I read an interesting blog today that talked about the reading habits of children. The blog was Principal Joey. Mark it in your favorites because that site has a lot to tell you. The article I found was focused on making children read, a topic that I have struggled with my own children. Personally, I love to read. I try to pinpoint the moment when I found a love of the written word and I have tried to encourage homeschoolers to read for over ten years now. So far, my oldest is not impressed. Granted, there have been those moments where he picked up books. The Percy Jackson series was devoured. He likes reading zombie books now and then. But, I wouldn't say he has a love of reading.
So far, my youngest shows no interests in books.
There used to be a time when, at the end of the day, children were not forced to read. Rather, stories were a special time. Not all kids had this, I know. But there was a standard. It was not because we were told as parents that we had to read to our kids. We read with our family as a way to bond and in this there was something special to books. Then there are those that escaped through the words and into fantastical realms that they couldn't find elsewhere. Others simply enjoyed the intricacies of words. What it came down to was that there was a reason to read.
Are Video Games and Television to Blame for a Lack of Reading?
Some would say that video games cause a lack of reading. The same could be said for movies and television. Why read when you can just press a button and there is a visual adventure, comedy, or anything else the creative mind requires at your finger tips? I say this is bull. I grew up in a video game era. My brother and my cousin loved games and from them I learned to love them too. That didn't mean that was all that I did though. I think part of the issue was that there was a time to read when I was growing up. Plus, my parents liked to read and I did learn through example.
With each generation, as reading wanes, children are less likely to be interested. Never mind the fact that in the last ten years we have been bombarded by parents refusing to let children read certain books designed and meant for kids, simply because they didn't like the plot or morals. Ahem - Harry Potter and Twilight anyone?
Let the kids read what they want!
As children we grew up on books that our parents didn't always like. The generation before my own devoured Flowers in the Attic, which was not initially intended for the junior to high school audience. They loved them and read anyway. My generation had a variety of trash books to choose from. Personally, Interview With the Vampire and the subsequent Vampire Chronicles caught my eye. My love of Lestat is so apparent that even my eldest has the French Vampire's name as his middle name. Teens aren't going to have the same interests as adults and while I think it is great to encourage reading outside of the scope, there also needs to be a place for reading for pleasure. Allowing kids to read what they love and finding inspiration within books for their own passions is the only way that they are going to find passion therein the pages.
Don't force your kids to read!
Stop it. This is my own call to action. Seriously, why would you want to squash the love of literature? Do you know if your child is going to be a budding wordsmith? Perhaps they will find their passion later in life. That is okay. As a parent guiding by example and encouragement is enough, but for the love of all that is sacred, don't force it. This is especially true for the teens. Think back to when you were a teen and told what to do. You wanted your own freedom to explore, right? Teens today are no different and by encouraging your kids to read rather than making them do it you are giving them the choice.