Stealth Reading


Emily giving me the stink eye at the bank a month or two ago. She was reading quietly and all I wanted was a picture!

I’ve never particularly liked the word “sneaky.” Perhaps I was labeled sneaky as a child and have never recovered. Instead, I’ll call what I do with Emily…stealthy.

One section of our library is devoted to homeschool books. And occupying a solid five inches or more of one shelf are most of The Magic School Bus books. I bought them years ago when Em first showed an interest in The Magic School Bus videos.

For those not in the know…The Magic School Bus is a great introduction to science for kids. Through imaginative storytelling, and a little bit of school bus magic, a child is transported into all kinds of science adventures that explain everything from the ocean, to internal processes (digestion, colds, and more).

At that time, the books didn’t interest her as much. And I could barely read through the first two or three pages before I faded out. (Reading out loud makes me fall asleep. It’s a problem…a BIG one)

In any case, a few days ago I was at the homeschool section looking for something and I saw the books. Now that Em is reading (rather voraciously, I might add), she particularly enjoys reading graphic novel formats. The Magic School Bus books are written in a format that looks similar enough to be attractive to her.

And again, in true Sugata Mitra form, I picked out one of the books and left it in an obvious spot for her. And this morning the trap was sprung. She headed into the library and noticed the book, “Oh look! The Magic School Bus!”

I hid a smile and let it spin out naturally. “Oh, by the way, we have a bunch of the books over here on this shelf if you are interested.”


“Yep, here they are.” I pulled out and handed her a big stack. “You might just go through them and see what interests you. You know where the books go, so just put them back when you are done looking through them.”

I don’t make a big deal of it. Which is kind of funny because secretly inside is an internal monologue that goes something like this…

Okay, okay. You’ve got her on the hook. Stay cool. Show her the book. Don’t act like it is a big deal. Oh look, she’s sitting down with a book. OH MY GOD, book book book book. She’s reading. She’s smiling. YES YES YES!!!!!

[small mental dance ensues…be relieved that you cannot see this because of my many talents, dancing is not one of them]

She’s reading and enjoying it. And she’s learning! I just gave her the book and she’s learning ALL…ON…HER…OWN.

Must figure out how to make this happen ALL THE TIME.

But I’m cool, see. I’m hip. I say nothing while the party goes on inside my head.

She spent about twenty minutes reading from the book before wandering away to get dressed and eat breakfast.

It is moments like this when I think that I never want to do anything but homeschool this child and infuse her with a love of learning like no other.

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