So Big Kid's teacher approached me and told me he was assessed at reading at a 11th grade in the 9th month level. He's in 5th grade.
This is not a humble brag because I thinks it's a little ridiculous and I don't really understand the metric. I will brag all day long about how he loves to read, but I don't really care what level he's reading at.
She said at school he now has to read books that are 11th grade or higher. Kind of a problem when he's an emotionally young 5th grader--this is a child who refuses to read Hunger Games because he disagrees with the premise. She said the school was having to order books specifically for him and I asked that I have some input in this process, and offered to buy the books, but didn't hear back. So I guess that was a no.
He was pissed about the assessment though. He was certain it meant more work and no more kids' books. I assured him that was not true, it just meant actual literature--that THIS is when he'd learn to love all of the different combinations of words in the world. Then I promised he could read whatever he wanted at home.
He got in the car the next day and handed me his first assigned book. By Ayn Rand.
"Tell me it's not boring, mom. This IS boring."
I read the first two pages. "It's boring. Terribly so. A lot of people like her though. I am not one of them, but maybe you will be. She has some...very different ideas on society than I do but feel free to form your own opinion. You might like it."
He did not. I told him he didn't have to continue to read it, that I would tell the teacher it was too dry and philosophically mature for a 5th grader, but he insisted that he would finish. In the meantime, I bought a stack of stuff I'd rather he read. He started with "Of Mice and Men."
As a Steinbeck lover, this thrilled me. When he was a newborn, I spent two weeks reading East of Eden out loud to him, more because I didn't know what else to do with him than any attempt at Baby Geniusing.
He came out of his room on the first night. "Mom, I just want to tell you something about this book."
Ugh. I was a bit worried we were going to go the way of Ayn Rand, and ruin his love of Steinbeck before he was actually old enough to appreciate it.
"Steinbeck gets REALLY wordy with descriptions. I like that about him but some people don't. If you don't, feel free to skim that stuff, I promise the story is still good." I assured him.
"No, it's good. It's just that...there's curse words. I like the book and I want to read it but thought you should know in case you forgot."
Oh, Big Kid. Wonderful, honest Big Kid.
"Well, John Steinbeck's allowed to curse, baby. You're not. As long as you know that, I don't really care. Sometimes 'bad' words add emotion that is necessary for the story line. A 5th grader doesn't need to add that level of emphasis in his own life, but I really couldn't care less if you read some curse words in a book. You don't have to read it if you don't want to, though."
"To be honest, that's kind of why I want to read it."
He read it, and he loved it. He was sad at the end. He went on to read Animal Farm and is now reading Lord of the Flies.
I gave birth to my own book club. And now I'm probably one of the few 5th grade parents seeking out great literature that includes curse words.