God bless Neal Shusterman. A couple of weeks ago I was looking for something to give my son Haley to read. He starts every day of home schooling with silent reading time, and it’s often difficult to find books he’ll enjoy. Though he’s made great strides with his dyslexia, he is still a fairly reluctant reader. I rummaged through my bookshelves and found a copy of Dark Fusion: Dread Locks, which Neal had signed for me at NCTE a couple of years ago. I gave it to Haley, selling it on the Greek mythology angle, and he agreed to give it a try. I came in thirty minutes later to start him on math, and I couldn’t tear him away from the book. This doesn’t happen very often. When he gets engrossed in a story, I usually let him keep reading. That’s one of the advantages of home school — flexible schedule. As long as the work gets done, it doesn’t matter when you do it. So I let him read. A few hours later, he was done with the book. One sitting. I was amazed.
The next day, I handed him Red Rider’s Hood, another Dark Fusion title. Haley devoured it. The next day, I handed him Downsiders. Haley usually gets a twenty minute break during his school day. That particular day, he used his break time to read. That has NEVER happened before.
Well, you get the idea. Haley has become a huge Shusterman fan. His most recent read was Everlost, which is a much longer book. Still, he finished it in a day. We have since scoured the local bookshops for all of Neal’s titles, and I’m hoping we can make them last at least another week. What we’ll do after that, I’m not sure. But it is so wonderful to see my reluctant reader son eating up books. So thanks, Neal! You’ve got a new devoted reader and made this dad’s job a whole lot easier!