Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Rules for Nonreaders

This was originally posted in January 2009 on Ancora Imparo but I figured it fit better over here.

The previous library I worked in subscribed to the Horn Book. The Horn Book is a children's literature review magazine. It covers hundreds of children's books in each edition giving out stars to the best enjoyed titles. When we would weed out the collection I would go through each issue looking for books that looked interested or good articles. It was in the March/April 2001 issue that I found the "Rules for Raising a Nonreader" and I knew I had to pull out that list. My parents had raised me (and all my brothers and sisters) as readers and I'm happy to say they never did any of the things on this list.

I've been something of a nonreader recently in that I haven't been working on a book every night. I read every couple of days and for me that seems almost scandelous. But I have friends who don't have books in their house. (unfathomable for me) Whose kids never pick up a book for fun. Last year a U.S.A. Today poll found that one in four people had not read a single book in the previous year. I get testy if it's been more than five days since I last read for fun.

So without further ado, here is the way to make sure your child grows up as a non-reader. Remember people, that TV's not going to watch itself.

1. Never read where your children see you
2. Put a TV or a computer in every room. Don't neglect kitchen or bathrooms.
3. Correct your child every time he or she mispronounces a word.
4. Schedule activites every day after school so your child will never be bored.
5. Once your child can read independently, toss out the picture books. They're for babies.
6. Don't play board games together. Too dull.
7. Give little rewards for reading. Stickers and plastic toys are nice. Money is better.
8. Don't expect your child to enjoy reading. Kid's books are for teaching vocabulary, proper study skills, and good morals.
9. Buy only 40 watt bulbs for your lamps.
10. Under no circumstances read your child the same book over and over. He or she heard it once and should remember it.
11. Never allow your child to listen to books on tape; that's cheating.
12. Make sure your kids only read books that are "challenging". Easy books are a complete waste of time. That goes double for comic books and Mad magazine.
13. Absolutely, positively, no reading in bed.

Unlucky Arithmetic: Thirteen Ways to Raise a Nonreader. Dean Schneider and Robin Smith. The Horn Book, March/April 2001.

I can remember whole days spent lounging on some sofa reading. My parents encouraged us to read and read to us (normally the same books over and over) from the time we were very small. Mom would read picture books to us so many times we would easily have them memorized. Dad read the chapter books to us in the evenings. And once we were old enough to read for ourselves, we devoured every book we could get our hands on. I continue to read picture books (no they're not for babies) and young adult chapter books. I read fiction and nonfiction and almost any genre out there. I will pick up whatever book is handy if I'm waiting somewhere with nothing to do. Reading for me is like breathing. I can't go too long without it. I'm a librarian because I love to read. And I love to read because my parents raised us as readers. Thanks.

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