On Sundays, I mentor a group of 7th grade boys at my church. One day we were discussing our favorite books. Several of the boys mentioned the “Hunger Games” series and the “Divergent” trilogy. When I asked the last boy at my table about his favorite book, he just shrugged his shoulders and said, “I don’t like to read.”
“Are you serious?” I asked. His words simply didn’t make sense to me. I’ve been an avid reader all my life. Reading was my escape and it opened up new worlds and ideas to me. I couldn’t understand why someone wouldn’t want to experience this joy?
“I’ve never liked books,” he said and buried his face on the table.
I don’t know why I was surprised by his response. I’ve mentored other boys and several of them say that they don’t like to read. I try to persuade them to give reading a try, but I’ve rarely made any converts. According to a 99-page study, “To Read or Not to Read: A Question of National Consquence,” released by the National Endowment for the Arts, an increasing number of adult Americans don’t even read one book a year.
I work hard to instill a love of reading on my boys (my daughter devours books and needs no prodding). Not only do I read to them, but I also encourage them to read on their own. We make frequent visits to the bookstore, library, book fairs, and the comic book store. The key getting them to read is to find books that they’ll enjoy.
My 8 year old son likes to read the popular series “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” and “Captain Underpants.” In addition, he likes books about science. He’s very interested in how things work and loves to discover new facts.
Although my 4 year old isn’t a fluent reader yet, he enjoys flipping through picture books and experiencing books on my iPad. We spend many hours scrolling through the digital books and reading along with the narrator.
I wish I could have done these things with the boy in my youth group, but it may be too late to turn him into a reader. It saddens me to know that there are many young men like him who have no desire to read.
I would like to encourage all parents to nurture a love of reading in your children especially your boys. A world of opportunity awaits those with strong literacy skills.
Question: How do you encourage your kids to read?