After reading a wonderful article by Maureen Langloss titled ‘In praise of naughty books’, I was inspired to write about my own experience of children, literature, and inspiring the love of books.
I spend (some of) my weekends working in my local library. This job allows me to immerse myself in books, one of the long-wished-for dreams I have had since growing up as one of the biggest bookworms around. I grew up in libraries. I learned more about life from books than I did from actually living or from talking to the people around me (I have always been very shy).I learned more about life from books than I did from talking to the people around me. Click To Tweet
While I love the fact that I get to spend time amongst the books as I work, one of the things that tends to get on my nerves when I am shelving in the kids section of the library (more than babies ‘shelving’ books for me in completely the wrong spot and having to re-shelve items that have been left on the floor or in other odd spots!) is the frequency of times I hear parents admonishing their children for their book choices.
I am not a parent, so this should in no way be seen as me giving parenting advice. But from all that is said about ‘children these days’ not reading books, doing less well in school, falling through the cracks and not learning to read, perhaps there is something in Langloss’ statement,
When children are small and learning to read, the goal should be to ignite a love affair with books. Really set it ablaze.
If your youngster is excited about reading books you as a parent consider trashy, worthless, disgusting and doing more damage than good to your child’s socio-cultural education, don’t stamp out the flame.
The most common books I see boys reaching for are Geronimo Stilton, Captain Underpants, Marvel superhero comics, Ben 10, Beast Quest and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. For girls, it is Mead’s Rainbow Magic series, as well as stories about ponies, puppies, kittens, fairies, and other topics my feminist, anti-gender-marketing self cringes about.
I regularly hear parents admonish their children when they run up to them with their book of choice because it is a ‘baby’ book. Or, they’ll say, ‘You should be reading at a higher level by now! Here, what about this one?’ Which, of course, results in sulking, shaking of heads, and, in some cases, families leaving without any books at all.
Yes, encouraging your children to expand their reading horizons and challenge themselves is important. I admit that I too find the books children seem to love the most just plain awful … But the most important thing is that children continue to read, and to read for pleasure. It needs to be fun. If we force them to move up to the next level of books, it is likely to seem more like a chore, more like school, and they may be discouraged from reading at all.Reading for children needs to be fun. If it feels like a chore, they may be discouraged from reading at all. Click To Tweet
For this reason, I believe it’s vital that we encourage children’s reading habits, even if the material isn’t what you think is ideal.
That being said, there are some books I wouldn’t feel comfortable hearing you encouraging your children to read. Find out what they are by reading this blog post.