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BTT: Early and Often

February 11, 2010


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.”

Oh, I have no idea. I’d like to say that if you let your child catch you reading early and often then he or she will learn that reading is like eating: it simply must be done. My parents read around and to me constantly and I am, well, obviously, a big reader. My husband is not a reader, at least not of books (he loves his Huffington Post) and his parents were not big readers, at least when he was little (they are, now).

I would like to think, because I read my books, his books and other people’s books, to my son that he will pick up the habit simply because it’s there. They say habit and family culture are the biggest factors in raising a reader but who knows? My son will be two a month from tomorrow and loves to “read” and be read to. He likes to pick up his books and babble on and point out pictures. He falls asleep to me reading every night. We sit at the book store or library and he gets two stacks of books off of the shelf, one for himself one for me, and he’ll tell me what his books are about and expects me to do the same. When we’re “done”, he’ll have us switch. It’s a little bit like If You Give a Mouse a Cookie but I do’t mind.

Does all of this translate into a middle school, a high school or even an adult reader? There is absolutely no telling. All I can hope is that by providing books on my bookshelf and his, taking him to the library, bookstore, storytime and readings, and showing him how to work my Nook that he will at least give it a shot.

All of this said, I am encouraged by this:

The other day, we were sitting on the potty (which he is still trying to master at 2) and he asked if he could please have a book while he was on the potty. If he’s reading before he’s potty trained, I think it might be safe to say that I’ll have a life long literature lover…

11 Comments leave one →
  1. February 11, 2010 9:03 am

    I’ve always liked to think its parental influence. Yet me and my sister were brought up together in a house full of books and I love reading, and she very rarely reads anything. I don’t know. It can only help though.

  2. February 11, 2010 10:40 am

    I think the big cliff where we lose male readers in middle school. As I said in my post, it’s then that they start to begin reading more their own choices and they are, sometimes, looked down on by teachers, etc.

    I know that in middle school and high school, my personal reading choices were not popular with English teachers especially, but the thing is I enjoyed them. I did like a book to challenge me every once in a while, but I also enjoyed an easier, bubble-gum for the brain book as well.

    And just look at the YA section of the book store and see how the books are targeted. I’d say 90% of them have covers that are targeted at girls….

  3. February 11, 2010 11:05 am

    My dad used to read out for us from scientific books. I developed interest in the sciences as well as reading from him. All four of his kids are very much in the sciences but I am the only one who reads like crazy!

    Booking Through Encouragement

  4. February 11, 2010 11:16 am

    Their freinds and bribery worked for me. Here’s Mine

  5. February 11, 2010 12:12 pm

    That is such a cute story! Your son sounds like he will definitely grow up to have a love of literature.

    I posted a Valentines related question at The Crowded Leaf if you’re interested in checking it out.

  6. February 11, 2010 12:18 pm

    I began reading to my children when they were babies, they became early readers and have a love for libraries and bookstores and as teens request books as gifts. We also do not watch much telly and we do not have gaming systems, my kids, now teens have always preferred reading. My full BTT:

  7. February 11, 2010 1:18 pm

    Sounds like you are already paying attention to what your child needs, and that he is an individual. Keep up the great work!

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

  8. February 11, 2010 3:00 pm

    I agree family culture is important.

    Here is mine

  9. February 11, 2010 5:51 pm

    It sounds like you’re raising a reader. My post is here.

  10. February 12, 2010 5:03 am

    Oh what a cute little kid. I don’t read while making potty though. I space out and day dream. LOL.

    In short, it’s showing them the example of reading, the joys of reading.

  11. February 13, 2010 10:47 am

    I agree – I think the child needs plenty of available reading material and they need to see you reading. Turning the TV off helps too!

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