Raising Readers

Marilyn Pappano

From the time he was itty-bitty, my kiddo always loved books — looking at them, being read to, reading them himself. Even as he grew up, he continued to be an avid reader. When he was twelve or so, while reading in the doctor’s office, he looked up and said, “This guy really sucks on point of view,” then went back to reading. (“This guy” was John Grisham. And he did suck on POV in that book.)

But now the kid doesn’t read much. There’s work. Family. Internet surfing. Computer games. Motorcycles. Music. Sleep. The avid reader is now an occasional reader, at best. DIL doesn’t read much, either — magazines, work-releated stuff, but not books. And I’m wondering what are the odds that the grandkiddo will  choose to spend time lost in books when he doesn’t see his parents doing it. He doesn’t even like being read to, which just makes me sad. I have so many warm and fuzzy memories of hours with his daddy and our books.

How do you persuade people — kids, adults, whatever age – to read? Is it a love that can be passed on? How have books lost such incredible ground to every other form of entertainment out there when they’re no doubt the BEST form of entertainment out there? (No prejudice here, huh?)

My parents weren’t great readers beyond newspapers and the Bible, but I’ve loved reading since before I knew how. I was a shy kid, and had a speech impediment on top of that. Books were my friends. Plenty of stories, excitement, passion, humor (and no teasing about the way I talked). I read all the time. I practically read my way through the public library, and borrowed books from everyone I knew who would loan them.

Since I started publishing, I read less, but I don’t love it any less. I just want everyone else to love it, especially my grandkiddo. Got any magic tips?

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8 thoughts on “Raising Readers

  1. Marilyn,

    When I had my first child, I asked my mom how she raised 8 kids to all be avid readers. She handed me a photocopied article with 10 steps to take to make your child a reader. I wish I still had that article, it was succinct and offered sage advice. One of the first things was to ‘model reading’. It said it didn’t matter if you read books, magazines or articles, as long as you read for pleasure in front of your kids.

    The department of education offers some simplistic advice on their website: http://www.ed.gov/parents/academic/help/reader/brochure.pdf

    I just think that as a grandmom, you invent the “book of the month” club and start buying that kiddo some books. Think of it as your way of improving the economy by throwing money at the bookstores. spw

    • I’ll check out the link, Sandee. I buy the kiddo books — and gave him a stack of his dad’s favorites when he was a kid. I like the book of the month idea. I’ve always given books to kids as gifts. Even if they’re not avid readers, I figure they’ve got to have the option there for the inevitable moment when every toy in the house is familiar and boring and there’s nothing on TV. One day, even if by accident, they’ll pick up a book and open it and they’ll be captivated. (At least, that’s how it happened with my nieces and nephews. LOL)

  2. Good question, Marilyn! Both parents read, but not books–or not that I was aware of. I remember my father reading books to me, then making me read them to him. Amy was a great reader yet you couldn’t roped Tim to a chair to let me read. He’s not a book reader until this year in college when he asked me to send him a Grisham book.

    • I guess some people have to learn to like to read, while others of us were born to it. I played like a wild child in the woods every day in the summer — swimming in the creek, swinging from vines, climbing trees, fishing, crawling through caves — but still found time to meet the library’s summer reading challenge.

      Glad that Tim’s dipping his toe into the fiction pool. I hope he likes it so much he plunges in headfirst. So many books . . .

  3. DIL has tried reading to the kid since he was tiny. First he wanted to eat the pages, then he refused to sit still. I have to admit, I had an easier time of it with his dad. At least Brandon would sit for brief periods of time. The grandkiddo is constantly on the move. The only time he stays in one place is when he’s in his car seat. Otherwise, he’s always on his way someplace else.

    Wish I had his energy!

  4. Marilyn:

    I’m not saying this is the case with your grandkiddo, but here’s what happened with my oldest son. Both my DH and I are hardcore readers. We have books EVERYWHERE in our house. We love to read. So we were really disappointed and bamboozled when our first born didn’t show any interest in reading. Even when he was still a baby and I would show him picture books, he’d get restless. It wasn’t until he started school that we discovered the reason…he’s Dyslexic. Needless to say, reading was and still is a challenge for him. I started by letting him select his reading material. He turned to comic books. I didn’t care as long as he read.

    The end result, he’s done fine as an adult, worked hard to compensate for his disability, is a responsible adult with a great job…who still loves comic books. 🙂

    LS

    • Poor kid!! At least you found out the reason and he’s adapted fine. Sounds like he’s the perfect candidate for audio books. Though I can’t blame him for loving those comic books! I’ve read more than a few required books in school that would have been waaay better as comic books than they were as novels. 😉

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