I’d like to take a moment to discuss an issue that is pertinent to every parent out there. Children and books. There. I said it. I know. We try to avoid such topics, but the fact of the matter is that every child is born with an inherent love of stories and books. Without proper intervention, you may find yourself in the position of a parent who has a child who…..reads. Yes. The big elephant in the room is out there for all to see. However, I’m here to tell you that there are ways to put a stop to this habit before it really takes a hold. Here are a few suggestions to save your child from a life time of reading:
You may decide to go with the method that “gets it out of their system.” If this is your preferred strategy, force your child to read in a controlled setting. If they are going to be reading, make certain they are reading on your terms. Take away their choices.
Make them read what you choose. Sure, they are going to hear about books from someone, but if you can make it seem like books aren’t enjoyable, you lessen the likelihood that they will become readers. As part of this method, you may find it beneficial to pick out the most boring books you can find. If your child begs and pleads not to read them because because he “doesn’t like those books,” stick with them. If there happens to be someone nearby (such as…..another mother) who is in the vicinity when you force your child to read the really boring book, it’s okay. Any adult should be willing to make the sacrifice to listen to a horribly written book read haltingly by a child in tears. After all, we’re here for the kids. This public display will also help re-enforce the lesson to any other children in the area that reading should, under no circumstances, be enjoyed.
Negative re-enforcement. When you catch your child in the act of reading, do something negative. You want them to associate the very act of reading with an unpleasant experience. Tell them they aren’t doing it correctly. Ridicule them. Yell. Make other loud sounds such as monster noises or sound like an alien laser. Whatever you do, do not let them enjoy the experience.
Time limits. Whether you are trying to gently wean your child off of this habit by placing arbitrarily short maximum time limits on enjoyable reading sources or placing large time limit minimums on the boring pieces (see above reference), you should control the amount of time your child is exposed to such potentially harmful substances.
When it comes down to it, you need to do what you have to in order to prevent this habit from escalating. Threaten to take away something your child loves if she doesn’t follow your strict guidelines. Already at gymnastics but she isn’t reading your prescribed reading material? Threaten to take away her gymnastics class. Sure, you’ve paid for the gas to get there. You will be paying for the class whether she participates or not. Gymnastics has nothing to do with reading, but it strikes deep. It shows your child that you are serious about not letting her waste her life away in a book.
Let’s not kid ourselves. Board books lead to picture books, which lead to chapter books. If you don’t do something about your child’s love of books right away, you may be facing a child who is carrying around a 3 inch thick book, laughing and giggling, and enjoying herself to no end. Books are dangerous. They lead to information, independent thinking, creativity, and even worse….knowledge and wisdom.
With all of the great reading genres available, it’s easy to skip over some of them. Check out these great topical reading challenges for 2012. Perhaps you’ll join me for some.
When Melissa at Melissa’s Eclectic Bookshelf didn’t see any witchy reading challenges for 2012, she decided to make her own. The 2012 Witches and Witchcraft Reading challenge is for all books witchy, whether fiction or non-fiction. Anyone can read just one book, and all particpants will be entered to win a $10 gift certificate to The Book Depository! I’m starting with one and will see if I don’t bump up a level.
Do you like mystery and suspense? Join in Book City Chick’s 2012 Mystery and Suspense Reading Challenge. There are so many sub-genres in the larger mystery category that I don’t think I will have any difficulty reading 12 novels for this challenge.
Do you have any earth based leanings or just want to learn more about earth-centered celebrations or history? Check out the 2012 Pagan Reading Challenge hosted by The Domestic Pagan. Just by celebrating the scientifically-based changes in our world during the year, our family reads several pagan books every year. You don’t have to be pagan to read pagan books or appreciate a large part of our history.
Looking toward the future, you could join The Dystopia 2012 Challenge at Bookish Ardour. Admittedly, this hasn’t been my favorite genre, but I was pleasantly surpirsed by some of the dystopian novels I read last year, stretching myself just a bit.
I wasn’t going to sign up for The Story Siren’s 2011 Debut Author Challenge. Granted, it sounded like fun and would easily fit with some of the other reading challenges we are doing. However, we constantly have a list of books waiting to be read, and my children already have quite a list for us to read. Then, merely perusing the list of young adult authors debuting this year, my daughter and I spied her first name among the list.
Our children have traditional Irish names, and my daughter’s name is rarely heard in the States. The only person we have ever met who shared her name was another little girl visiting from Ireland and who used the alternative pronunciation. Needless to say, she was a bit excited. Hence, we are now signed up. We’ll see if we can fit in this many new authors along with the que of young adult literature my children already have.
And in my newly found attempts to relax and take care of myself better, I will be adding yet one more challenge to my life. Oxymoronic, no? A little fluff adult reading might be just what I need. My reading tends to lean towards children’s books with the kids, parenting books, reference books, and scientific literature. The Chick Lit Challenge sponsored by Debi at Journey to the End of the TBR (to be read) Pile should be fun. I can manage to squeeze in some fluff.
For 7 1/2 years, I was exclusively in charge of bedtime. Bedtime at our house is a relative term. It describes the time we go to bed, rather than describing a certain time of the day. There is no set bedtime at our house. When little people start to get tired, we start getting ready for bed. We generally brush teeth, get the last drinks for the day, nurse, snuggle, and read chapter books. For the past 7 1/2 years, I’ve been the one to help get the last drinks, help with any toothbrushing, nurse and snuggle, and read the books.
I can’t say that I’ve really ever resented the fact that my husband hasn’t been involved with bedtime. I’m certain there was a time or two when I was drained and wished he would take over. However, I honestly just accepted it. My husband doesn’t nurse the kids, and his needs haven’t seemed in line with ours. While he likes to relax while watching the television, the kids and I need quiet and prefer to enjoy a good book. Bedtime by myself was easier.
In the past month, something changed. My husband suggested changing something about bedtime, and I think I went off on him. I told him he couldn’t have any say in our bedtime routine because he wasn’t involved with it. I pointed out that in 7 1/2 years, he had never been in charge of helping the kids at bedtime and if he wanted to watch television, he was welcome to go downstairs and stay out of bedtime.
That night, he picked up a book and began reading at bedtime. He has read every night since then. Sometimes we trade off after chapters. It’s nice to have a partner at bedtime while the kids are still young. The kids get to listen to another voice reading besides my own. They get to see their loving, involved father at bedtime. When my hands are full nursing a baby and toddler, we still get to listen to someone reading. Best of all, my husband seems more peaceful at bedtime now. He has gone from groaning at hearing us read at bedtime, to looking forward to reading for an hour or more with us each evening. Where I think he used to feel left out of part of our lives, he is now joining in.