Calvin & Hobbes - A Reading Curriculum

The following is an article I wrote in 2007 for Gather.com

Recently my brother-in-law, who is a network market junkie, sent us an email suggesting that we write our own homeschool curriculum, give him the rights to market it, and he will make us rich. Or at least help us make some money off of it. If only it were that easy!

Having homeschooled all 5 of my children, and still in the process of doing so, it is tempting to try to develop a curriculum that encapsulates all that we have done. My7yo learned to read using Calvin and Hobbes comics. How to turn that into a reading curriculum?

First you would start with a 4 year old boy with an active imagination. The Essential Calvin and Hobbes book is a good starting point. Have this book available to read while sitting in the bathroom. Allow your child to spend at least 1/2 hour per day perusing this book. Answer any questions he may have with any of the cartoons. Read to him the ones that interest him. Do not downplay any of the more complex words. Explain any words he doesn't understand.

As the child's interest increases, buy more Calvin and Hobbes books. Be willing to buy a striped red and white t-shirt for your boy to wear. Begin looking in toy stores for a stuffed tiger to buy. Send your child to a private christian school for a few months to learn his alphabet and phonics. (You can skip this step and teach this yourself - we were able to do this because daddy was working there).

By age 5 and 1/2 the child should have a good grasp of basic phonetics and begin putting letters together to make words. Have him point out everywhere that it says "Calvin" or "Hobbes" in the books. Read comics over and over to him until he has them memorized. Provide realms of paper, boxes of crayons, markers and other writing implements for him to use to draw his own pictures. Encourage him by oohing and ahhing over all his artistic creations. Do not be afraid to post his pictures on your walls and refrigerators. Even the death head ones.

Sometime around the age of 6 (or sooner depending on the child) realize you are no longer having to read the comics to him as he is sitting there reading them on his own. Continue to answer questions he may have on word pronunciation and meaning. Do not mind that he has changed his name to Calvin. Try to calm him down every time he bemoans the fact that you do not live in a place where it snows. (Some of you may not have to deal with this issue).

Finally, enjoy your new reader in the family and pat yourself on the back for a job well done.