Convergence Excess. That was the diagnosis we finally received concerning my two youngest children’s eyesight. Unfortunately, it took until they were 13 and 14-and-a-half until we finally discovered this was the issue.
Convergence Excess basically means their vision crosses, causing them to see double, get tired quickly when reading, get headaches if forced to read for too long, have motion sickness, etc.
I knew something wasn’t right, but it took this long to figure it out. Until then, I didn’t require a lot of reading in our homeschool. I read aloud to them all the time, and they listened to books on cd, and watched the movie versions for many books (because I felt it was important to at least know the storyline and be able to talk about the books they should be reading).
However, now that we know, and we’re participating in vision therapy and anticipating glasses when it’s done, I’m making a list of Classic Literature I want them to catch up on. And I’m going to have fun building a beautiful home library in the process!
I’ve linked to each book on Amazon so you can read the description of the book, and if you scroll down to the “Product Details” section, you can usually find the Age Range and Grade Levels. If you can’t find those details there, you can always Google the title along with the words “Reading level” and find the link that takes you to the Scholastic page. That’s another wonderful reference.
I already started their list with The Giver by Lois Lowery. Because I don’t want my kids to grow up hating reading good books just because they were “required reading,” I have a trick I use to get them reading those “good books” through pleasure. That trick is … I start reading the book to them aloud first. Sometimes we settle in with a snack, or they bring their sketchbooks or coloring books, and as I start reading, they get sucked into the story. Later, I can hand the books off to them and let them finish on their own. Sometimes, though, because of their vision issues, I allow them to finish it by listening to it on cd. My daughter has now moved on from The Giver (she was so disappointed in the movie version after reading the book and listening to the story on cd). There are 4 books in this series and now she’s reading Gathering Blue in paperback. This will be followed by Messenger and Son.
Next up on our list is A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. They’re going to love this story! We’re kind of obsessed with a show on tv right now called </SCORPION>, which is based on the real life of Walter O’Brien (IQ – 197; Einstein’s IQ was 160) and a team of geniuses working with Homeland Security to solve problems no one else can solve. This book will speak to them in its similarities to that show. Another great hook for getting them sucked in quickly … relate it to something they already love. The other thing that puts this high on the list is that it’s part of series, which my kids love! If I can get them started with one book, they’ll typically keep reading through the rest. You’ll find the other 4 books in this series listed at the end of this article.
Along this same line is the contemporary classic The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. Written at about a 6th-7th grade level, it should be “just right” for their reading abilities and will coincide with their interests, too.
I recently came across a book on a “College-Bound Reading List” and I’m so drawn in by the description, I can’t wait to get my hands on it myself! I’m embarrassed to admit that I hadn’t even heard of it. It’s called Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Have you read it?!? Now I can’t wait! (In a utopian future (which could be now), firemen are required to start fires to burn books and houses that hold them, as life revolves around the tv. Scary!)
I absolutely want my 13-year-old son to read Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis as soon as possible. He will totally appreciate the humor in this book.
And I really think my kids will both like Animal Farm by George Orwell since they’re country kids who’ve been raised around farm animals. I think I’ll have to find a Discussion Guide to help them go deeper into the politics embedded in the story. This is a good year for that.
Sometimes it’s good to give my kids a fast, easy read that will captivate them. My 14-year-old daughter will likely cherish Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. The main character is a Native American girl who is left to survive on an island by herself. My father’s line is part of the Potawatami Nation, so we are card-carrying Native Americans, though you wouldn’t know it by looking at us. And my daughter’s adventurous imagination will relish this story. I look forward to hearing her thoughts on this one.
Finally, I think late spring/early summer would be a good time to get them started on The Tillerman Cycle, a 7-book series by Cynthia Voigt. Those books, in order, are: Homecoming; Dicey’s Song; A Solitary Blue; The Runner; Come a Stranger; Sons from Afar; and Seventeen Against the Dealer.
I encourage you to look for books that are considered classics but still appeal to who your children are as individuals. They have a lifetime to read, and they aren’t likely to be “tested” on any of these books in order to get into college, so let them enjoy reading! Read along with them, provide plenty of conversation and encourage them to go deeper in their thinking, and if you think it will help, offer them opportunities to do some type of analysis paper about a few of them. But don’t squelch their enjoyment if you want this type of reading to continue into their adult years!