Thursday, February 11, 2010

Booking Through Thursday - Encouragement


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.”

I'm not a parent, but my instinct here would be to lead by example. In other words, I think if I wanted my children to be readers, I would make sure to be a reader myself and surround them with books. I would talk about the books I'm reading and make sure that they saw me reading and enjoying reading. I would also make sure that there wasn't some other problem like a learning disorder that might be interfering with their desire to read, and talk to their teachers about what might be going on. After that, I would take them to the library and help them pick out books on things they're interested in- maybe nonfiction books about a hobby or a sport or a celebrity that they like. I would make an effort to not impose my own tastes but work with them to find out if maybe there's something they'd like to do or learn more about- almost the same approach I use with library patrons. And I'd just talk to them and make sure that they knew that I love them no matter what!

You can find more Booking Through Thursday answers here.

16 comments:

Lori said...

Their freinds and bribery worked for me, perhaps a bit of timing as well. Here's Mine

Alayne said...

Wonderful answer. Libraries were such a magical place for me when I was younger, they really helped foster my love of reading.

I've posted a Valentines related question at The Crowded Leaf if you're interested.

HKatz said...

The presence of a television that's on most of the time is also a major distraction.

Another complication is the internet - reading material on the internet is packaged differently: information in small chunks with lots of graphics and quick links pulling you off in new directions. It's different than the sustained attention to a longer-developing story that's required by most books.

Reading by example is a good idea, and it's also nice to have a family book club - all reading the same book and then discussing it. Or encourage them to do the same with their friends (sometimes this arises spontaneously anyway, with popular books like Harry Potter that a lot of kids read at the same time).

tweezle said...

Good answer!

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

Brooke from The Bluestocking Guide said...

Reading really is a discipline that has to be instilled.

Here is mine

bermudaonion said...

That's exactly the right thing to do. Children imitate what they see when they're young. When my son was in 2nd or 3rd grade, he made a sculpture of me reading and he wrote that I was really happy because I was doing my favorite thing - I was in the house by myself, reading. He made me sound obsessed!

pussreboots said...

My two kids were already addicted to books before they started school. Now I am teaching my oldest how to use the library and how to politely ask the librarian for help. My post is here.

jlshall said...

Great answer! I always think that "leading by example" is very important when you're trying to instill a love of reading. But, from what I'm reading today, I guess it just doesn't work with all children.

This was a fun topic. My thoughts are here.

Memory said...

Great answer! My parents are both avid readers, and I'm sure my own love of reading sprung, in no small part, from their example.

Alexia561 said...

Great discussion! I think I picked my obsession up from my father, who was a big reader. Also used my school library all the time.

Don't know if requiring kids to read outside of school would work, as I know that I resented having to read certain books for English class. I briefly lost my taste for reading because of someone "forcing" me to read books I didn't like.

Marie said...

Alexia, I would never force someone to read something. I'd just try to find something they'd be interested in and work it from that angle.

HKatz, yes. But I don't think either has spoiled kids for reading. Look at those huge tomes today's kids read!

jewwishes said...

My children grew up surrounded by books, books on all subjects, age-related...of course.

Books were a part of their lives, and to this day still are. And, their children are surrounded by books, even Logan, at seven months, loves his books. Emily at almost three, is constantly reading and rereading her books (creating the stories, through the pictures.

My older grandchildren are bookaholics...how wonderful it is!

They aren't forced to read, but read and enjoy books on their own. It is part of their environment.

Nana Fredua-Agyeman said...

I have no children on my own yet, but I always think of what I am going to do to make them love reading. I have thought of going to bookshops with them to buy books for myself and for them, where they would pick the books they like. Besides, we would have time to read together and I would talk about the books I read and make sure that I enjoy them and make them see that I am enjoying them. In a way you are teaching them the habbit of reading. I hope it works.

caite said...

I am not a parent either..but I will use the example of my niece. My bro and my SIL are BIG readers. Books always around, always read to the niece when she was little, bought her books, etc.
But she was never a reader.

Then..late high school, she discovered an author she loved and the rest was history. So, I think you just have to expose kids to as many books and subjects and authors as possible...until they find the one they fall in love with.

Jeanne said...

My kids are so busy, as teenagers. So I bring books home that I think they'd like and leave them lying around. It works!

Zibilee said...

My kids are big readers and we talk books all the time, in addition to me bringing home tons of books home for them. One of the things that worked when they were younger was to let them stay up as late as they desired on weekends, but only if they were reading. I think my husband got that idea from author Spider Robinson. It seems to have worked because my daughter reads faster than I do and always has a book in her hands! Great topic, Marie!