On Reading

When I was a kid, I hated reading. Although I could read, I did see the point of looking at words. No one explained to me the benefits of reading. In retrospect, I wish my parents had forced me to read. Then again, I have never seen my mom pick up a book to read. For me, I had other priorities like billiards, video games, Chinese TV series, and hanging out with other kids in the neighborhood. Reading was not something we did.

When we moved in the States, my distaste for reading escalated as I struggled to learn English. Even though I was alone most of the time and bored out of my mind, I could not read because I did not understand the words. I fell asleep every time I picked up a book to read. I got frustrated and gave up. I went through high school and college ashamed of myself because I was performing poorly in any class that required reading. After my freshman year in college, I did not even bother to buy textbooks because I knew I was not even going to crack them open. My strategy was that if I never missed any class, I could not fail. If I could score at least a D on all my tests, I could walk away with a C. For most of my core courses such as English, religion, philosophy, biology, I was happy with a C. I had to withdraw a history and a literature course because I was failing so bad.

I hated college and almost dropped out, but then I discovered design. I was attracted to design because I did not have to deal with reading. I could work on my computer and push pixels all day long. I was interested in the visual more than text. I named my blog Visual Gui for that reason. Ironically, design brought me back to reading. In order to learn new technology such as Flash, HTML, CSS, and Photoshop, I had to read. Fortunately those instructional books were straightforward, easy to understand, and complemented with illustrations.

My reading began to pick up when I launched this blog. To find new content, I needed to read. The more I read, the more I was fascinated with what I had learned through reading. Now, despite my busy schedule, I read every free second I have. I started to carry a book with me everywhere I went. I would wake up early and stay up late to read. It took me more than twenty years to finally see the point of reading. I wish I had started early. It is one of my regrets in life. I blame no one, but myself for it and I do not want to make that mistake again with my kids. One of my goals as a father is to encourage my kids to read. Once they learn how to read, it is up them to continue or not.

When Đạo started kindergarten, we went through the Let’s Read book each night. Within a few months, he could read. When he was in first grade, he could read all by himself. I am so happy to have instilled in him the value of reading. Our bonding time are when we both laying in bed reading. We read our own book, but I have I use one hand to rub his back. I even started to teach him to read Vietnamese, but I had to put that aside to focus on Đán.

In contrast to my success with Đạo, I am failing miserably with Đán. We also started Let’s Read last year when Đán was in kindergarten, but he struggled to sound out the letters. Even now he has trouble with simple three-letter words. I am not sure if he is not paying attention or has some reading issues, but he kept getting a certain word wrong even though the same word is repeated again and again throughout a book. I got frustrated, but I do not want to push him to read. I brought up my concern with his kindergarten teacher and she told me to give him time. It’s a year now and he shows no improvement.

I understand that each kid develops differently. I am not comparing him to his brother, cousin, or classmates. He is a bright kid. He excels at everything, particularly gaming, except or reading. I wonder if he has some kind of reading issue. I brought it up to his first grade teachers again and they are in the process of evaluating him. I am hoping to hear back from them in the next few weeks. If he has reading disability, I rather find out sooner than later so we could get him some help. I don’t know when kids supposed to know how to read, but if my kid is struggling with it, I want to do something about it. Maybe reading is not for him, but I don’t want him to miss out like I did.