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?

I don’t think there’s really such a thing as a non-reader. Whenever I encounter someone who doesn’t like to read, it’s because they have had classics shoved down their throat during school, or because these classics aren’t accessibly written (understandable, given their age). They have to disassociate reading from that, and learn that there are good, interesting, and amazing books out there.

Requiring them to read is a terrible, terrible idea–it just reminds them of school and whatever classic made them hate reading. My mother once required me to read Silas Marner before I could dig into Good Omens. To this day, I remember nothing about Silas Marner, but Good Omens is one of my favorite books. Suggestions and books as gifts are much, much better. A suggestion can lead to a conversation to help the child find a book they’ll like, and everybody likes gifts. If a child hates reading, requiring it will only make them hate it more.

I do have to say, I don’t have much experience with non-readers. Even friends who aren’t as voracious as I am have their favorite books, and I’ve always found myself in spaces dominated by women who read. My mother and I even have books in mind for my brother’s future children. There is little to no chance that a child in my family will hate reading.

16 thoughts on “Booking Through Thursday: Encouragement

  1. Your response is similar to mine–don’t force the books on readers.

    Also, I think we need to recall that even though we may not like the books they’re reading, at least they’re reading. I can’t stand the Twilight novels, but I do understand they’re getting a lot of young girls reading. I do wish they’d expand the horizons a bit and see there are other books besides those about sparkly vampires..but what can you do?

    • I’m so glad that your children love to read! While we didn’t watch TV all that much when I was little, I did have video games, and I do have to ascribe my love for vast, epic fantasy to Warcraft 2 and The Legend of Zelda. Video games can be good for the imagination!

  2. When I hear the word classics, I go straight back to my high school years and just shudder. I HATED them, that is until I grew up and started reading them with my children. There are so many good ones out there, that it’s a shame that only those certain few are FORCED upon the masses. I enjoyed Silas Marner – but as an adult. Too bad you were forced to read it. 😦

    I really enjoyed your post!!

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

  3. My mom always had books around the house and her friends did as well. I think it was her example that made me want to read.

    On the other hand she did force music on me when I wanted to do theater (you could only have one elective at my high school). That didn’t work too well and it took years to enjoy playing flute on my own.

    Aloha from Rob

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