I was stunned to learn that my second daughter, and youngest child, not only didn’t love to read, she actually despised it. How could I have given birth to a child who didn’t devour books as I did? I did all I could to teach my children a love of reading. I read to them nightly, I myself was a constant reading example ... which, now that I think of it, might have been counterproductive when I sometimes barked when being interrupted in my reading. Hmmm ...
But I digress. In spite of my love of literature and trying to instill that in my kids, I managed to have one who didn’t share that love. My older daughter, Lindsay, loved books so much she actually slept with books in place of dolls or animals from infancy. She picked up and began reading The Grapes of Wrath when she was five. Of course, she didn’t understand the story so she eventually gave up, but she still gave it a try. And yet, my younger daughter Lexcie had nothing but disdain for reading. You couldn’t bribe the girl to read a book. Horrors!
Then a miracle happened. When she was thirteen, Twilight was the hot thing. Lindsay loved the books and somehow managed to convince Lexcie to read the first book—without my interference. I wisely stepped back and let her sister do the talking. Lexcie capitulated. She read the first three books in one weekend.
And a love of books was born.
Actually, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. A love of the Twilight series was born. It took both Lindsay and I to convince her there was an entire world of books available. She finally took the plunge and read another book. And then another. Now, she’s the one who barks when anyone interrupts her reading time. Twilight has been much maligned by critics, but I’ll be forever grateful to the vampire book that taught my daughter to love books as much as I do. And I’ll be forever grateful to my older daughter for doing what I couldn’t, and for me being smart enough to let her.
I learned a valuable lesson. Sometimes as moms we have to step back and let someone else accomplish something we can’t by pounding our fists on our chests and insisting we’re right. If you want your child’s love of reading and literature to flourish, there are some different things you can do:
Watching a movie they love based on a book? Buy them the book, but don’t pressure them to read it. You can encourage them to read it by asking them to read it and tell you about the differences between the book and movie.
Let them see you reading frequently. Show them that it’s an enjoyable pastime to you rather than harping on them to read. If they have to read a book for school, read the book yourself so you can discuss it with them.
Let them read what appeals to them, even if you might think it’s not exactly nourishing to their mind. As long it’s age-appropriate, who cares? If that’s what it takes to make your child understand how amazing reading is, how reading can transport them to other worlds, let them read. Loving reading is what’s important. It’s the first step.