A Father’s Lament
My daughter, now 12, grew up in a home infused with all things literate. I collect books. I have piles of books spread throughout my house, much like an alcoholic who hides bottles of vodka in the freezer’s bottom, behind the freezer-burned vanilla ice cream purchased last year.
I work in a middle-school library, for god’s sake. My daughter just started middle school. My wife is a teacher. How can she not love to read? My goodness.
I have a map of Middle Earth hanging on the living room wall. I collect Lord of the Rings action figures. (Don’t you dare call them dolls.) I had a ‘One Ring to Rule Them All’ key chain. (I lost it — That has to be a joke, but sadly it’s not.)
My point is, I’m a bit of a book nerd, and yet my kid doesn’t like to read. The irony is unbearable, and yet there it is.
So my kid doesn’t like to read. What’s the big deal? Accept it and move on, Right? Not everyone is cut out for school, and the world certainly needs craft workers, so who cares?
Why you should care:
The more you read, the better your read, and the better you read, the better you do in school and in life.
That’s it. That’s the reason to care, right there. Shout it from the mountain top, brother.
When I taught, I would tell every parent in every conference that one fact. I taught Geography and History and had all of my students do two book reports a year. (Most of the kids hated this and complained, by the way.)
Why fight the good fight?
The more you read, the better you read, and the better you read, the better you do in school and in life.
It’s about keeping your options open.
It’s accepted among people who research this sort of thing that when learning to read, it doesn’t seem to matter what you read so much as the fact that you are reading.
Can you guess what the most popular books in the library are? Week in and week out — what are the books that kids put on hold? What section of the library do they head for when they walk in the doors?
741.5. What is 741.5? It’s where we put Graphic novels, Anime and Manga. We have some truly outstanding Graphic novels. It’s impossible to keep Raina Telgemeier and Jen Holm on the shelf. I particularly like those two artists, as they help kids be better human beings.
Of course, Anime and Manga are read backwards, and I have to confess I’ve never mastered that art. I can tell you what’s popular: Bleach, Naruto and Dragon Ball Z.
Of course, there is more to reading than just reading to be better at reading. Right?
Books inspire, teach us empathy and help us be better human beings.
The Importance of Plot
I hate YouTube with the undying passion of a thousand suns. The last thing I want is for my daughter to be inspired by some morons who manage to hide in a toilet paper fort in Wal-Mart for 24 hours.
So the Kid and I talk about plot. If it has a plot, I’m okay with it. She has Disney Plus and Netflix at home, and we compromise. I get a weekly update from Netflix with all the shows she’s watched. I can see she is making good choices.
Would I rather have her read the Babysitter’s Club books than watch the Babysitter’s Club on Netflix? Yes, of course. However, both are better than watching parents prank their kids on YouTube.
Am I really an excellent role model?
I’m addicted to my online library and read constantly on my tablet. I love how easy it is to browse, how I can put books on hold, and how I never need to pay fines.
However, my kid doesn’t see me reading, she just sees the tablet in my hands.
Not good, right? In order for your child to love reading, they need to see you loving reading.
So, I go to my public library once every weekend and get a few books. Books that I store on the counter in the kitchen, and read when I’m eating or waiting or have a spare moment.
Let’s share ideas with each other. Talk to your friends, your neighbors and your fellow countrymen. Ask, what works for them?
For instance, have you tried Non-Fiction with your kids? Some, love it.
Let’s talk about the books we love and share them with one another. If kids hear and see us talking about books, they can’t help but be inspired. (My twelve-year-old, has owned 2 sets of golf clubs in her life. That’s because I love to golf. So she must own a boatload of books, right?)
I don’t know that I have ever read a book, thought she would love it, and went out and bought it for her. My bad.
Books are and have been a constant companion and an ongoing source of inspiration.
Books give options. They open our minds to possibilities.
Surely, we all want that for our kids.