Should You Force Your Child to Read Over the Summer?
I was not always this Zen about reading, believe me. I'm a writer, and about the time my oldest was pawing his way through Pat the Bunny with disinterest, I was working on a historical novel. It was difficult for me to keep my hands off my son as far as reading was concerned. Writing was a big deal for me, so reading had to be a big deal for my child. I pushed and I pushed. But he pursed his lips every time I asked him to read. He was digging in. He'd rather build a bookmark with his Legos - which he would then either crush with a fist or turn into a pretend rifle - than ever use it to mark a page in a book.
I finally had to lay down my gauntlet: Kid, your mom is trying to be a novelist. It will really make me look bad if you are illiterate. I became anxious. All my mom friends were in a methodical and steady course towards their children's reading excellence. Their kids all had Leap Frogs and Vtechs and Hot Dots. I'm not a gadget person, so all my son had was a mom in a downward spiral of bribe overload, egg timer in hand, setting goals for numbers of pages read, minutes with a book open, number of stories finished. Blech. He read, but every page was a drag. It was a drag for both of us.
The clouds parted when I realized that I could 'pull' him into reading just like I pulled moms into buying Jif peanut butter - one of my first accounts - because what mom doesn't want to be "choosy"? On the reading front, I realized that I myself was the most influential maven of all, a choosy reader if you will. But I wasn't modeling my choosiness and reading where my kids would see it, and see me enjoy it. Ironically though, I was writing a lot, it was rare that I would just plop down onto the couch with a book, especially not with the kids around. If they were around, nothing about me was in 'plop down' mode.