Category Archives: Books

Money Well Spent

As the school year reaches its conclusion, I figured it would be a good time for me to have Kaitlyn count up the money that she earned from reading this year. It’s not that we had to bribe her or pay her to read, but given her history when it came to continuing to take AR tests after she met her goal, Amber and I had to come up with some way to keep her motivated to take the tests after about the second or third week each grading period.

Luckily for us, Amber convinced me to reduce the per point payment for excess points from a dollar to a quarter. Let’s just say that I would have been in a bit of trouble when all the cash was counted this past weekend.

For the year, Kaitlyn exceeded her total point goal by 395.84 points. She ended up banking $98.96 for the year. Not a bad payout for doing what she already loves to do…read. In fact, she’s already gotten a head start on her summer reading assignment. By “head start,” I mean that she has already read the assigned book and is making steady progress into completed the questions about the book.

Amber and I couldn’t be happier that we have such an enthusiastic reader, and I doubt that her love of reading will abate at all in middle school.

 

 

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A “Curious” Controversy

The school year is about to start tomorrow, and it seems to be a consistent thing in our district for students to get a summer reading packet and other assorted problems to work on.  I had thought it was something that was done for elementary school kids only (since Kaitlyn is in elementary school and has had summer homework every year), but I learned last week that high school students also have summer reading assigned.

Usually, I don’t give much more than a passing glance to many of the headlines in our local paper (we only get the Sunday paper anyway), but one caught my eye last week.  “Dropped reading assignment raises questions of censorship.”  I was intrigued, so I starting reading the article.  Then I was even more interested.

At one of our local high schools, the students were assigned a book called The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon.  What got me interested was the description of the narrator of the story, a 15 year old British boy attempting to figure out who killed a neighborhood dog; he is described as a “mathematical whiz, with traits similar to Asperger Syndrome.”  You can probably imagine why that would get me interested.  Curious

The boy in the novel is described further as “seeing and hearing in an almost emotionless way, including when adults around him curse or doubt the existence of God.”  That sounded really familiar.

Anyway, a week before the start of school, a local principal pulled the book from the summer reading list.  It didn’t take long to figure out why the principal made such a decision (an idiotic decision in my opinion): concerns over “the delivery of the text.”  By this point, my blood pressure was increasing, but I kept reading.  What struck me even more was a quote from a parent, most likely one of the few who complained loud enough to get the book pulled, “…but to have that language and to take the name of Christ in vain–I don’t go for that.  As a Christian, and as a female I was offended.”  Seriously?  Maybe try looking deeper and not making it about you.

I ordered the book online, starting reading it Friday during my lunch, and finished it today.  Is there salty language in there?  Yep.  Is the existence of heaven brought into question?  Yep.  Is the name of Christ taken in vain?  Yep.  Do I think the book should have been pulled?  Nope.  Will I let Kaitlyn read it when she is a little older?  Absolutely!

While I was reading the book, I could see different traits of Kaitlyn coming through in the narrator.  Good at math.  Logical and rational thinker.  Difficulty with jokes and sarcasm.  Literal application of words.  All of those things are true about the narrator, and are true about Kaitlyn, and are true about so many other kids.  It’s called Asperger Syndrome.

My advice to the mom I quoted above, and who was quoted in the local paper would be to get over yourself.  It is a book, written from the perspective of someone who has a brilliant mind and no filter.  That is life.  As a self-described “Christian woman,” I would have expected her to show tolerance and understanding of a book written from the perspective of a child who is probably not like her perfect little angel.  It is people like her, who cannot seem to accept people who are not like them, that make life difficult for people like Kaitlyn.  Instead of attempting to understand people who may be “different,” they are shut out and shunned.  That is not really the way I want to go about my life.

If you get a chance, pick up this book and read it with an open mind.  You might learn something about yourself, and you might learn something about people like Kaitlyn.

Exceeding Expectations (Again!)

Open-BookThere is very little Kaitlyn can do these days that surprises Amber and I; she’ll get us on occasion, but it is rare.  I guess maybe that comes from our belief that the sky really is the limit when it comes to what she can accomplish or what she can do (within reason, of course).  So, it comes as little surprise that she has already well-exceeded her AR (Accelerated Reader) goal for this grading period and for the school year.

For this grading period alone, Kaitlyn has 27.4 points, and the average grade level of the book she has read is 4.8 (4th grade, 8th month).  Her goal was 11.6, which she met a mere 6 days into the grading period.  She is at 236.2% of her goal already, and that number will just keep climbing.  Because she met her goal so quickly, she even earned a special reward from her teacher at the recent book fair; her teacher let her pick out any book she wanted, and then bought it for her.

As far as her total for the year so far, she has accumulated 107.8 points, with an average book level of 4.9.  She has read 733,122 words, and passed 48 AR tests.  Not too shabby.

Over her last 10 books, the average book level she has read is 4.82, with a high-water mark of 6.1 (she also got a 100% on the test for the 6.1 level book!).  She is working hard toward reading all of the books in the Sunshine State Young Readers Program, and we have no doubt she will read all of them.

Somehow, no matter how high we set the bar, Kaitlyn continues to exceed our expectations.  She’s required to read at least 20 minutes per night for school, but reads for at least 30 (we bumped her bedtime back 30 minutes so she had uninterrupted reading time each night).  Amber and I both could not be more thrilled that she has developed, and continues to grow, a love for reading.

Harder Than I Thought It Would Be

A friend of mine owns a publishing company here locally, and she had been reading posts on here for quite a while before she came to me with a really good idea.  It was one that my dad had floated, too, but I had not even considered it then.  Even when my friend suggested it, it took me a while to seriously consider actually going through with it.

Their suggestion was that a write a book based off of what I write about so often on here.  Once I was on board, it was just a matter of getting going.

Well, I have been working on the book about our trip to Aspieland, how it all started, and our successes and failures along the way, for about 8 months now.  I was cruising right along heading into last summer, and even printed a preliminary copy for Amber to read and edit, which she did.  And then it kind of all ground to a halt for a few months.  Over the past two or three months though, I have really been making some significant progress.  I was able to get a copy to my friend right around Christmas, and she is reading over it now and making edits and suggestions, and I have been adding more content all the time.  I am having a tough time trying to figure out who to ask to write the foreword for the book, but that is not too major of a problem at this point.

Honestly though, the whole process has been harder than I thought.  Because I strive to be open and honest on here, and to really invite readers into our lives, I knew that I wanted the book to have a similar format.

The book, when it is finally finished and ready for the world, will really dive in to a lot of extra detail that I just don’t have the space on here to include.  It will allow readers to share in the emotions that we have had along the way.  Really and truly, it will be a raw look into our lives.  It is not always pretty, but I am not ashamed of anything I have written so far.

Putting down on paper, and then into a word processor, the story of how we have gotten to where we are today has provided plenty of hurdles along the way.  It has been emotional and difficult at times, and easy at other times; I have written about times I have been frustrated, and times that I have been ecstatic.  Some of what is in there might be difficult for some people to read, but I think all of the content is presented in a fair way.

I hope to have it finished in the next few months, and have it out sometime this summer.  I don’t really think of myself as some sort of author or anything, just a dad who happens to be fortunate enough to be on the adventure of a lifetime.

 

Now I Know

As usual this morning, I had to go ahead and retrieve Kaitlyn from her bed so she could put on her socks and shoes before we left for school.  She was in her bed, reading one of her Rainbow Magic series books.  She has really taken to those recently, and brings them home from school and is always asking for us to buy her one (she’s hoping Amber comes home with one for her today after work since she has gotten one each of the last two weeks).

The Rainbow Magic series is a series of books about different types of fairies.  There are 13 different types of fairies in the series, and if Kaitlyn had it her way, she would have the entire collection.

It’s pretty easy for me to get her to put the book down and finish getting ready for school, so there was no battling with her at all.  She is also very responsible with her books.

As she was getting out of her bed, she neatly placed the one she was reading on her end table by the bed.  Then, she placed the next one in the series underneath it, because, “that is the order they go in.”  Of course.

Right before we were leaving, she rushed back into her room.  She realized that she had left another of her books on her bed.  I suggested to her that she put it underneath the other two.  You would have thought I said she should burn the books with the way she looked at me.  Apparently, the third book was part of a completely different set of the Rainbow Magic fairies, and did not belong in that stack.  So sorry.

Kaitlyn likes her things to be in a certain order, and I understand that.  I am the same way.  Everything has its place, and everything goes in its particular place.  What looks like a system with no rhyme or reason to the casual observer makes perfect sense to us.  Amber says it is just our OCD kicking in, but I prefer to call it “knowing where everything is.”  It is why my closet is organized the way that it is, and I am all but certain that Kaitlyn will have a similar system at some point.

 

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