Bookstores, libraries and publishing companies have all unveiled their summer reading programs which have a singular objective; getting your child to read outside of the classroom. Sadly, there is one major impediment: parents.
A new study conducted by the Literacy Trust looked at the reading trends of children in 2014 and found nearly one in four students agreed with the statement: “My parents don’t care if I spend any time reading.”
One in six boys surveyed by the Trust have never been given a book as a present and one in five say they haven’t been taken to a bookstore. The numbers shrink a bit for girls.
The key to getting kids to read this summer, according to Kate DiCamillo is “letting kids choose their own books. Don’t hover. Don’t judge. Don’t say no if they want another “Big Nate” instead of “Charlotte’s Web.
Be the parent who says “this is totally yours,” DiCamillo says. “It’s treacherous waters where you’re forcing something onto them. It pushes them further away.”
Deborah Johnson is the buyer for the book section of Barston’s Child’s Play toy store said that parents need to relax this summer, too, just because a child in fourth or fifth grade might not jump into reading easily “doesn’t mean they won’t become a lifelong reader,” she says. “I think kids get messages that parents are worried about their reading. But we have to remember that everyone has their own taste and own pace.”
She also mentioned she doesn’t mean to lecture, but children have phones and other technology from a very young age. If they play a lot of “brain-numbing games, they are less likely to want to read a book. So perhaps we should consider getting our faces away from the phone, too. Remember that children are modeling our behavior.”
Luminary author James Patterson also wants your child to read and is doing his best to foster the love of the written word. In a recent television interview he said “a lot of parents know they are supposed to work with their kids on their soccer skills and teach them how to ride a bike. And that’s all good. But what I think people really have to get into their head is that it is our job as parents and grandparents—it’s not the schools job—it’s our job to get our kids reading so there need to be books in the house.”
James Patterson and I share the same fear that children these days are living their lives without books. It is the parents responsibility to foster a love of reading and to visit the library or take them to the bookstore. Remember, children without books translates to a world run by the shortsighted and the glib and the apathetic and the narrow-minded.
Michael Kozlowski has written about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. Newspapers and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times have picked up his articles. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.