I have finally started my Reading Seed tutoring to two fifth grade kids, and have consequently started reading books for ten-year-olds.  The ones that I’ve read so far have been marvelous.  Unfortunately, they appear to be way too hard for my kids.  But I would even recommend them to adults:

According to Scholastic
(, The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo is grade five level, but it is captivating, and a two-hanky.

Then I read The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread before I realized that it was by the same author.  (Scholastic Grade Level Equivalent: 4.8)

The other book (this one very short) was Walter, the Story of a Rat by Barbara Wersba, which is on the Children’s Choices list
( for grade four, but still way above my kids.  All English majors should love it, however.

The great thing about Despereaux and Walter is that they both know how to read.  I wish it were that easy for my “tutorees”.  The boy needs more than half an hour a week of tutoring.  His test scores in reading and math are in the 30 and 40%s!  He should never have been age promoted.  He has problems with words that my five-year-old granddaughter can read.

The girl can read fine, but she is mouthing words that don’t connect to an understanding of what is being read.  I have a feeling that no one was reading to her every night before bed.

If the parents of these kids had stopped at two children, they’d have time and energy to give them the attention they obviously aren’t getting at home.  I’ll bet that most of the kids that perform below grade level are down the pecking order in large families.  Another good reason for ZPG!       
(I’ll be happy if someone can disprove me of that notion.)


Volunteers are second-class citizens.  If we were being paid for our labors, we would not be treated as furniture, to be put here or there, but no paid attention to when not being used.

I have already groused about the elementary school in my neighborhood:  Well, a neighbor, to whom I had originally recommended Reading Seed, mentioned at her school that my services were not being utilized.  So Reading Seed called and asked if I’d like to be assigned to a different school.  OK. 

I talked with the second school’s volunteer coordinator, and set up my day and time.  A few days later she called to say that she was sick, so I’d have to wait a week.  When I showed up the next week, it turned out that the fifth graders were at lunch at noon, so could I tutor at one instead?  Ohhhhh kay.  I sat around for an hour.  Then I worked with the two kids.

Last Friday I went for my second week, but no one had told me that it was a grading day, and no children were around.  Am I frustrated?

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2 Responses to “Reading”

  1. Alissa C. Says:

    I disagree with your statement “If the parents of these kids had stopped at two children, they’d have time and energy to give them the attention they obviously aren’t getting at home.” It’s not about how many kids you have,it’s about how you raise them. Many children of big families can do great if their older siblings help with their education, as the older kids could help read to them also. There is no reason to think that just because someone has more than two kids they won’t parent them all well. This is just your bias. Two is not a magic number, lots of people have one or two children and are still bad parents. IT’s about what you do for and with your children, not how many you have.

  2. notesfromthewest Says:

    The other aspect listed in the study I quoted was socioeconomic status. Eight of the nine Kennedy children did quite well, although two died before the age of 30. (The ninth, Rose Marie, died in an institution.) They were more successful than my two children, but tons of money helps. The children in the school where I tutor are not rich. Those families would do better with fewer children.

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