The year I survived 3rd grade (again) and fell in love with Judy Moody

It’s official, I have survived 3rd grade for the 2nd time (only one more to go.) FCAT scores are back and Puddin’ exceeded our expectations. I wish I could call up Megan McDonald and personally thank her but she would wonder who the crazy lady blubbering on the phone was. Judy Moody changed our lives this year and we now officially have a “reader” who scored high and above what is required by the state to move on to 4th grade. Double Rare!

I know that every child does not start out loving to read the way I did, and the way FancyPants has. Most are probably more like Puddin’ and see it as something they are made to do at school – as work. Much to my dismay, one of the lessons of Motherhood for me has been that the love of books does not come to everyone naturally and for 4 years now we have struggled to get our 9-year-old to settle down and read each night as required by her teachers.

Week after week, night after night – the fights raged on. Books are boring, books are stupid, why do I have to read every night… it was heartbreaking for me. I tried everything I could think of but nothing sparked her interest and every page, every chapter was a battle. Until Judy …

On a whim I picked up a Judy Moody book at the book fair because – frankly it wasn’t that long and with one required chapter book a week, it seemed do-able. I had never heard of Judy or her brother Stink but they were about to become my favorite people on the planet. Puddin’ grudgingly started reading it one Monday evening and to my surprise kept reading it long past the required time limit that night. When I tucked her in she was excited to tell me all about what she had read. Judy, it seemed, was what my dear friend Anne would have called a kindred spirit. “She’s just like me Mama!”

I took the book with me out of her room that night and read it myself  – I too fell in love with Judy. She was indeed, kindred.  Puddin’ finished the book in record time and we celebrated by making our very own “I ate a Shark” t-shirt. We borrowed and checked out the next few and then bought the whole set at the next Scholastic Warehouse Sale.  We were officially hooked. The term “Rare” has become far too over-used in our house.

From the first JM book on, something clicked for her. Books were no longer boring, we did not fight about reading time. For the first time, her reading grades were better than her math grades (might have something to do with stinkin’ fractions but we won’t go there). For the first time, I heard those words that make a mother’s heart sing – “Reading Above Grade Level.”

And today, with two weeks left in this school year, she came flying in the back door from the bus – grinning ear to ear. “Mama’, I’m going to 4th grade! I passed the FCAT!” (Florida requires 3rd graders to have a minimum score on reading to advance to 4th grade) Then I pulled out her planner and saw that score – higher than I let myself even hope for and far above just passing. And I cried a little. Happy Happy Tears -  I told her. She earned it, she worked so hard, fought through all those frustrations but most of all found a friend I know she will have for life..

It has not been an easy school year, it has been full of shaky teachers, mean girls, and fractions but we have ended on a high note. We have a stack of books lined up just for summer. There are even special ones that have been ear marked for camp! She wants to take books with her to camp! 

Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer comes out in theatres June 10 which is joyfully the last day of school here in our district. We will officially wrap up 3rd grade by putting on our I Ate a Shark t-shirts and being the first in line to see our new best friend in her very first movie. I cannot imagine a more perfect way to wrap up this year.  I love you Megan McDonald, I don’t know you – but prayers of thanks are in heaven for you tonight.

One thought on “The year I survived 3rd grade (again) and fell in love with Judy Moody

  1. Sounds like my Ramona in grade school. Congrats.

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