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Feb 16

How to raise your child to love reading

You can’t.

There.  I’ve said it.  Parenting is sometimes the ultimate manifestation of “You get what you get, and you don’t get upset.”  I love my kids – and that means I love all of them, even the parts of them that I sort of sometimes wish might be a little different.

I love to read.  And perhaps, I love to read more than anyone I know.  Maybe my standards for loving to read are rather high.  I’m never not in the middle of a book.  Or four.  I’m at the library at least twice a week, and I literally start to stress out when I’m running low on new books.

I just assumed that my kids would also love to read.  I read all the tips on how to get your child to love to read, and diligently followed all of the rules.  Our house is FILLED with books.  Overflowing with them.  I always have one with me, my husband reads (perhaps not as voraciously, but he’s still a reader).  I read to my kids every night, filled their little lives with literature.  It’s too early to tell with the little two, how much they’ll enjoy reading on their own.  They like to be read to, but as far as I can tell, every kid loves to be read to.   My oldest adores being read to as well, but as far as picking up a book and reading it independently?  She’s not that interested….

My nine year old will read, but only after much coaxing.  Once she gets into a book, she’ll read it happily enough, but it’s never her go to activity.   It was so frustrating to me – why doesn’t she love to read?  Why?  I did everything right.  And still – somehow she insists on forming her own opinion :-).  Because in the end, you get what you get.  Some people love to read, some don’t.

I think reading is like any other talent.  Like playing piano, or playing football.  You can do the classes, expose them to it, but in the end, I think reading, really loving to read and doing it well, is an innate talent.  Some kids are going to be concert pianists and exceptional atheletes.  Some kids aren’t going to do much more than practice when you make them, and forget it as soon as they can.  You either are a reader, or you aren’t.  I started reading, and it was like coming home for me.  It was, and is, my default activity.  I’d rather read than watch television, rather read than clean.  I’d rather read than just about any other leisure activity.  My daughter can read, knows that there are wonderful stories out there, but it’s not her thing.  She can read, she will read, she doesn’t live to read.  Not the way that I do.  And that’s hard for me sometimes. 

I felt, for a long time, like somehow I had done something wrong (I generally like to blame myself for any sort of parenting issue).  Hadn’t I done everything right?  Why wasn’t she picking up the books and reading?   Eventually, I can to the realization that it’s perfectly okay that she doesn’t love to read.  She loves a good story, loves to learn, has a serious need for drama and pathos in her life, but she doesn’t love to read.  And you know what – I wouldn’t change it.  Because truly – as a parent – you get what you get, and you don’t get upset.  In this aspect, she’s not what I expected, I thought of course, my child will adore reading – but she doesn’t.  And I find that, once I got past that initial dismay, I don’t mind at all.  She’s simply who she is – and I can’t begin to express how fabulous and fantastic that is. 

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