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Family and Community

Home  >  Family and Community  >  Family Collections  >  Van Dommelen
Reading Light Bulbs
By Amy Crawford

Every child learns to read at a different pace, and even extreme readers like Lang and Eve had to begin reading somewhere. Diane refers to the moment when their passion for reading began, as "the light bulb going on" for her children. Sometimes it was just as simple as choosing the right kind of book.

Lang, for instance, likes fiction read aloud to him, Diane explains, but if he had to read it himself, "he just wasn't interested, he just couldn't get into those books ... I brought home all sorts of things." She refers to him as a "resistant reader" in the beginning. "I would make him sit down and we'd read out loud, like those Little Bear books or something, and what I figured out with Lang was I was giving him all these books he wasn't interested in."

Lang Van Dommelen
But in the third grade, when Lang found a biography of Abe Lincoln, his interest was finally piqued. "He came upstairs and was so excited," recalls Diane. "He said something about ‘Abey Lincoln', which is how he pronounced his name at first. He just hadn't realized there were other books he could read until then."

Later, Diane got him interested in more books by reading the first part of the book out loud, "until he was hooked, and then he'd read on his own." Lang still likes to read about history, and reads mainly a mix of adolescent and adult books. "He'll read these huge books, I mean consortium-library books," explains Dorn.

Eve Van Dommelen
The third grade seemed to be when Eve's reading light clicked on as well. During the summer, a friend challenged her to read Anne of Green Gables, by saying, "I bet you can't read this." Eve was up for the test and dove right into the book. "She wouldn't even play outside," Diane recalls. "I said to her, ‘Are you understanding that book, do you want me to help?' "

But Eve was fine reading on her own, learning the words by sight, instead of slowly having to sound out words like she'd had to in the second grade. When her mother asked, Eve simply replied, "You know, I get the gist of it."

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