Girls Write Out
Monday, November 03, 2008

Read to your kids! We'll make readers of them yet!


This is the mantra screamed to parents everywhere for the past 15 years. And so, reader that I am, I did just that. Did it do any good?


3 out of 3 of my boys DON'T like to read. Sigh. Break a mother's heart, why don't you.


No, they apparently got their father's genes (newspapers and magazines only, thank you), and regardless of what any "study" says, I believe this is an inborn trait: either you're a reader or you're not and no amount of forced reading is going to change that.


Which is why these school forced reading programs are driving me nuts. Our kids HAVE to read and pass tests on a certain amount of books every quarter and it counts as a grade on their report cards. We're talking eleven chapter books for a 10 year old, outside of school hours. Excuse me, since when has forcing a child to do something he hates succeeded in changing their minds about it? Didn't work with me and vegetables. I'm just saying.


Listen, my earliest memories are of sitting on the library floor surrounded by that yummy book smell listening to the crack of the plastic cover as I opened a book. But I contend, I was born that way, a reader, and nothing would've prevented me from being a total bookworm. So, please, schools, let's stop forcing extracurricular reading upon our kids. For my boys, it's done nothing but turn a pleasurable activing into a dreaded chore.
Denise Hunter  
posted at 8:26 AM  
  Comments (14)
 
 
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14 Comments:
At 9:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't give up hope - both of my boys HATED to read while they were in public schools. My older son graduated from public schools, but I pulled my younger son out and homeschooled him when he entered 5th grade.

Through homeschool, we introduced them to exploration of books, rather than just reading them - we would touch on a topic and check out all the books at the library on that topic to learn more about it. That sparked something in them, and now, years later, they are both avid readers!

My older son even told me this weekend that his house was starting to look like our old house - books stacked everywhere! :-)

 
At 12:15 PM, Blogger Julie Carobini said...

Two out my three kids really don't like to read, so I know your pain. What's helped me is to read some of the chapters aloud while they follow along. Some teachers may not like this, but it's helping their comprehension, so that's what's important to me. Of course, this takes A LOT more of my time, which is tough when I'm deadline. I wish that when kids do have long book assignments, they wouldn't get so much OTHER homework! Creates sooo much stress, you know?

Hang in there!!!

 
At 3:20 PM, Blogger Rachel Overton said...

My daughter loves to read, but her taste in books runs to those of quality (Dickens, Bronte, etc.). And current Christian fiction. Her English teacher this year has a list of books the kids must read and write critical analyses on--and they are not anything Caitlin would choose. All very dark. A lot of occult and horror, which the teacher is apparently fascinated with. I've protested, but this teacher is ensconced, and that's the way it is. Some of them are the older dark writers so not everything is quite so objectionable on content issues. But why does there have to be a such specific--yet limited--list? This is not the normal required reading list. It's bugging me to death!

And Cait can't even read the books she likes because she has so many of these analyses required, they keep her busy. So this teacher is turning a love of reading into a dread of it. Go figure.

I can't wait til this year is over--and yet when I say that, i wonder what's next. This is only 8th grade!

 
At 3:20 PM, Blogger Rachel Overton said...

My daughter loves to read, but her taste in books runs to those of quality (Dickens, Bronte, etc.). And current Christian fiction. Her English teacher this year has a list of books the kids must read and write critical analyses on--and they are not anything Caitlin would choose. All very dark. A lot of occult and horror, which the teacher is apparently fascinated with. I've protested, but this teacher is ensconced, and that's the way it is. Some of them are the older dark writers so not everything is quite so objectionable on content issues. But why does there have to be a such specific--yet limited--list? This is not the normal required reading list. It's bugging me to death!

And Cait can't even read the books she likes because she has so many of these analyses required, they keep her busy. So this teacher is turning a love of reading into a dread of it. Go figure.

I can't wait til this year is over--and yet when I say that, i wonder what's next. This is only 8th grade!

 
At 11:33 PM, Blogger Crystal M. said...

I am a bookworm... I could read non-stop. Of course, my family would starve and nothing would get picked up or cleaned up. My eldest son really hated to read for the longest time until I bought him the Phonics Comics. He's a typical boy - into comics, Star Wars, super heroes, etc. For some reason or another, these Phonics Comics turned his hate for reading around. Now, he is a picky reader. He won't read just anything, but now at least it's not torture trying to get him to do his reading for school. I've said all this to say, hang in there. Try all different genres... you never know what might just click.
~Crystal M.

 
At 12:16 AM, Blogger Amy said...

Quick Question...is reading easy for them?

 
At 7:33 AM, Blogger Andrea said...

Both of my boys are readers. I have read to them forever.

I hear you though on the some many points each quarter. Accelerated Reader books are what we have. That is one area I actually bucked the teacher and didn't care if they had a passing grade on the report card for that. Their tests were so limited so that limited what books they could read. Not many books aimed toward boys. I don't think that is fair!

My boys like to read and almost always have a book started (like their mom). They also had to do book reports. So why did we need added tests and have to get so many points? What does that prove? That they can take a test. The test was also dependent on many factors such as how fast they answered questions not only IF they comprehended what they read.

I could add much more on this but I must get going. I need to go vote before I go to work. I also hope this makes sense as I am in a hurry and no time to re-read! :( BUt had to comment on one of my hot buttons!

 
At 8:14 AM, Blogger Denise Hunter said...

Andrea, my kids use AR too.

Amy, to answer your question, one of my boys is an excellent reader, the other two are just ok readers.

 
At 10:49 AM, Blogger Deena said...

My 18 year old daughter wasn't a reader until a certain series caught her eye, and she discovered reading opens up new ideas and new worlds...now she has her OWN BLOG!

But I'm with you on the forced issue...same with "write 1,000 sentences on why you won't talk in class again" theory of punishment...writing is a JOY, not a chore!

What happened to cleaning the blackboards and taking out trash for discipline??? And one book a month is plenty for non-readers just to get them reading...be in a newspaper, comic book, manga, or whatever tickles their dream button---just keep it clean and ick free!

 
At 11:04 AM, Blogger Beawhiz said...

Neither of my brothers enjoyed reading until they hit middle school/high school. Now, you can't get them away from the books. Sometimes, it takes time! Don't give up hope yet.

As a teacher, I first ask what kinds of things a student enjoys, then I work to find books about that topic with them in order to stimulate their interest as much as possible.

I agree that required reading tests such as Accelerated Reader should not be part of their grade. The testing programs should be offered as an incentive to those who enjoy reading and want to challenge themselves. It actually helped stimulate interest in reading and books at the elementary school where I worked!

 
At 5:50 PM, Blogger Beth said...

I'm always reading, so is my brother and youngest sister. But my middle sister doesn't really like reading. She prefers outdoors-type activities. Plus she reads a lot slower than us other 3.
She does read some books, but not with the same voracity that I do.

 
At 6:20 PM, Blogger Kristin said...

I have two readers, and two non-readers. One (my ten year old) always has a book in his hand, and I catch him at night with a booklight. He even reads in the car. The other one likes war books/historicals/fact type fiction.

The other two fight me every step of the way.

And none of them can write. They all hate it!

Reading is important, but I do wish they'd pick better material for the kids in high school. Gag, I still can't stand Hemmingway or Steinbeck. Too depressing. And the Bell Jar? I had to read that as a sophomore. That book sucks. As a sensitive person, I didn't like reading all that muck.

When I got thrown out of advanced English (long, but fun story!), my teacher let me read every obscure Jane Austen novel and my love of reading came at that point.

But I've let the two of them read anything and they still hate it.

 
At 11:44 AM, Anonymous Elizabeth M Thompson said...

Reading is boring! Reading is dull and uninteresting. That's what my kids thought until they discovered that by reading they could learn about the things that interest them, WWII aircraft for example. They learned they could be transported to another place and time and take adventures they could take no other way.

Last year we invited a local author to speak to the students at our school (Lee Roddy--he writes adventure books that the boys especially love.)His visit really motivated the students to read.

 
At 9:22 AM, Blogger Andrea said...

Denise,
I worked in an elementary school for a while and am familiar with these programs. In the school where I worked, they pushed the program as a discipline really - something that needed to be done if a child is to be considered educated. The purpose wasn't necessarily to generate a love of reading (although a nice side benefit if it happened), it was to increase vocabulary and reading comprehension skills. It seems sacrilegious to me to equate reading assignments with math drills, but that's basically the concept, so maybe that helps explain the point of it all....

 

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Kristin Billerbeck
Kristin Billerbeck is a proud Californian, wife, mother of four, and connoisseur of the irrelevant. She writes Christian Chick Lit; where she finds need for most of the useless facts lulling about in her head.

www.KristinBillerbeck.com

Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble writes romantic suspense with a strong atmospheric element. A lovable animal of some kind--usually a dog--always populates her novels. She can be bribed with DeBrand mocha truffles.

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Denise Hunter

Denise Hunter writes women's fiction and love stories with a strong emotional element. Her husband says he provides her with all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too.

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Diann Hunt

Diann Hunt writes romantic comedy and humorous women's fiction. She has been happily married forever, loves her family, chocolate, her friends, chocolate, her dog, and well, chocolate.

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Hannah Alexander

Cheryl Hodde writes romantic medical suspense under the pen name of Hannah Alexander, using all the input she can get from her husband, Mel, for the medical expertise. For fun she hikes and reads. Out of guilt, she rescues discarded cats. She and Mel are presently taking orders from four pampered strays.

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