So there you are. You’ve been reading about “strewing” on Sandra Dodd’s website. You see a book, or books, that you just know would be perfect for your kid. They’re colorful, interesting and full of cool info presented in an amazing way. You buy them and leave them around the house.
There is momentary and underwhelming interest. The books wind up on a shelf. They gather dust. You wonder if you’re doing something wrong. Maybe strewing doesn’t work in your house. Maybe you picked the wrong books.
Strewing is not an exact science. Sometimes it’s subtle. Sometimes there really isn’t any interest and you move on. Sometimes you won’t know for sure whether a book or an outing had an impact; piqued an interest.
And then sometimes it’s just a matter of….time.
A few years ago my daughter Maya was mad for the “Ology” books. Dragonology, Mythology, Pirateology, Egyptology, Wizardology etc. The people who came up with those books are genius. They contain all kinds of secret messages and envelopes with codes; there are books within books and keys to ‘treasure’. And along the way they give a lot of information about their subject. I love them.
Maya’s interest was fleeting, but I hung on to the books and would sometimes leave them out. They seemed right up Ben’s alley, but he pretty much ignored them. I put them on a shelf in his room and they sat there, being used as nothing more than convenient bookends for the “Animorphs” series.
Yesterday, for whatever reason, Ben and a friend decided to decode the secret messages in each and every “Ology” book to see if they are connected. Those books and their contents now completely cover our dining table, along with Ben’s notes and deciphered texts. He and his friend spent hours on the phone today, going over clues and planning their next moves. Ben showed me the key to understanding Morse Code, and Braille and hieroglyphs. We did some on line research to find out what a drake is in mythology. The excitement when Ben read that it is a type of dragon was palpable. He rushed to the Dragonology book to confirm something he had suspected.
Boy am I glad we didn’t get rid of those books.
How long will this interest last? Who knows? Could be a few days, maybe more. Maybe the interest in codes will fade and something else will catch. Maybe the books will go back on the shelf.
It doesn’t matter. Strewing works, but I would say it often works in ways you don’t expect or sometimes don’t even notice. That’s both the wonder and difficulty. You must be willing to put stuff out there and then let it go. Attaching yourself to the idea that your kid must immediately love whatever you’ve put before them is setting yourself up for disappointment. Sometimes they will, sometimes they won’t and sometimes it just takes time.