Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Junie B. Jones and the Mother Who Needs to Give Her 6-Year-Old A Little More Credit

When I opened up my beginner reader's first grade reading folder to find a chapter book inside I rejoiced for approximately .0007 seconds. Then I had one of those slow-motion noooooooooooooooooooooooooo! moments you often see in ridiculous sit-coms.

You see, Gracie has been super resistant to reading chapter books.

"They're hard," she says. "And boring."

Gracie is a slow reader, and I have learned the hard way that when you mix something difficult with a six-year-old who resists doing hard and/or boring stuff, you get a major headache. My headache has been growing ever since school started, when we learned that, though Gracie finds reading hard and boring, she's good enough that her teacher wants her reading chapter books at home... yet coaxing Gracie to read them has been close to impossible, especially as her folder has only had short picture books.

Hence the rejoicing, because Gracie knows that she has to read the books in her folder without question or complaint (this is how she earns TV time, after all).

The slo-mo nooooooooooooooooooooooooo! came after I saw what book her teacher packed in her folder as her first required chapter book.

Junie B. Jones and some Sneaky Peeky Spying.

Here's something to know about me: I am SO not a fan of Junie B. Jones books. The kid's a complete trouble maker. She's mean to her friends. She lies and spies and says the snottiest things to her mother. But that's not the worst of it.

The kid can't speak a grammatically correct sentence to save her life.



I expected the worst for my poor beginner reader who struggles with The Magic Tree House books. How in the world is Gracie supposed to get through a chapter of Junie B. Jones a night in order to meet her reading requirement? How in the WORLD is my six-year-old reading beginner going to master the English language when her example says "runned" instead of "ran?"


Well, Gracie and I sat down and began chapter one, and I learned a little lesson called: Give the 6-Year-Old a Little More Credit.

In fact, give her a LOT of credit, because Gracie can totally handle grammatically incorrect sentences. Not only that, but reading this book together has shown me that her brain automatically corrects Junie B's errors, and I have to actually stop her and have her read things again because she doesn't read them as they're written on the page.

In the first chapter, Junie B. is on a mission to spy on her sleeping brother, but she finds him a little boring, so she blows on him, and tickles his nose, and screams at him to wake up until he does.

Then "he started crying very loud. And Mother runned into his room. Only she didn't even see me! 'Cause I quick hided in the closet!"

... except Gracie read it as: "he started crying very loud. And Mother ran into his room. Only she didn't even see me! Because I quickly hid in the closet!"

- enter flabbergasted jaw-drop HERE -

She didn't even stumble over the words.

"Well, that was very well done..." I said. "But you need to read it again, because you missed a bunch. Junie B. didn't say 'quickly' or 'hid' and that doesn't say 'because.'

Gracie was stumped. "But that's wrong," she informed me.

And then we had a little conversation about character voice.

- enter excited nerdy-Mom moment HERE -

Gracie is reading Junie B's story just fine. Not only that, but she's laughing all the way through. And now that we're close to done with it, her reading speed has definitely improved.

I'm not going to lie - I've laughed a few times, too. But mostly because of moments like this:

Gracie [reading]: "First, I looked where the chocolate milk was. Then I looked where the pasketti and tomato sauce was."

[laughs and laughs] She said pasketti!

ME: And what word should she have said?

GRACIE: BA-sketti!

ME: ..... you mean ..... spaghetti?

GRACIE: Oh. Yeah. Whoops.

[laughs and laughs]

Turns out I'm not a complete Junie B. Jones hater after all.

Hope you're all having an awesome Tuesday, folks!



Jenna Blake Morris said...

You have a good point with Junie B.'s grammar issues, but I always loved those books. She cracked me up -- especially before she moved on to first grade. By then I was in second grade and just kind of went "eh" about the whole situation.

Laura Pauling said...

Two of my kids love Junie! yes she's a bit over the top - to adults. Kids mostly find her funny and very kid-like! And kids are always smarter than we give then credit for!

Dianne K. Salerni said...

I think the things you dislike about Junie are what makes her so popular among the first and second grade crowd. Readers feel a little superior to the narrator. They know she's naughty (and they have enough sense of story and plot to know she WILL get her comeuppance) and they recognize her grammar and pronunciation mistakes. That's my teacher perspective for you!

OF COURSE, it's ba-sketti, btw.

Marisa Hopkins said...

haha, I used to work with elementary schoolers, and the Junie B. books weren't a problem for me then... but then it wasn't my own kiddo struggling through reading.

Gracie does get VERY frustrated with Junie B. especially as I make her read the words as they are on the page - but as she laughs a lot more in this book than other books (especially when Junie B. calls her mom a pewie head, so I guess it's worth it.

Heather Kelly said...

I find it interesting that you go back and have your daughter read it 'wrong'. You fascinate me, Marisa!!

We are reading the Toys Go Out series, and I find it immensely delightful. It is pretty easy to read, and adorable.
My kids laugh out loud as I read it. Hearty, from-the-stomach laughs. :)

Natalie C Parker said...

Go Gracie! That's wonderful! I'm so glad this turned out better than you feared.

Kelly Polark said...

I love Junie B. because it is complete entertainment for kids and if they want to be entertained they will read on.
(My first two kids loved her books, my son is about to start one soon!)

Marisa Hopkins said...

Heather - Oh thanks for the recommendation! I will definitely check that series out - nothing beats hearty, from the belly laughs

Natalie - thank you!! SO much better than we feared :)

Kelly - definitely entertaining. it's so great to have a book that makes her laugh, when she's been so against reading anything but easy readers and picture books

Kelly Warren said...

We have a love/hate relationship with Junie B. in our house. Sarah loves reading them, Olivia doesn't care of them (my future zoologist/veternarian will also choose some sort of animal book), I don't particularly care for them, but what the heck, at least they are reading. Great that she spots the grammatical errors and corrects them!

Janna said...

I sent you an email...I have to confess...I only read the first part before I quickly opened my email and wrote to you. I just finished reading your post. I love the way things turned out.

Marisa Hopkins said...

Janna - THANK YOU for your email!! I loved it. I never would have thought to test my kiddo for vision problems - which is just plain silly, since I started wearing glasses toward the end of elementary school, only AFTER my family discovered I had a hard time seeing the things my brother could see just fine.

I will DEFINITELY have her checked for vision problems - and she might just need a pair of reading glasses!

Melissa said...

We *love* Junie B, and I have no problem with her trouble-making or grammar. I don't feel the stories have negatively influenced any of my kids. Don't even get me started about Horrid Henry, though! I've banned those books in my house.

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