Sunday, July 24, 2016

The New York Times Jumps in on Getting Kids to Read

The New York Times has a good editorial here about the importance of getting your children to read during their summer vacation.  My only real criticism of it is that the author devotes much time to trying to figure out if it's okay to bribe children to read.  I wish she had thought to mention that what is really important is being willing to spend money to buy books that kids can love.  And the rules some parents had for their children made me uneasy, like requiring that all of the reading was in books that were on their grade level, and that they hadn't read before.

I devoted much of my 37 years of teaching high school English to helping my students become avid readers.  And I paid attention to the avid readers who walked into my classroom.  I found out this about them:  they almost always developed their love and habit of reading through series books, like the Harry Potter books, or the fantasy books by Rick Riordan, or the Big Nate graphic novels.   Their parents were willing and able to spend money for their books, since libraries rarely had all of the books in the particular series they loved.

Ms KJ Dell'antonia is right about the importance of reading.  My avid readers read better, wrote better, and did better in all of their classes.  

So do everything you can to help your children love reading.  Just don't expect that they will love the same books that you did.  I really believe that all reading is good, and that any kind of reading eventually leads to more reading.  My students who loved comic books and mysteries and fantasies and romances as children were the only ones who read well enough to love Shakespeare in high school. 

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