Sunday, January 06, 2008

Story Time #14: Owl Moon

Flashless? (Click to view.)

Length: 7:55

In casual conversation it is often difficult to explain life with a hyperlexic boy.

My wife's brilliant new blog has begun to open the eyes of more people to some of the particulars of our family's life together. And I have more than a hundred individual video posts that fill in even more detail.

But I've generally edited my "Story Time" series pretty tightly, to capture just the highlights of the boy's recitations. This time I'm inviting you to experience this family pastime in near-real time.

We tell people that he memorizes and recites stories, but those who haven't had (or taken) the time to really listen to him may not understand that this is not merely passive brain activity. Storytelling for him is PLAY.

The story, in this case, is one of the most beautifully written and illustrated picture books in our collection, OWL MOON, the 1988 Caldecott Medal winner by Jane Yolen. The boy knows it from a Scholastic video adaptation, and from the hardcover book. The audio from the DVD--read by the author--is also available as a download from iTunes.

It's the story told in the voice of a young girl walking in the snowy woods, the first time she's been allowed to accompany her father on a late night search for owls. The book makes for excellent bedtime reading, and makes an outstanding gift for fathers of young children (especially girls).

The boy and I have taken this walk many times after dark. On one beautiful evening back in August 2007, I brought my camera along.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! Ben so enjoys his ability to recite perfectly, endlessly all that he knows. Owling with Pa, presence, patience and Hope. With a tear and a smile, Julie

10:49 PM PST  
Blogger md'a said...

The most awesome moment of this is when Ben realizes he forgot the 'd' at the end of 'cold' and belatedly adds it.

11:55 PM PST  
Blogger Chris Ereneta said...

The genes of mine that contribute to his perfectionism I apologize for frequently.

My favorite moment might be lost because of his diction--at 1:25 in, he talks about walking in the "crisp snow" as he assumes a pose that matches an illustration from the book. In that instant, something in his brain switches focus to his actual environment, and he rewinds in order to swap in "crisp sidewalk."

12:18 AM PST  
Blogger Michael W said...

Maybe it's because I'm about to be a father, but I enjoyed this a lot.

9:28 AM PST  
Blogger Tim said...

As an educator, I have yet to see this in any student I have encountered over the last 5 years. I am intrigued and amazed.

8:46 PM PST  
Blogger sull said...

i bought this book for my daughter for christmas this year. quite a good memory he has! i have to show this to sophie.

10:12 PM PST  
Blogger Rupert said...

I read this to my little girl last night. I love it, and it's great to see Ben's hyperlexia have such a playful and powerful outlet.

For contrast, I am surprised by how my daughter Amy remembers her books pretty much word for word. She'll finish a sentence if I stop reading - we play games with this, and did with Owl Moon last night. But she wouldn't just recite pages, let alone the whole book (word perfect, with improv!) That's really astonishing.

Thank you :)

9:40 AM PST  
Blogger sull said...

sophie is like that too... where she loves to finish a page if i stop reading or points out little pieces of the illustration that are in some way implied or mentioned in the story. she also likes to perform shows for us and often her singing will actually be ths stories we read her, often intertwined though.

i read about hyperlexia last night after watching this video... and took a look at Christa's blog. I'm going to keep up with it because it's very interesting. Sophie is going through an evaluation now as she is certainly unique among her peers and we want to learn more and respond with the best parenting styles that we can forumulate to maximize her benefit. that's worded cold but i dont know how else to put it :/
She is 3 1/2 now so we are taking our observations and those of her teachers and others seriously.

ode to the mysterious world of parenthood and childhood!

10:02 AM PST  
Blogger Chris Ereneta said...

Sull (hope you're following this; didn't find an email address on your videoblog):

We were able to get Ben a free assessment through the public school district's special ed department once he turned three, so I'd suggest you call to see if something similar is available for Sophie.

It sounds like you've got a positive attitude going in. It's easy for parents to slip into a mentality of "fixing" their kid's quirks (admittedly, some quirks are more challenging than others). For us we sought out intervention to help Ben cope a bit better in environments where he's less comfortable.

The communication skills he's developed in his special ed program have been huge in helping lower his frustration levels in those situations.

9:00 PM PST  
Blogger sull said...

I am following, Chris.

Thanks. That is what we recently did... free eval services.

I actually have another one in the morning that will focus on Sophie's emotions.

Like you, we just want to reduce any social frustrations that she may be experiencing. She started school last spring and we gradually started to see the manifestation of new personality characteristics.

Like Ben, she is extremely intelligent and aware. She is also very emotional and shy in certain social situations, especially when attention is put solely on her... selective mutism can occur.

So Sophie's issues are based around social circumstances. Will learn more, I am sure, tomorrow morning.

Thanks for the reply.
I can be reached at sulleleven at gmail.

Btw, today i was at a park with Sophie and i decided to leave the playground area with her and head towards the trees to go owling. Soon after... well, not an owl but a huge Hawk jumped out of some brush and flew up to a tree in front of us. Was quite stunning and unexpected. We loved it.


9:27 PM PST  
Blogger MOM-NOS said...

I'm having trouble viewing the video. I think it's my computer - I'll keep plugging. But I also wanted to pop in and thank you for the bluegrass info you left on my recent post. It's incredibly helpful!

9:45 AM PST  
Anonymous Nathan said...

I watched it on the Semanal thread before coming here to read the backstory. Ben's an amazing guy - thanks for sharing this!

10:10 AM PST  

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