Monday, February 15, 2010

Booking It--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.”

Boy, what a question. I know when my children were young, I read books and articles that recommended letting them see how important reading is to you by reading in front of them, making reading material readily available in your household, reading aloud to them, talking about books you've enjoyed, etc. I did all of those things. Probably to excess. I wanted my kids to be readers.

My success rate? 1 out of 3.

My oldest is a reader. He reads for pleasure, and he reads for knowledge. We discuss books and recommend books to each other. There is no doubt that reading is an important part of his life. My daughter reads only rarely and my youngest son not at all.

I don't think that my efforts were in vain, however, even if I didn't have a 100% success rate. The books that I read aloud to my children gave us some wonderful shared memories. They'll see or hear something and say, "Oh, Mom, that's like what we read in . . ." Or "Mom, do you remember that book you read us about so-and-so? . . ." And they still laugh at me for the time I couldn't finish reading Sounder to them because I was crying too hard. My oldest son said, "Here, Mom, give the book to me" and finished reading the last chapter.

I know that you can encourage reading in children, but I don't think there are any guaranteed methods for turning your children into readers. I really do believe it is at least partly born in a child. My reading was encouraged by my parents and my aunt who read to me and by teachers and librarians who recognized and encouraged my love of reading, but I truly believe I would have been a reader anyway. I need to read. However, my brother, who NEVER read a book in his life that he wasn't made to (and even then, he probably read the blurb and only enough of the book to fake a book report) has a daughter who is a voracious reader.

Of course, that's a neat thing, because she and I get to talk books.

So, what do you do? The best you can.

1 comment:

Travis said...

They'll never get Reep-a-Cheep's voice right in the movies!