As an English teacher, it’s been paramount that I instill a love of reading into my children. My three-year-old daughter will still sit on my lap and read almost anything with me, only getting up for a snack. My son used to love reading even more than his little sister, but he's five now, and I’m afraid he’s already losing interest. It’s no surprise either. Boys are less apt to develop a love of reading and statistically score lower on reading tests.
I don’t blame my son for not wanting to sit still any longer than he's already required to. He spends eight hours a day being schooled. This is a lot for his brain. When he gets home, his body wants to play, and play hard. Sitting with his mother on the couch to read some books is not appealing. However it’s on my husband and me to help our son find that love of reading once again. We may just have to work a little harder.
In an article in The New York Times by young adult fiction author Robert Lipsyte, he discusses the problem of why boys read less than girls beginning in grade school lasting through young adulthood. He mentions the helpful website, guysread.com, and quotes the author Jon Scieszka when he says, “Boys don’t have enough positive male role models for literacy. Because the majority of adults involved in kids’ reading are women, boys might not see reading as a masculine activity.”
Since my son’s interest in reading has plummeted, my husband has been more cognizant of this fact. In return, my husband has been more purposeful in trying to set aside time in the evening to read with our son and have our son read early-reader books to him. It’s also been vital that my husband reads his own books in front of our son too, showing him that he reads for pleasure. Masculine men who play sports can also enjoy the act of reading.
What I'm looking for now are what kind of books can rekindle that love again.
Lately, my five-year-old has gotten into playing with Star Wars, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Legos, so I tried to find books about what I knew he already liked. Luckily, these characters often take the form of early-reader books. This way, he can enjoy the characters he loves and work on his reading at the same time. We usually head to the library to pick them out and, if it’s in the budget, we let him pick out one or two books per month from Scholastic, too.
For Christmas, he received six books from the Magic Treehouse series. These books have reignited his passion for books. The main characters, Annie and Jack, go on adventures in their magic treehouse to ancient kingdoms, a land of dinosaurs, and beaches with pirates. The series are chapter books with very little pictures, which helps my son work his imagination by picturing Annie and Jack in the scenes of these mysterious places. I love seeing the suspense in his eyes, it's the joy from reading brought back.
I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter what our kids read, what matters is that they love reading. Their passion for books will get squashed at some point while they’re in school. It happens. So it’s on us as parents to encourage their love of books outside of school.
Life is busy, but the more our kids can take ownership in their reading, the better. As our kids get older, we may not like the things they're into, but it’s part of the game. Let them read whatever they want now because as they get older, their teachers will be the ones picking out their books for reading assignments.
Do everything you can to foster their love of reading because it’s a skill that will take them further than anything else in life.