Suggested by Barbara H:
How can you encourage a non-reading child to read? What about a teen-ager? Would you require books to be read in the hopes that they would enjoy them once they got into them, or offer incentives, or just suggest interesting books? If you do offer incentives and suggestions and that doesn’t work, would you then require a certain amount of reading? At what point do you just accept that your child is a non-reader?
In the book Gifted Hands by brilliant surgeon Ben Carson, one of the things that turned his life around was his mother’s requirement that he and his brother read books and write book reports for her. That approach worked with him, but I have been afraid to try it. My children don’t need to “turn their lives around,” but they would gain so much from reading and I think they would enjoy it so much if they would just stop telling themselves, “I just don’t like to read.”
Poor Barbara! Children who do not like to read? I shudder at the thought. Thankfully, both of my children love to read. My son, in fact, is such a voracious reader that we have to tell his teachers to take books away while in school because he does such a good job of zoning out the classroom environment while reading. My daughter is forever bringing us books to read, and a true punishment for her when she has been naughty at kindergarten is to forego our nightly reading.
Having children who are readers has always been extremely important to both my husband and me. We started with Connor early, taking turns reading aloud to him while the other fed him his last bottle and rocked him to sleep (the books of choice in those early days were the Harry Potter series – one chapter each night). When my husband was in Bosnia, he even videotaped himself reading several books out loud so that we could play them for Connor, still allowing Daddy to read to him each night.
With Holly, we were not quite as vigilant – that second kid thing – but thankfully, she loves her books too. She sees her brother constantly reading and both Daddy and me with books and very much wants to emulate us. She might never be as voracious a reader as her brother, but the interest in books is still alive. She is just learning to read for herself, and I am looking forward to seeing how that changes her reading habits.
No matter what, I will continue to promote reading before bedtime each night as well as searching out books that will appeal to their individual interests. Knowing how insistent I am with my nieces and nephews – B&N gift cards with the instructions to purchase at least one book to read throughout the year, making suggestions for books they might like, actually buying books for them – I would never give up on my own children. I do not know if I would ever go so far as to offer incentives because I do believe that reading should not become a chore to be rewarded when accomplished. I take the more
naive Pollyanna-esque optimistic view that there is an ideal book out there for each person. Finding the right book that would attract a non-reader to venture into the reading world may be a challenge but worth the effort in the end. I say this because my brother is essentially a non-reader, but even he has a favorite author and book series that he will read and re-read because he enjoys them so much. Therefore, I do believe that there is hope out there for even the most vehement non-reader. The key is to not give up and to continue to find that perfect book that will change his or her mind.
What do you think? Too hopeful and idealistic a thought?
var linkwithin_site_id = 125794;
Thanks, Library Staff, for both compliments!
Not too idealistic at all. I agree. I do believe there is a book for everyone. Sometimes it just takes a little searching…
P.S. Great blog!
Thanks, Ceri! My husband accused me of being naive and too optimistic the other day, so now I question whether there is such a thing. Glad to know that finding the right book has been proven by studies!
I completely agree with you. I don't think that's idealistic in any way.
About a year or two ago I watched a programme on BBC where a man went around some of the UK's schools to find out which children were reading and which weren't. He went to one school that had a bad record for readers and turned them all into bookworms by finding something for everyone and reading aloud and having book fairs and book weeks and book clubs. 😀
I love that your children are good readers. I hope when I have children they'll be just the same.
Cutlex – Thanks! My son is firmly entrenched in the HP lore and does have his own copy of all of the books. Like I said, I haven't been as vigilant with my daughter, but I do believe that is about to change.
Yes! Encourage Harry Potter! Encourage reading. With bedtime stories, Harry Potter will be a classic though I think it already is or sure it would be.
That's very cute of your husband. Though far, he is concerned at the very end of the day of the welfare of your kids and the habit of reading every night in the house.
Matt – I think the big theme I've found is reading together. It seems to be the one thing almost everyone agrees to be a successful way to promote reading to offspring.
I would not go as far to offer incentives to promote reading, at least not for my students in class. I do give reading quizzes (unannounced) to keep them afloat on the reading.
I wouldn't have children myself, but if I'm a parent, I would read with the kids together. Have a little reading time in the morning or at least over the weekend in which we read together.
Lisa, I think the fact that you never gave up, that you modeled good reading behavior and that it remains important to you, your daughter was more inclined to come around.
My two boys are both readers. The oldest one read the 3rd Harry Potter in one sitting the day it came out. But my daughter has never liked to read and try as we might, nothing has helped. She does have attention deficit which makes it difficult but then so does my oldest. They've all been read to since they were babies and had bookshelves loaded with great choices in their rooms. She is finally, as a high school freshman, beginning to find books she actually wants to read.
Thanks, Brooke! I understand it can be quite the battle, but at the same time, we don't read all these books without learning something, right?
I think you're right. Finding an appropriate book is most of the battle.
Here is mine
Tweezle – Thanks for the confirmation that I'm not idealistic!
Alayne – Thanks! It was one of those suggestions that was mentioned to us as a way to keep my husband in his life as he was only two when my husband was stationed there. As a wife, they were hard to watch and sit through, especially when he would tell “TV Daddy” good night afterwards, but I think it was worth it.
Jennifer – My son is turning out to be the same way. He frequently requests books as presents, loves going to the library each week and loves bookstores as much as I do. It is so much fun to watch that delight grow.
Lori – You are proof that kids can learn to love to read!
Excellent post! Nope – I don't think you are being idealistic at all 🙂
I had to deal with this with my oldest child.
Here's my response.
Great answer, I know I'll definitely read to my children (when I have them). The part about your husband making the videos was very sweet. 🙂
I've posted a Valentines related question at The Crowded Leaf if you're interested.
My children have been read to since they were babies, became early readers and the passion has stayed with them into their teens. We are not a telly watching family and we do not own any gaming systems. My teens love bookstores and libraries and request books as gifts. My full BTT: http://www.rundpinne.com/2010/02/booking-through-thursday-encouraging.html
Mt kids love to read NOW…but they always didn't. Here's Mine