Suggested by Barbara H:
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?
In the book Gifted Hands by brilliant surgeon Ben Carson, one of the things that turned his life around was his mother’s requirement that he and his brother read books and write book reports for her. That approach worked with him, but I have been afraid to try it. My children don’t need to “turn their lives around,” but they would gain so much from reading and I think they would enjoy it so much if they would just stop telling themselves, “I just don’t like to read.”
I think that a love of reading is something that should be encouraged early and often in life. I think if you plant the seeds that reading is fun early in life, it will bloom later in life. That said, I think the best way to encourage a non-reader to read is to find things they will want to read and not discouraging them from reading them because they aren’t “great literature.”
I was recently listening to a radio program on the “Doctor Who” tie-in novels published by Target. For those of you who may not know, the novels were adaptations of the “Doctor Who” serials published in the 1970s and 80’s when the television show wasn’t repeated often and there wasn’t VHS or DVD to watch them over and over again. At one point, the commentator brings up the point that the books would get boys reading something because of their interest in “Doctor Who” and that, at times, educators weren’t happy about it because “it was only ‘Doctor Who.'”
I feel like this can happen a lot with the choices that boys and teenage boys can make in their reading material. We’re often drawn to graphic novels, comic books, sci-fi and fantasy, tie-in novels, etc. and sometimes when we read them, there’s a bias by teacher, parents, etc against them. Also, I really think we need a revolution in publishing as well to target young boys. I wandered by the young adult section of the bookstore and if you just look at the covers, you can tell that a majority of the books are marketed toward young women. Which is fine, but we need to have some good alternatives to encourage the young guys to want to pick up the book as well. And despite the old adage, many times books are judged by their covers.