Sunday Salon: What’s Valentine’s Day got to do with it? (Pretty much nothing, to be honest.)

The Sunday

Booking Through Thursday asked a very good question this week:

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?

Answering the last question first: NEVER, probably. I honestly can’t wrap my head around the idea that any child who grows up around me would not love reading, but that’s probably because I really haven’t had to deal with it – I’ve been lucky that way.

My son, now in his mid-20s, learned to read before he started kindergarten, but I began reading simple picture books to him when he was barely a year old, just to get him used to it. I read to him at bedtime nearly every night, and by the time he was in preschool, he would go through the books with me. We phased out reading aloud together by the time he was in second grade, because by then he preferred reading by himself, but he continued to read – and he always saw me reading, so the example was in front of him from the beginning. Even now, he takes after his mom; he’s always up for a trip to the bookstore, although he’s not likely to choose the same books that I would – his tastes run more toward fantasy, science fiction, and sports.

I wasn’t around to influence my stepchildren’s early reading development, but their parents laid a good foundation; I’m just trying to keep it going. Being part of the book-blogging community helps with that; I don’t read and review many kids’ and young-adult books, but I know people who do, and since I live with a middle-grader and a high-schooler, I look to other bloggers for books to suggest to them. Sometimes I’ll read them first, particularly if I’m considering the book for my 15-year-old stepdaughter; that was how I was able to say “You WILL read these NOW” when I handed her The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. (Fortunately, she loved them, and got her two best friends interested too.) I picked the first two Percy Jackson and the Olympians books out for my 10-year-old stepson as Christmas gifts, and he’s hooked now.

But as I said, I’ve had it pretty easy. Still, I’m not sure I would require a kid to read outside of what he or she was obligated to do for school if they really didn’t enjoy it. To me, that’s the opposite of “reading for pleasure,” and makes it seem too much like “eat your vegetables.” I’d probably be more likely to suggest books that seemed to be a good fit for the child’s interests instead of more “typical” young-reader fare – and my “suggestions” would probably involve providing the books themselves sometimes. I might have to adopt an “any reading is better than no reading” mindset that didn’t discourage things like character tie-in books (my stepson has quite a collection of books featuring Pokemon and Bakugan), hoping that eventually, occasionally, something would engage him. With that in mind, I’d always suggest reading as an activity if the child seemed at a loss for something to do, and of course, I’d still model reading for enjoyment myself.

Because I haven’t mentioned it recently and there are only 2 more weeks to vote:

Even if you won’t be at BlogHer’10 as a book blogger (because everyone is going to BEA and Book Blogger Con instead), don’t you think Book Bloggers should have a Room of (Y)Our Own? If you’re not a member of, please sign up (quick and FREE) and cast your vote by clicking the “I would attend this session” link.

Just follow the link below for details and voting – and if you HAVE voted for the session already, thank you!

Book Bloggers: Reading and Writing All About It | BlogHer

BOOKKEEPING: The Reading Status Report

Reviews posted since last report:
American Rust, by Phillip Meyer (TLC Book Tour)
** I forgot to mention it in the review, but this will be the 20-Minute Book Club selection for my appearance as Nicole‘s guest on That’s How I Blog! (Blog Talk Radio, Tuesday, May 4 at 9 PM EDT/6 PM PDT)

Next reviews scheduled

The Wives of Henry Oades: A Novel, by Johanna Moran (TLC Book Tours, Tuesday 2/23)

New to my LibraryThing “To Read” Collection:
For review:
In the Land of Believers: An Outsider’s Extraordinary Journey into the Heart of the Evangelical Church, by Gina Welch

For me, in a book-buying “Mardi Gras” binge before I give it up for Lent:
When Will There Be Good News?: A Novel, by Kate Atkinson
Blind Submission: A Novel and The Grift: A Novel, both by Debra Ginsberg
Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith, by Barbara Brown Taylor

New additions to the Wishlist:
The Postmistress, by Sarah Blake

BOOKMARKS: Reading-related Reading

“Not Always Right,” the bookstore edition (a guest post on The Book Lady’s Blog)

For your consideration: literary gimmicks. Speaking of gimmicks – does a “where are they now?” book about the Sweet Valley High girls qualify as one? (I’m just asking – I was way too old for those books!)
Why it takes so long to get a book published (the “traditional” way, that is)

Say it on a T-shirt, just like…Mr. Darcy(?) (via Friday Playdate)

Have a great reading week!

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  1. Oh, I loved The Postmistress…I read it this week and reviewed it!

    Check out my Salon here:

    Also…When Will There Be Good News? is a most enjoyable book that I read a few months ago.

    As for the reading issues…my two oldest are readers and the two younger ones, not so much. How did that happen? I read to them all!

    One of life's intriguing questions, I guess, but I keep trying to encourage my daughter, even now…maybe she'll learn to love it later. She does read to her son, just as I did to her. He's in first grade and loving his library books.

    Have a great reading week!

  2. Glad you enjoyed the AiB guest post! I thought it was a lot of fun.

    I also got IN THE LAND OF BELIEVERS from LT Early Reviewers. I'm really looking forward to it, but kind of wondering how it will be different from Kevin Roose's THE UNLIKELY DISCIPLE.

  3. Laurel – I wish I knew why reading clicks with some kids and not others, even if they all get the same exposure. As I said, I've been lucky in that respect – it HAS clicked. I'm not sure what I'd do if it didn't!

    I've read the first two of Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brodie books and have been looking forward to this one for a while.

    Rebecca – I really enjoy the AiB posts, but I guess now that you've changed jobs, most of them will come from guests now? Just keep 'em coming!

    The Unlikely Disciple is on my wish list – haven't read it yet. You'll probably get to in the Land of Believers before I do.

  4. My son was one who was not a reader, but when he was in his early 20's he started and hasn't stopped. His Dad made him a bookshelf and when it was filled, made another. It makes me so proud and happy that he now reads all the books I hoped he would read and so many more. Never give up hope!!

  5. My son is not a reader but I haven't given up yet. There are books that appeal to him, The Outsiders was one but he continues to tell me that reading is "work" and it pains me to no end. I spent a lot of his early years reading to him but it hasn't really mattered.

    I didn't have as much time to read with my daughter as she kept me hopping but she IS a reader. Reads all the time and doesn't hesitate to plop down next to me with her own book in hand. It's funny how that happens.

  6. Joemamas – I guess that just goes to show it's never too late for someone to change, or to at least try something different. Good for your son!

    Ti – Sometimes it takes and sometimes it doesn't. My 15-year-old seems to read less than she used to, but the 10-year-old is reading more.

    But I can imagine how difficult is is to have your son feel that reading is "work." Unfortunately, I think the way schools approach it these days probably contributes to that. Hopefully, you'll keep finding books that catch his interest.

  7. My boys are both readers and I always assumed all of my children would be, they were all raised the same way. What I didn't count on was a reading disability that went undiagnosed for years. My daughter could read the words; she just couldn't remember by the time she got to the end of the page what she had read. So reading has never been pleasurable for her. As her skills have improved, her interest has increased some. We continue to try to provide her with reading material that will pique her interest. Hopefully, one day, it will all click for her.

  8. Lisa – That's certainly an understandable reason for not enjoying reading, and one that may be a factor more than some parents realize. I'm glad your daughter is coming along.

  9. I wish there was a magic pill that would hook kids into reading. I'm hoping that 'never give up' attitude and continuous exposure might do the trick. 3 of our 4 are readers. It's too soon to tell with the youngest, but he doesn't sit for stories the way the others did …

    I voted in the BlogHer poll, and I'm sending it around on twitter, too. I hope it get the exposure you're looking for, and is added to the schedule.

  10. Dawn – I think it's getting harder for kids to sit down for stories – too many other things going on! And I can imagine that a youngest might be afraid of missing out on something else that's fun :-). Hang in there! But I agree, that magic pill would be awesome!

    Also awesome – YOU, for voting for the Book Bloggers ROYO at BlogHer'10! Thanks for your help to make it happen.