Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Let Kids Read Whatever They Want (As Long As It's Written By Me)

I read a couple of interesting articles this morning.

The first comes from Publishers Weekly,by the ever wonderful Elizabeth Bluemle about how to convince people in as few words as possible to read certain books. Life As We Knew It took a few extra words.

The New York Times has an article about the importance of getting kids to read in the summertime, regardless of what they read. It seems it's a whole lot better for a kid to read a book about Hannah Montana than not to read anything at all, especially if what's read is the kid's choice.

This particularly resonates with me because when I was a kid, my mother did volunteer work on the bookmobile, and I remember her saying the exact same thing. If kids read what they want to read, they're going to be a lot more likely to keep reading than if they're made to read things that are of no interest to them.

I guess what I want to read now are articles about getting kids to want to read (although I admit to a particular fondness for articles about getting kids to want to read me)!

ETA: Speaking of articles about kids reading whatever they want, just as long as what they want to read is by me, here's an article about a summer/schoolyear reading program in New Bedford, MA, where the 9th graders read Life As We Knew It.


Lee said...

This article made me think a couple of things..I remember learning how to play drums as a kid, and I wanted to practice along to my rock records.

My drum teacher, who was into jazz, berated me for wasting my time with that crap and basically put me off playing drums for a whole year (I picked it up again, stopped taking lessons and just had fun).

So I agree that kids should read what they want to.

However, there is also this trend of kids reading - who don't normally read at all - just read Twilight and other current pulp.

These kids (and even adults I know) do not go on to read bigger and better things, and for them I think it's actually bad for them (a sweeping generalization, but it's all mine). Reading for them is a passing fad, only because everyone else is doing it, not because they LOVE reading.

There is a limit to everything - it's like saying, my kid only wants to eat popcorn, so I should let them. As long as they're eating!

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Lee-

I don't know if you read (or skimmed through, as I did) the comments to the New York Times article, but they pretty much fall into two categories- let kids read anything vs. what good does it do them to read "popcorn books."

I had a professor in college, on whom I had a huge crush (all the girls did). He was from the Netherlands, and he said what always impressed him about riding in the subway was seeing all the people reading. They might just be reading the Daily News, he said, but they were reading.

So I'm of the Let Them Read Popcorn! school.

Anonymous said...

I agree, as long as they are learning something. We don't need anymore college students still reading Dear Dumb Diaries, or A Mickey Mouse Special. It's not funny how may highschoolers still read those books about the religious cats (Well, maybe it is funny, but more scary than anything else!).

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Anonymous-

You have a point, but if you're reqired in school to read textbooks and non-fiction books and classics of literature, sometimes if you're reading just for fun, you don't want to read anything too serious.

I know I didn't!

Term papers said...

Getting kids to read can be a daunting tasks for most adults. However with books launched in recent years such as the Harry Potter series reading is back in vogue for kids.

Further to above an oft ignored fact by grown-ups is that kids nowadays read a lot on the internet, therefore ascertaining their reading habits by the number of books they pick up can be an incorrect assessment.

Thank you for a great post.