Friday, January 27, 2012

Reading is Hard

I had a conversation with a friend of mine one morning. Her son was an excellent reader from early on and continues to read a lot and to enjoy what he reads. Her daughter is a different story. She finds reading difficult and does not get much enjoyment from it. The question my friend asked was which came first – the lack of enjoyment or the difficulty. In my experience, the two things come together.

If reading is difficult, and we are not talking about kids whose test scores are even necessarily low, they try fewer things to read. The things given in classes to read, despite the best efforts of the teachers, are generally not interesting to kids. Now the student has a double whammy – it’s hard and it’s not interesting. This quickly becomes a vicious circle. The student only reads what is required, which is not interesting, so they think reading is not interesting and not worth exploring outside school.

My son was in this camp until he found something, by accident, that he liked. Now he will read the topics he enjoys voraciously. He has become a better reader and it is no longer as difficult and he is more likely to try reading new things. 

The moral to the story seems to be keep trying. If it’s not interesting in the first 10 pages, don’t worry but don’t force it. Encourage your kids to read different things but don’t make it onerous. They will find something. Eventually. And it will open the door for them. That door is just more carefully hidden for some than for others.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Back to Youth

I was a voracious reader when I was a kid, literally hundreds of books a year. Now that I'm more mature it is interesting to go back and re-read what I thought was prime literature at the time, or even read a book I wanted to but didn't back then. Since they are written for kids they take hardly any time to read.

One of the latter category is Lloyd Alexander. Best known for his Prydain Chronicles series he also wrote a series of adventures featuring Vesper Holly as well as many others. I must admit to enjoying them. The Vesper series is humorous even today with its historical references to Victorian mores and custom but with a very modernist tilt.

To Kill a Mockingbird was my favorite book and, I am pleased to say, has passed the test of time. It is still my favorite. Another set that also passes the test of time is anything by Ruth Chew. I highly recommend them to any child who is interested in history and adventure.

One that I was not interested in as a youth and still have not plunged into but was incredibly popular is the V. C. Andrews series. I do have a friend who has recently re-read many and she says they still hold her interest even almost 30 years on.

Happy Reading!