Great at math but hates to read. What to do?

<p>My rising HS sophmore S is excellent at math and in school overall. He pulled a 4.0 his freshman year and writes very well. But he absolutely hates to read and it showed up when they sent his ITBS and other internal testing results with his final report card. Whereas he is at the 99th percentile in math, his reading comprehensive scores are only average (52%). Will this come back to bite him when he takes the ACT/SAT? Should we try and force him to read this summer by designating a daily hour-long family reading time? Would it even help? He is a little ADHD so I think this is what's behind the issue.</p>

<p>I went through this with my daughter in middle school. She hated to read! I am an avid reader and always had books, magazines, newspapers around, didn't help. The summer before her freshman year she wanted to read the last Harry Potter book. Her friend convinced her to read all of the books in order before the last one, don't ask me how, I haven't a clue. she read all the HP books, then the New Moon books and now read for pleasure all the time. Something just clicked!</p>

<p>Instead of trying to force him to read, I would offer an incentive for him to read. Give him a gift card to a local bookstore and let him buy whatever he wants. Tell him that when he has read X number of pages, he will earn X (whatever his currency is, for my son it was video games). It is important to get him reading something because it will definitely affect his ACT/SAT scores. It doesn't have to be novels, it can be anything, as long as he is reading.</p>

<p>Eh, I think a family reading time is not such a good idea (I can think of nothing garaunteed to make a teenager more miserable then being forced to not only do what he doesn't like, but to do it with his parents. In the summer.), but maybe designating a summer reading list of books that he chooses would not be a bad idea. He has to read them, he gets to pick them but you get some veto power (so he's not picking 50 page long books). </p>

<p>I used to sell children's and young adult books and one of the problems we commonly faced was parents coming in saying "My son hates to read!" It's really not that he doesn't like to read, but he probably hasn't found the book or series that has captivated him. There are so many a) badly written and b) written to appeal to teen girl young adult books out there, that boys are often ignored. And each boy is different, of course, so what appeals to one might not appeal to the other. Also, if they're not interested in the parade of popular fantasy books that are marketed for their age group, that can be another downer. </p>

<p>Do you have an independent children/young adult bookstore in your town? If so, you are fortunate, because they will probably have a knowledgable staff that can offer useful suggestions. If not, try your library, discuss with the librarian and maybe bring a few home. I reccommend authors like Michael Chabon, John Green, or Jason Sonneblick (author of Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie) if he wants something with more realism. If he does like fantasy stories, maybe try the Redwall books (he's a little old for them, though I think they're good for teen readers as well as the 12-14 group) or else Terry Pratchett (funny and smart, an appealing combination to a bright reader). Or try nonfiction stories by Jon Krakauer or something similar? For someone who sounds like he's quite analytical, a story that's based in reality but is also captivating in story line might attract. As a general baseline, you want books with fast paced stories and/or plenty of action that will keep his interest. Classics are fine, but don't be so concerned about what he's reading so long as he is reading (in these cases, Twilight is as good as Dickens). The enjoyment of reading IMO should precede the concern over quality of literature, quality literature comes later. </p>

<p>It's not so much his test scores I think you need to be worrying about as it is his general education and overall well being. College involves a lot of reading, even in the sciences. It's good that he's a good writer and getting good grades, but enjoying reading is really the backbone of developing the writing skill and improving one's ability to communicate effectively.</p>

<p>When my nephew finished the Harry Potter books available at that time (maybe 2 or 3) I took him and his brother and my D to the book store and told them we weren't leaving until they each had a book in hand. He then began reading a Star Wars series and eventually discovered a desire to read certain kinds of non-fiction history books. Figure out what he'll read with pleasure, even if it's magazines, and do what you can to encourage that.</p>

<p>BTW my D didn't start reading for pleasure until mid-high school. Some kids just don't have the concentration ability early on. You can always read to kids until they become readers themselves, though I realize that's harder to do with a high school boy ;)</p>

<p>My son is great at math but hated to read. He also read the Harry Potter books. We bought him a book about speed reading which also had timed portions in it. It helped.</p>

<p>I guess I should add that he does read the sports section of the newspaper everyday. And he's the first one to grab the Sport Illustrated when it comes in the mail. However, this type of reading doesn't seem to be helping his scores.</p>

<p>My non reader son will devour any fact based book on math and physics. He will also read biographies on math and science stand outs.</p>

<p>He believes fiction to be a waste of his time. Silly boy.</p>

<p>We love Popular science and popular mechanics. We subscribe to both and they are awesome magazines. Short articles for short attention spans.</p>

<p>OK, so that's good to know. There are many books he could be reading that are sports themed (Mike Lupica jumps to mind). I would suggest biographies or auto-biographies of athletes. Open, by Andre Agassi, is excellent, also histories of famous periods in sports or of particular sports he follows avidly. The book "Summerland" by Michael Chabon is a young adult book that mixes (of all things) baseball with fantasy adventure along the lines of C.S. Lewish or Tolkien. Chabon's one of my favorite authors, and I think he appeals to smart teens as well as adults, but Summerland is written specifically for the teen audience. </p>

<p>Samurai Shortstop and Shakespeare Bats Cleanup are a couple of other baseball books I'd recommend. If you google "Teen books" and "sports" or a specific sport, you'll see that there are lots of lists of these, both on bookstore websites and from libraries. Baseball gets a lot of play in teen books, but basketball has it's fair share (Travel Team by Mike Lupica is really good). Other sports, it varies. </p>

<p>I'm citing mostly "Young Adult" books here because they are geared toward his age group and they are shorter (an appeal for a reluctant reader), but for bright kids, don't be afraid of trying a few things in the grown-up section too.</p>

<p>This is no problem, whatsoever. My D. is the same. while preparing for ACT in a future, my advice is to focus on math. A lot of problems on ACT are from middle school, kids do not remember this material (I heard it from others and witenssed it while D. was preparing). Yes, her Reading was the lowest as always, but we kenw about it and she compensated for it by her other scores. Science and English though are easy sections. In OP's case, I would push math prep. D. spent 1 hour / day for 5 days right before ACT test. She got 33 total, which was enough for her plans. She took ACT once. D. continues being slow reader in college, which actuallt has helped her a lot absorbing very challenging science classes material. It never bothered me that she does not like to read, I do not like to read myself. Both of us have been very good students, D. has never had "B" in her life.</p>

<p>Smithieandproud -- great, very specific recommendations. I think I'll order Summerland. In the meantime, I'm going to run upstairs and raid some John Green off of my older son's bookcase. Ironically he loved the Harry Potter series but younger one would never bite.</p>

<p>^John Green is fantastic. He has a new book out called "Will Grayson, Will Grayson" that he wrote with another author that I just finished and really enjoyed. </p>

<p>ACTUALLY though, speaking of John Green, what your son might really really like is a book he wrote called "An Abundance of Katherines" Which is about a child math prodigy who has only ever dated girls named Katherine and is starting to reach that awkward phase where you cease to be a prodigy because the rest of your age group catches up to you. So you either then transition into being an adult genius or you fade away as a former prodigy. I loved An Abundance of Katherines AND it's full of mathematical formulas and other cool math things, because the boy is trying to figure out (as his way of proving he's a genius, not just a prodigy) what is the mathematical equation for love.</p>

<p>My younger son doesn't like reading most fiction, but really likes non-fiction. I think some other boys are similar. Try some interesting non-fiction.</p>

<p>I thought Summerland was really stupid, but my Mom loved it. </p>

<p>I'd try more non-fiction - my younger son likes Air and Space magazine and also gets *Military History<a href="which%20he%20doesn't%20like%20as%20much.">/I</a> More sports magazines if that is an interest would be worth looking at.</p>

<p>Both my boys read a lot of sci-fi. My younger son swears the Star Wars books are better than you think - he's read at least 50 of them and got a 790 on the CR section of the SAT. The ones by Timothy Zahn who also writes books outside the Star Wars books are apparently particularly good. I'd also try Orson Scott Card's* Ender's Game* if he hasn't read it. I've never met a boy who didn't love it. Smart kids save the world by playing war games, what's not to like about that?</p>

<p>I second Ender's Game! And the sequels.</p>

<p>Maybe he would like magazines on subjects other than sports? Scientific American? Popular Science or Popular Mechanics? Many magazines are available at the public library so no need to invest in a subscription until you find what he likes.</p>

<p>Atlantic Monthly is popular at our house. And the Science section of the NY Times...not sure what day it comes out, DH brings it home when he's passing through an airport.</p>

<p>One son got a gift subscription to National Geographic and we had to keep getting it as long as he was home! Lovely magazine, but they do pile up and I could never bear to throw them out.</p>

<p>My rising sophomore son doesn't love reading, either, but he has read every available adult-level book about his current sport and several about soccer, which he used to play. He also enjoyed some adult-level popular books about business (one was on Wal-Mart). </p>

<p>I think the key is to find what interests your son, and provide books that are at a high enough level that he develops his reading skills and doesn't feel insulted.</p>

<p>What does your son like to do outside of school? Perhaps we can suggest some books that will be relevant.</p>

<p>I have a S who likes to read but gets waylaid by computer games so sometimes I would have to order him off the computer to either play outside or read something...anything. I just felt he wasn't learning anything by spending hours playing games (not writing them or being creative) and reading is extremely important. Reading COMPREHENSION is important, and a lack there will come back to bite you later.</p>

<p>When I was a kid, I read a lot, and whenever I knew something that no one else seemed to know, or that shocked people because it was above my grade level or whatever, my answer always seemed to be, "I read it somewhere." I'm sure they all thought I was smarter than I really was because I knew stuff. ;)</p>

<p>Another book my kids really enjoyed was Surely you're joking Mr. Feynman! Nobel scientist Feynman is a natural storyteller and has he ever got stories! Everything from cracking safes when he was at Los Alamos to figuring out the o-rings were responsible for the Challenger disaster. I've never read such an entertaining autobiography.</p>

<p>Schokolade . . . outside of school it used to be his only interests were hanging with friends, playing video games and going to the pool. Now that he's a little older a lot of his old friends have formed new friendships around the sports their involved in. He just finished soccer season and is now training for cross country. He still loves video games. He'll be taking drivers ed, going on a class trip to Estes Park, and a church kayaking/rock climbing trip to Montana. That's about it other than the fact that he says he'd ultimately like to pursue his doctorate in "something medical related."</p>

<p>Yes! ^^ Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman!</p>

<p>We voted him the person we'd most like to invite to dinner. :)</p>

<p>This thread may have some good suggestions, started by owlice: </p>

<p><a href="http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/parents-forum/545469-good-reads-about-math.html?highlight=books%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/parents-forum/545469-good-reads-about-math.html?highlight=books&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>