I am a mean mommy. I spent the summer reading Martin's Mice by Dick King-Smith aloud with Cedar. But instead of just reading the book to my kid, I made him do all kinds of work with it.
Inspired by Cedar's Kindergarten teacher, who last year read Charlotte's Web aloud to her class, I adopted her plan for read aloud books. After each chapter I made my little kid draw a picture from the chapter, and then write 2 or 3 sentences about it. Classic book report style.
The chapters are quite short, and the story just as sweet. The main character is Martin, a little kitten who loves mice. He loves them so much he won't eat them, and decides to keep one as a pet. Just his kitten luck however, the one he catches first is a pregnant, and rather bossy, mouse named Drusilla. Martin keeps her in an old bathtub in the loft of a barn, and spends his time caring for and getting to know Drusilla. As the book goes on, many twists and turns take place, and Martin comes face to whiskered face with the practice of keeping pets, good and bad.
I adored this story. Very well written and thoughtfully crafted, the book had funny parts for kids, and numerous grown-up jokes thrown in that kept me wanting to read. It was just such an inventive and creative idea. (There were a lot of BIG words, which I had to stop and explain.) Cedar too loved the story, when I was reading it to him. When we finished a chapter, he would moan and fuss that it was too short, and he wanted me to read more. I, the mean mommy, made him sit and do his writing about the chapter each time. I reviewed each chapter with him, and helped him along with the process of deciding what to write. But the idea of a summarizing a four page chapter was clearly beyond my 6 year-old's capabilities. By the end of the book, he was pretty disgruntled with all that work I made him do, got a bit turned off by the whole thing. He didn't even want to finish the book. In the end, we did and now have a Cedar version of Martin's Mice, but it was about as easy as catching a mouse- for a non-feline species.
So we're on to First Grade and our next family story. We are just cuddling up and reading aloud together, and not doing summaries for each chapter. Which is fine with me. I am back to being the nice mommy for a while. But come next summer, mean mommy will be back, with whole new book assignments and piles of work for my little guy to do.