Not long ago I was walking to my car after a tennis game.
In front of me on the sidewalk was a young boy about four years old who was staring at an abandoned fast food paper bag on the sidewalk. His mother was just ahead of him holding a younger brother and watching an older sister.
So I said to him. "Watch out for the monster in the bag." So the game began."There's no monster in the bag" he said. "Of course there is" I claimed, as I kicked it without him seeing me do it. He ran toward it and was about to open it when I said in my best monster voice " Don't touch me or I will eat you."
His now engaged mother sighed with relief.
We continued on for a few more minutes until I admitted that yes "You were right! There was no monster in the bag."
Of course, he was now jabbering like a jaybird. We had become fast friends. So to encourage his obvious curiosity, I gave him a signed copy of my first book. He immediately got down on all fours on the sidewalk to flip through all the pages - pretending to read by making up his own story to the pictures.
So what is the message here?
Boys learn through curiosity, imagination and experimentation. Particularly if it's fun and active. If you allow boys to do this enough in their early learning years, they will eventually come around to reading - on their own terms and timeframe.
And probably about monsters in a bag.
p.s. I thanked the young wise mother for allowing me to interact with her son without interference on her part. Children need to be able to speak with strangers and initiate conversations without fear. It helps their social development beyond family circles.
And btw, this kind of interaction with kids happens to me all the time. I really don't know why but it is always fun. Must be my clown nose.