The Nitty-Gritty: When Kids Really Do Hate To Read

Boy & Girl Reading

Today I’m welcoming to the blog Carrie Kiene, who has written a guest post for us about how she handles children who are reluctant readers. Carrie, welcome to Pathologically Literate!

Our two youngest children are not readers. The war was waged several years ago and we have secured our border as best as we can. We will not surrender to an 8 year old boy and a 9 year old girl. They are literate. They can read. They have library cards. But sadly we have to force them to read. If left to govern themselves, deserted alone, they would light all books afire and dance a ritualistic dance, purging their lives of all literature. But for now, their dreams of a book-free paradise are squashed daily, with a 20 minute reminder when sent to read.

My husband and I have tried everything to entice them to read. We want the kids to list ‘reading’ as their hobby on new-student orientation work-sheets and boast to other adults about reading To Kill A Mockingbird and Uncle Tom’s Cabin. We single handily support Amazon with our book purchases. Just today, we received 2 books in the mail and another “series” comes tomorrow for our daughter. We read to them. Together, as a family we read. Snuggling on the couch, we are reading the Little House on the Prairie series. They listen and ask questions. The kids DO enjoy this time. You can actually see them listening, their fingers twitching when a texture is described and their mouths move when Laura tells of the crispy bacon Ma prepares on that Winter’s morning.

It is when they must read alone that the torture happens. Once the announcement is made that it is “time to read”, all eyes are on the clocks, a few pages turn…. ever so slowly as the lull in the air permeates our house, upsetting all. Silent prayers are said for time to pass quickly and without too much pain.

We will keep doing this, as the great improvements in reading abilities from the forced readings are undeniable. Both kids’ reading levels, especially my daughter’s, have skyrocketed. My daughter went from a 4th-grade reading level to a 10th-grade reading level in just one year’s time after we introduced this routine. Both kids appreciate books and handle them with care, never pressing on a stiff new seam and never, God forbid, writing on pages! They give respect where respect is due. However, it saddens me that a religion I am teaching them will one day be angrily dismissed and tossed aside, shunning their allegiance to books. I fear the day when they seek counsel to come to terms with the tortured times of their youth when forced to read as others freely played mindless video games. I hope they understand and one day they will reflect on what it felt like to read. And at this time,  they will value their literacy for what it is…their freedom.

Do you have trouble getting your kids to read? How have you handled that issue?


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