Oh the Irony!

Thursday, June 16, 2011 Aimee Larsen 18 Comments

I started reading a new book today called "Readicide: How Schools are Killing Reading" by Kelly Gallagher.  This book is required professional reading for my graduate class this summer since my graduate degree will be in Reading.  I love that Gallagher coined the term Readicide...
Read-i-cide n: The systematic killing of the love of reading, often exacerbated by the inane, mind-numbing practices found in schools.
As I was reading this book on my Kindle at the pool today, a young man (about 12 or 13) came up to me and asked me if it was a "Nook".  I told him it was a Kindle.  He asked me what a Kindle was. I explained that it was like a "Nook" but better. ; )  I showed him that it had 100's of books on it and that it was amazing because it was like carrying my whole library with me all the time.  The conversation quickly turned when I asked..."Do you like to read?"

Over and over, even with my own son, I hear from adolescence that they don't like reading, they hate it, they never want to read...unless, it's a good book.

Unless it's a good book. 

This was the exact response I received from him.  However, by the time we finished a conversation about books, reading and the endless possibilities; he not only wanted to give it a try but he thought it would be pretty cool on a Kindle.  The point being, any child can get excited about books.  Technology is simply another good way to put a book into a child's hand.  Then I started thinking...

What we doing to our kids?  How do kids not know what the good books are?  How do they not know that there are good books?  Where are we going wrong?  As passionate as I am about reading, my own son doesn't choose to pick up a book.  He has certain books that he loves but once he read them all, that was that.  Why isn't he reading?  It is my fault..it is the schools fault. 

Husband disagrees, he doesn't like to read and so he thinks that it is just fine for a person to not like to read.  That is, in my book, bologna.  He doesn't understand because he had never experienced the best read of his life...time and time again.  Life is to short for a bad book.  I believe if you are in the middle of a book, in the beginning or even the end, you should put it down and start another if it is a bad one.  I simply don't think that we should stop reading when we find a bad one. 

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If you put kids in a candy store and say..."Have at it.  Try them all."  You better believe they will eat candy until they are sick.  They will taste with delight or spit out the bad but no matter, they will move on to the next piece of candy.  Why?  Why don't they stop with the first bad piece they come too?  I don't have to answer it for you.   We all know why.  Why isn't this the same for reading?  The reason might be because of the different skill levels.   It might be because the child hasn't tasted success or joy with a book.  The reason might be because they've never witnessed someone enjoying a good book.  However, if we start viewing books as being like candy and library's the candy store, attitudes will change.

I love it when I hear my oldest son talking to his book; he might be cheering on the heroine or fussing at the bad guys or warning the beloved supporting character.    It thrills my heart to hear him express delight in the words on a page.  In the images his mind creates with the words he reads, wisdom is growing. 

So, what are we parents to do?  How about a trip to a used book store?  Or a relaxing stroll through a library?  Or maybe setting aside a time for reading during our busy summer days?  Oh, how about we read ourselves? 
What will you do this summer to encourage a reader in your house?


  1. Jennifer Talley LoftyThursday, June 16, 2011

    My children ages 13, 8, 6, and 4 all love to read.  I have read to them from birth and always try to model what a good reader is.  They currently have my Little Golden Book set of books that I loved as a child that I have passed through all four of them.  Schools are focused on Lexile levels and fluency as well as comprehension but first we have to show them how great books are and all the places you can visit by reading a book.  

    A huge con that I have noticed with students is that they are not reading on the independent level and the pick too hard of a book and therefore they get frustrated and want to quit.  I remind them of the five finger rule.  Pick a page in the book and as you find a word you can't read lift a finger.  If all five fingers are raised before the end of the page, the book is too hard.  Training a child to find an appropriate book is a good strategy to begin with.

  2. I see that my oldest daughter has gotten to a stopping point.  She still loves to read, but she is having trouble finding books that are appealing, so she is reading a little bit less.  I think it is the transition from picture books to novels.  With picture books, reading is like eating candy--they look good, so they are worth a try.  Novels have to be talked up a lot more, which means that the teacher or parent needs to know what they are about.  Keeping kids engaged as readers is not an easy task. 

    BTW--I got a totally child-free afternoon!  My friend (in the process of moving, no less) took them home with her and said "Let me bring them home around 7."  After a day to myself, I am much less stressed and definitely more patient.

  3. We make weekly trips to the libraries and sign up for any summer reading program we can find. Half Price books has a great one, that they essentially get to buy a book at the end.
    It took some doing to get my 9 year old into reading, basically just handing him one book after another until he liked one, then he was hooked. My other two have had no trouble getting into reading. They ask for books for gifts more often than not. It is great.
    I read a little too, much an neglect other things, but it for sure has had an influence on my kids. They see I love it and want to join in.

  4. Why is it you teach math?  For goodness sakes, you need to be teaching reading girl.

  5. I think that's where Cooper is at too.  We need to take a slow walk through the aisles at McKays.

  6. Before we went on vacation a couple weeks ago, we were a TV family. I hated it and I knew I was being lazy, but that's just how things seemed to work out. Then when we went on vacation, we packed out favorite books. My eldest is two so he has a TON he has a few he'll read over and over. Our little house had a TV, but we didn't turn it on. We would read when we were at the house. Our two year old would "read" to his brother and act out the stories. Now we are home, the TV isn't on very much anymore. We pick books and just enjoy them.
    I have always loved to read, but I think as we get older and go to school we are forced to read things that maybe don't interest us. It's like being in that candy store and being told you can only have lemon drops. Which is fine if you really like lemon drops, but everyone's tastes are different.

  7. One of ways I peak my girls' interests in a variety of books is doing quick little "advertisements." We'll sit down with a stack of books and I will talk about each one, pointing out a really neat illustration or reading the back excerpt. Sometimes I'll even read the first page or chapter, too.  Then, I just leave this books sitting out and the girls will choose the ones that interested them the most.

  8. I have to say that our kids seem to have inherited their parents' "avid reading" genes. Though we have read out loud to them since they were 6 months, it is more than that. They just love reading. My 7 year old brings home books ranging from spy kids to talking mice to Marie Curie. I am not sure what I would do if my kids turned up their noses at books.

  9. Maraike EppertFriday, June 17, 2011

    I can´t tell you how much I love this post!
    I have four children, I work in primary school, I ´m the reading lady in three communal libraries and I manage our school´s library. And my hobby is writing. SOmetimes I feel like literature and transporting the love to it is the whole purpose of my life, and I´m very satisfied with that.
    I´ve always read to my children.
    My sons are 4 years old, so they are just starting out, but my daughters (9 and 7) read everything that falls into their hands, books that I´d think might be far too boring for them, and I sometimes even turn off the power at night when it´s past 11 and I´d like them to sleep, because it´s school in the morning.
    Yes, I agree that children - and also lots of adults - need to experience the joy completely loosing oneself in a great story can bring. And reading to your child, with enthusiasm, is a huge part of this. For my kids, I felt like their reading skills just grew on the way - when I stop the book at an exciting chapter, and say I´ll read on tomorrow, they just need to know how it goes on.
    I´m excited to see how this will develop with my boys, who, even though they like to listen to their bedtime stories, never sit down during the day and are very... action loving. I refuse to say there´s a general difference between male and females, because I know at least some men who love to read - but in a different way, and different books.
    Maybe it needs bookloving men, dads, and teachers, to convert boys to become readers - and at least over here in Germany, teachers and librarians are 90% female.

  10. p.s.phyllis.sewsFriday, June 17, 2011

    I read with my only child, a daughter, until middle school. We read together the Chronicles of Narnia series because I had never read those as a child. Then we happened to get an older video series of some of the books and saw them around the same time. It was neat to discuss how they stayed true to the book or not. We are a family of readers but I think that's one thing I would do again and again if I had had more children.  

    We found great books together and later she would tell me about some of the "bad" books she was having to read for her assignments in middle school and high school. It was interesting to discuss why a book was "bad."

  11. Bravo, Aimee! We love reading in our house. Trips to the library are like rewards, or saved for a special day. We always throw a book into our picnic basket when we head out to the park. LOVE reading under the summer sky. We are reading all the books I'd loved as a child - those by English author Enid Blyton. I am so glad I hoarded them! I hear you about schools pushing reading. This year my kindergartener had to bring home a different book every Monday and Thursday. They were simple books, not engaging at all (save for a few) and we had to work hard to remind ourselves to read each book before it went back into the backpack to be returned to school. I always wondered, "who picked these titles? They could have done better." And yet, for the families that really have no access to a ready stream of books, these were probably perfect. And that made me glad the school did this at all. I've heard that the one common reading mistake parents make is to stop reading to their kids once those kids are able to read themselves. May we never do that! 

    My kindergartener just introduced Charlotte's Web as a reading book to us - I mean, we know the story and have read the book, but she hadn't, and neither had her sisters. She read it in reading time with her class, and loved it, and wanted Dad to read it to her sisters. I love that she can recommend books she loves to us!

  12. May I use your gum ball idea and tag?  I am thinking it would be a great  gift. Thank you    Patty


  13. heather stuartFriday, June 17, 2011

    I love this post!  If my kids didn't like to read, I am not sure what I would do!!!  I mean I only have one (of 3) old enough to read, but my girls already like to play read, so I think that is a good sign.  My hubby is not a big book reader and I've had times where I don't read either (due to my hectic life) but this year I made it a priority and I'm so glad I did!!!

  14. I have 3 boys and had the same problem until....... I introduced Calvin and Hobbes.  My oldest LOVED it.  Then he progressed onto other comic strip characters' books.  Then he moved onto regular books.  He's read all of the Percy Jackson series and is working his way through others.  His brothers have followed his example.  My youngest (6 years old) picked up a Star Wars novel this week and decided to read it.  I thought he would just skim it and give up but he is sounding words out and actually reading it!  To think it all began with a comic of a little boy who drives his mother insane..... somewhat appropriately ironic in my house! LOL!

  15. I LOVE to read - as does my 6yr old daughter.  She's a great reader too - and what I'm finding is that (unfortunately) a lot of the stuff at the reading level she's at is a little too mature in content (a lot of tween/boyfriend/girlfriend stuff, or too scary), so she's reading mostly below her level alone.  I try to find more challenging books for us to read together, so we can discuss them :)  My 3yr old son also loves reading - but for a lot shorter time, and only if it's about Thomas, or trains in general!  We sign up for the library's summer reading programme, and often buy used books there for a quarter (what a treat for us all!!).  Now I'm just (impatiently) waiting to get a Kindle for my birthday next month and I'll be reading even more - and my daughter's already asked if she can buy kids books for the kindle :)

  16. I always gave my kids money the first week out of school to buy summer reading books.  We had a large bookstore a few towns away we usually went to first that sold both used and new books that was a special trip.  This was not a bribe for good grades this was our summer tradition. 
    All my kids would read to me while I cooked or cleaned the kitchen.  My husband picked series of books that he read with the kids when I was out and about so there was always a few books going on around the house at the same time. 
    My girls come home from school on the holidays now and I always bring them into the library and they say going with me and picking out books is one of their best memories growing up. 

  17. When I was little the library had a summer reading program. Indian scouts, I think. Every time you read a book- and told the librarian what the book was about- you could pick out a new bead from the bead jar and they helped you to lace it on your leather string. Once you reached the goal ( I do not remember how many) you received a big bead to hang from it. Unfortunately the library only allowed 10 books on loan each week. And there should be no limit to the amount of beads you could earn. I learned to love the library.  With my own children I read to them every night. Period. I picked out the books from the Caldecott medal list, so the pictures were wonderful. As they became older the books did not have pictures. When my older son could read, he read to his brother. Kept us connected.

  18. I completely agree with you on this one, my kids love reading only because we make regular trips to the library and they are allowed to get as many books as they want, we usually come out with armloads, but they can't wait to get home and read! Letting them choose, instead of choosing for them is a good way inspire. Also, with my 11yr old I read a page then she reads a page out loud, this gets us both into the book and she asks questions if she doesn't understand a word. 


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