Conversations with my mom re: gifted niece

February flew by incredibly fast. This last week was crazy-go-nuts.

I worked President’s Day at the museum, and my mom and grandma came down that day to visit. (They wanted to visit before I began an interim teaching position next week. Plus, they brought curtains for the kitchen. W00t.) They stayed a couple days, but the “this can be blogged about” happened the first night.

Scene: over dinner, between fighting for rolls.

Mom: T’s getting tested for being gifted. Well, duh.
Me: Yeah? It took this long to notice?
Mom: Normally they test in third grade. They’re not “late” or anything.
Me: Oh, I thought I was in the gifted class in third grade until they realized they made a mistake.

(Note: this isn’t false family pride. My sister is insanely smart and her kids are off-the-charts as well. This is also not false modesty on my part. I have had the tendency to be the dumbest in the “smart class” or smartest in the “dumb class.” The truth is, I’m not “gifted.” I’m “bright.” The difference is not whether you know the answers, but whether you ask the questions. Or something. Anyway, my mom argues with me on this point about my giftedness or lack of it.  We continue.)

Mom: You know she’s reading books on the sixth grade level? The problem is, I think it’s above her head.
Me: What has she been reading?
Mom: Some book series called Time Travelers? She’s read Harry Potter…
Me: Just the first three, right?
Mom: Skipped the first. Too boring. I asked her how she knows what’s going on, but she said she knows. Don’t know which ones she’s read.  I worry though about how she’d be able to handle violence and stuff.
Me: (thinking of book 6)… yeah, wow. Hmm. Interesting. Has she read Spinelli? Star Girl, Maniac Magee?
Mom: Yep.
Me: Katherine Paterson? Lois Lowry? Narnia? (I name a few more.)

You can see where this conversation is heading. I try to name a few suggestions, Mom’s checking off in her head, “read, read, read, dang it, didn’t my daughter go to school to give my grand-baby good book suggestions?”  Well, sadly, I was in school, and not in Barnes & Noble checking out new releases.  But I understand the frustration as a teacher and parental front.

And you don’t want to go, “No idea, good luck.”   When I was in third grade, I read above my head a lot. But I also had BSC books coming out every month to get my blood pumping.  I don’t feel like books were clouded with controversy every time I turned around. Let’s face it, Mama’s right– just because my niece can read it without a struggle doesn’t mean she should. Books that are in my friend’s sixth grade reading classroom? Anything from The Hunger Games to a 100 pager that had the kid cursed with the gift of puns. (“Punished”? Maybe? I think I read 2 chapters in 5 minutes, and not because it was good.)

I know I discussed an experiment the last time I blogged. I already have another in the brainstorming process: The next time I make it to my hometown, I already have a bunch of books ready for her to try, including Charlie Bone and The Great Gilly Hopkins. Just as I’m interested in seeing my nephew’s opinion on P&P&Z, I’d love to hear my niece’s overly honest opinion of what she’s interested in versus what I think she’d be interested in.

Any ideas, folks?

PS March may be insane. I’m starting an interim position for the rest of the year at my beloved middle school, with many of my kids I had last year. I’m super excited/quite nervous. Blogging will probably take a back seat, but am open to adding posts about my adventures as a reading teacher. And the books I’ll get a hold of in that profession. 🙂


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