll just sit and look at my book like its no big deal. two minutes later i've lost my magazine and someone is reading the specs... its very mysterious how these things happen.
03-17-2008 11:55 AM
Blobbenstein what about comics? it would be a start.

I used to like Asterix and Obelix.
03-17-2008 11:43 AM
taryn Hello!

I have recently become involved with the Big Brothers Big Sisters in-school mentorship program. I go to a school once a week for one hour and work one-on-one with a child having issues with a subject in school, or perhaps even social skills. The child I have been matched with was described as a "nice kid who just needs help with reading, writing and spelling." I am an English major so I was excited to help a kid with these subjects. One of the goals of BBBS is to help a child learn to love reading.

I met the child I was matched with last Tuesday, and was taken by surprise. I child is a 6th grade boy who is rather new to the school (since September) and is (I guess) typical for his age. He doesn't like to read at all, and seems to only take interest in video and computer games. I don't want to force him to read, as that would make it not fun, but any attempt to get him to read (such as, we will read together 10 minutes, and then we can do something fun like play soccer for 10 minutes) was shut down.

He also had a lot of attitude and compared me to his last in-school mentor who he never had to read with. (Who actually just stopped showing up one day...:S) He wouldn't listen to me and even talked about how he kicked another child in the "balls." Nice.

Any ideas on how to get him to enjoy reading would be appreciated. Any other ideas would also be useful! I'd be willing to try just about anything. Also, how should I deal with his attitude and unwillingness to listen? Im sure there are parents and other people who work with children on this forum, so I thought I would ask. Thanks for all and any of your help in advance. =)

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