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.

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