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?
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