Thursday, February 11, 2010

Booking Through Thursday: Encouragement

Wow, whole careers have been built on answering today's BTT question ("How can you encourage a non-reading child to read?"). So I'm just going to say, up front, I'm really not at all qualified to say much on the subject – never having been a parent or a teacher. And the idea that I might have had to accept that my child "is a non-reader" brings a chill to my heart!

I've always found it very hard to understand a child who doesn't like to read. I didn't understand it, even when I was a child myself. I wanted to read, pretty much from the moment I saw words printed on a page and began to figure out that those strange looking marks meant something to the big people who looked at them. Some of my earliest memories – I would have been about two or three – are of sitting on my parents' bed with some of their books spread around me, and pretending to read the pages. There were no illustrations to grab my attention – just the printed words were enough to hold me enthralled.

I don't really have any memories of anyone teaching me, although I remember that my mother and grandmothers and aunts used to read to me a lot. But whatever the case, I know that when I finally turned six and went to school (Texas didn't have a lot of kindergarten or pre-school programs in those days), I could already read a bit. So I ripped through those primers with Tom and Susan and Spot and Pony, and headed right for all the "enrichment" readers, with real stories and adventures to lose myself in. And I've been an enthusiastic reader ever since.

But I really don't have a clue about how to instill that love of reading. I know that the old patterns and routines and systems probably don't work as well on the children of today – they simply don't look at reading in the same way we did when I was young. They have so many more opportunities for "escape" and entertainment. Also, reading is such a solitary activity (even if we're talking about reading for a book club, the reading itself is usually done alone) – and today's younger generations are decidedly social and communal organisms. I'm sad to have to say it (and I hate starting the day off on such a pessimistic note), but I really think that reading for pleasure, for the simple satisfaction of enjoying a great story, or visiting new places, or taking wisdom from the masters is most likely a dying phenomenon.

Of course, I hope I'm wrong!


  1. Ugh I can't imagine reading for pleasure as a dying phenomenon, especially with all of US out there! :) I think maybe us readers are more an awesome vintage underground culture, we're the cool ones, it's just that others may not agree. Haha!

    I posted a Valentines book-related question at The Crowded Leaf if you're interested!

  2. Good answer! I don't know if reading for pleasure is a dying phenomenon, especially with all the new YA books that are in the bookstores. Twilight, Harry Potter... the kids read the books and the signings and midnight parties for the releases. I don't remember things like that when I was a kid.

    I had to deal with this with my oldest child.
    Here's my response.

  3. I'm with you! Who are we, non-professionals, to judge?!

  4. Your prognosis on the future of reading made me sad :( Probably because I saw a lot of truth in it.

  5. I was a kid, a teenager and a college student who didn't like to read anything (I still don't read newspaper), and look at what I am reading now....

  6. I really enjoyed your answer! I too was someone who had a love for reading at such an early age that I can't even imagine not loving to read instinctively!

  7. Teachers are taught to model the love of reading, yet my son was indifferent until a male friend gave him some old trucker magazines. Allen was 12, and he read those cover to cover. That birthed his love of reading. To this day, he usually has a book going.

  8. I have seen a HUGE increase in the number of my high school students who read in the past few years. It started with Harry Potter, continued with Twilight and now they are just reading everything. In fact, some of my best book "recommenders" are my students. I even host a book club twice a month after school at the students' request. Keep the faith, reading among young adults is making a comeback!


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