But that same flexibility and freedom often lead to the greatest dilemmas. Part of our school day consists of my kids reading to themselves, and another part is me reading out loud to them.
Our recent reading had us studying Mark Twain. I love Mark Twain. I think he wrote some truly incredible stories, has some great quotes, and led an interesting life that’s worth learning about and even admiring to a point.
We read Tom Sawyer a few weeks ago, with no problems. We then moved on to Huckleberry Finn. Initially, Huck Finn was fine, but now that he’s off on his adventure with Jim the slave, it’s become a bit frustrating.
If you’ve never read Huck Finn, you may not be aware that Twain used dialect writing for the characters – “dey” for “they”, “de” for “the”, things like that.
The problem is that Jim’s is so strong with dialect that it’s nearly impossible to read. I sound stiff, leaving long pauses between words as I try to decipher what the word is or the meaning of the phrase. Many times, I’m unable to determine the meaning, which then means I can’t explain to my kids what it means.
Which is why I am now conflicted. Part of me wants to stop reading this book and move on to something easier. But another part of me says that that would be setting a bad example, teaching my kids that if something is difficult, they should just give up on it.
But I also want to instill the love of reading that I have in them. And I’m getting no enjoyment out of this book whatsoever at this point.
What’s more, I can’t see the benefits of reading the book anymore. If we don’t understand what we’re reading, or are so caught up in deciphering the language that we miss the point of the passage – what do we gain? It seems it would just be wasted time as they would learn nothing.
Yet the idea of giving up grates on me. I’m not the type to quit something just because it’s a bit more difficult than I anticipated. I certainly don’t want to raise children who think it’s acceptable to quit when the going gets tough. But then again, I don’t want them to be the type that continue to try to do something or change something when it becomes obvious that it won’t happen.
I guess maybe the question is not so much should I give up, but when to do so. When do I decide that enough is enough and it’s no longer worth doing something?