But while Jon was doing his reading, I took The Kid to the pond and watched as he played "Harry Potter" with a green straw from Starbucks (which served as a wand) and a paper cookie bag (which served as the Marauder's Map). My kid is playing Harry Potter games because he's reading the Harry Potter books. It's not something I could do at his age. Not even close.
I didn't learn to read until I was eight years old. It wasn't from lack of effort on anyone's part. My parents worked with me all the time, I had excellent teachers who tried everything, and I had a deep love of books which came from having them read to me by my older sisters.
But reading was something I couldn't do. Not until I was eight -- and somewhere in my brain something turned on and I read "Blue Bay Mystery" by Gertrude Chandler Warner all by myself (I still love that book). And within a year or two, I was reading everything I could get my hands on.
I was luckier than a lot of late readers. I had a grandmother who was an elementary school teacher -- and a very good elementary school teacher at that. Her solution to the issue was simple: Take no radical steps and let me grow into the ability. Her theory (which was the correct theory as far as I was concerned) was that labeling me as a poor reader, or putting me through a rigorous and humiliating "poor reader" program was going to make me hate reading forever. It was better to let me figure it out at my own pace. And eventually I did.
Which means I always have such pain when I see a parent or teacher freaking out when a kid doesn't read as well as his/her peers. Most often, I hear this kid described as lazy or stubborn -- as if the kid is choosing not to read just to thwart adults. I see parents who I normally adore become complete panicking lunatics who spend a ton of time and money on incompetent tutors and inflexible reading programs just to make sure that their kid gets up to speed. And I see schools purchase books that follow specific reading pedagogies at the expense of making stories that are actually interesting and might actually make a kid want to turn the page to see what happens next.
And none of this teaches kids that learning to read is a good thing. And that is a deep, dark shame.