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Kids Aren’t Reading–And That’s Their Parents’ Fault

Children don’t be reading, and that’s their parent’s fault.

I’m always leery when I hear “a new study says,” but for what it’s worth a new study says that one in four students agree with the statement “My parents don’t care if I spend any time reading.”

According to Acculturated, one in six boys said they had never been given a book as a present and one in five said they had never been to a bookstore. That’s nuts!

Takeaway: Your kids won’t care about reading if you don’t teach them to care about reading.

Best-selling author James Patterson says, “What I think people really have to get into their head is that it is our job as parents and grandparents—it’s not the schools job—it’s our job to get our kids reading so there need to be books in the house,” Patterson said.

Let’s say your kids don’t want to read. Patterson says–and I agree with him–you make them read. It’s not an option.

At this point, neither one of my kids can read so we read to them, of course. Maybe not every day, but at least a few times a week. I’ve also noticed my one year old sitting down on the floor and mimicking reading a book. Who knows what he’s saying, but he at least gets the concept!

Both my wife and I are avid readers, so I don’t think this will be an issue for us. But I guess we won’t know until our kids get a little older.

I’ll just tell you that I’ll do everything in my power to make sure my kids are readers when they get older. And if that means making them sit down to read instead of plopping down in front of a Playstation, well so be it.

As Patterson says, “children without books translates to a world run by the shortsighted and the glib and the apathetic and the narrow-minded.”

More on this over at Acculturated. 

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49 Comments Post a comment
  1. My niece is 15 months old and her favourite toys always seem to be her books. When I talk to my sister on Skype, she potters off and will sit down to “read” a book to herself, sometimes coming over to show us a picture of a pig and make the oinking noises. It’s incredibly sad that so many children haven’t been to a bookshop or been given a book by the age of six. I’ve seen some great educational charities which have a book club for underprivileged and cared for children and send them books every month/quarter but I worry that in the current climate they won’t be very well funded.

    Liked by 2 people

    June 17, 2015
  2. That’s sad. We read to our daughter every night before bed. I take her to the library every Monday for preschool story hour and she sees me reading all the time.

    I’m not sure how you would force a child to read, and I’m not sure that would be the best strategy for a reluctant reader. but, I do think it is important to make reading seem fun and to expose your children to books in a fun way, at an early age.

    Liked by 3 people

    June 17, 2015
  3. I’ve heard experts say that the important thing is for kids to see their parents reading. I think your kids will be great readers. They have a couple of wonderful examples.

    Liked by 1 person

    June 17, 2015
  4. Hi Robert, Thanks for sharing. Shared on my FB page (http://www.facebook.com/litlust) as well. I also started a project on similar lines because we need to read more – https://lawandesalil.wordpress.com/portfolio/doodles-litlust-project/

    Like

    June 17, 2015
  5. Thumbup #

    Sad.

    Like

    June 17, 2015
  6. sometimes the kids don’t like to read as much as the parents or they may have a difficulty which most parents are not even aware of. My son loves to read but my daughter not so much, and recently I found out the reasons and if we don’t delve deep to ask we will never know. I care about reading but unfortunately not all of society cares as much. great to read you . 🙂

    Like

    June 17, 2015
  7. You left out the word “books” in your title – and premise. Consider the volume of all forms of reading – blogs, text, product descriptions, school work, ads – and you’ll soon realize the massive volume of words traveling to their brains everyday. Without any research, I’d bet today’s 16 year old reads and writes a bajillion more words than any Boomer ever did.

    Fear not my friend, the kids are alright.

    Liked by 1 person

    June 17, 2015
    • Laura #

      Reading a bajillion words doesn’t matter if nothing they read is meaningful, or even true. Ask high school seniors about political parties, current events or history and most of them stare with blank faces. Instagram and Facebook are not enough to educate them and make them critically thinking citizens. I spend my day with 17- and 18-year-olds and the majority are not remotely concerned with global issues, domestic issues or social movements. They want to watch TV, scan their FB and text friends. Forget literature: generally speaking, their comprehension is poor, they cannot challenge what they read, and they make no new meaning out of what they read. Our immigrant children tend to fair much better in the classroom because they are motivated by their parents. American born kids are no way as literate as they were just ten years ago, in my opinion. And the research supports this.

      Liked by 1 person

      June 18, 2015
  8. Alison's Wonderland Recipes #

    I’m so glad the family I nanny for encourages their kids to read. The toddler picks out three books to read before nap time every day, and the other day he picked up a DVD case and said, “Read book?”

    Liked by 1 person

    June 17, 2015
  9. This statement shocked me: “one in six boys said they had never been given a book as a present and one in five said they had never been to a bookstore.” I have two boys, five and three, and I read to them every single day. My five year old is a beginning reader and likes to read, but LOVES to have me read to him. My three year old also loves to look at books. Both boys have book nooks in their rooms. (My oldest’s is in his closet.) Screen time is limited at hour house, however. Plus, we live in an awesome neighborhood where kids play outside. Another rarity these days.

    Liked by 2 people

    June 17, 2015
  10. _G_K_A_ #

    Exactly. It is important for kids to understand how important it is to read.

    Like

    June 17, 2015
  11. Reblogged this on Sarah's Bookshelf and commented:
    This is such an important message. When I have kids, I’lll be reading Dickens to them before they are even born! It’s so sad that one in five children haven’t EVER been in a bookstore and this needs to change.

    Liked by 1 person

    June 17, 2015
  12. Reblogged this on mira prabhu and commented:
    As Patterson says, “children without books translates to a world run by the shortsighted and the glib and the apathetic and the narrow-minded.” Read on…

    Liked by 1 person

    June 17, 2015
  13. I feel like this conversation is a bit more difficult than saying parents need to read to their kids. For instance, in the U.S. there are a staggering number of adults who graduated high school and yet can’t read. So, if they’re having children but can’t read themselves, then what? I’m more for the idea that it’s important to show our communities, not just children, what reading can do and why it’s important. If anyone has a doubt about it, try reading a slave narrative. If you’re a babysitter, don’t just read, but talk about reading. If you have neighbor kids, give them books that maybe your kids are done with or too old for. My favorite is the Free Little Library in the U.S.–anyone else heard of it? http://littlefreelibrary.org/

    Liked by 1 person

    June 17, 2015
  14. Don Royster hits the nail on the head. Children may eventually find they prefer other leisure activities to reading; that’s their prerogative. But if we parents don’t read and let our children see us do it, we shouldn’t expect them to develop the habit.
    The statistics (if true) are indeed shocking but isn’t it too a terrible indictment against our schools! That said, education begins in the home.

    Liked by 1 person

    June 17, 2015
  15. I made a rule when my children asked to stay up later than 9pm. You can stay up an extra hour as long as you are reading. My 1 year old son is now the most well read child in his school and an A* student.

    Liked by 2 people

    June 17, 2015
  16. My mom read to me as a child and took me and my sister to the library regularly. She has always been a bookworm and passed her love of books on to us both. Now I have a 3-year-old and an 8-year-old and both of them read daily. While my husband and I can easily say no when our kids ask us for toys, it is difficult to turn them down when they ask for a book. They both have books in their bedrooms and read just about everyday. It is important that parents read in front of their kids and read to their kids. It is sad that some parents are denying their children the magic that is books. I don’t know what’s going on in the world, but I do know a lot of kids, especially boys, that don’t read.

    Like

    June 17, 2015
  17. This is why I always give books as gifts.

    What worse is that there are people who claim we should feel guilt by reading to children because we’re making them “privileged.”

    Liked by 3 people

    June 17, 2015
    • I know very few children, but if I’m giving a kid a present, 100% of the time it will include a book and some kind of old type of toy that I had as a kid- like a set of plastic farm animals or something. Gets them off the iPad for a while and they invariably love it!

      Liked by 3 people

      June 18, 2015
    • Ditto. I have 3 nieces, and I get great pleasure out of picking out books for them. Every present I’ve ever given them has been a book that I hope they will love as much as I did. It’s almost as much a gift to me as to them.

      Liked by 1 person

      June 19, 2015
  18. When I was about 13 my school participated on a study. I can’t remember it in detail, but I can’t forget my father laughing when he read one of the questions he had to answer: How many books one had at home. The numbers stopped with 200 and then the answer only said “more”. By that time I had more than 200 books in my room alone, my parents had far more.

    So for me it’s questionable if those studies are trustworthy. Should they be it, it’s really a sad thing.

    PS: I’m a bit jealous of your children – my father stopped reading to me 12 years ago. Now I read to my mother. ^^

    Liked by 1 person

    June 17, 2015
  19. It is sad, sure, but there is a lot more at play than simple statistics. If you delve deeper into those studies, you will find most of them have a common socio-economic denominator. It’s easy to decry never taking a child to a bookstore or library when you have access to one or can afford to buy a book. But many of those families without books are extreme low income families, and let’s face it–as important as literacy skills are–in the here and now, books are going to come pretty far down on the list of ‘needs’. Libraries are great, but not all communities have access to them, nor are all people going to have the time to take their children. So on the surface, if we ask the question do we need to get more kids reading? The answer is a resounding yes. But if you ask how, the answer becomes more layered and difficult to answer.

    Liked by 1 person

    June 17, 2015
  20. Reblogged this on Jin Okubo.

    Like

    June 17, 2015
  21. Mia #

    I completely agree. If you want your kids to do anything, you have to model the same behavior. My husband and I are avid readers too, and while he typically reads articles and non fiction, our kids have really picked up on our reading habits. Our oldest is just getting into sounding out words and spelling, so it’s really exciting knowing she’s on the brink of the awesome experience of reading.

    The study’s findings are utterly heartbreaking.

    Like

    June 17, 2015
  22. Debbie #

    Children are made readers in the laps of their parents;)

    Like

    June 17, 2015
  23. I agree wholeheartedly! This is all too true for children today. I have always been an avid reader, but I have noticed that my younger siblings are starting to be focused more on their phones than with books. I came back from college for the summer break, and I have taken my youngest sister to the library to buy her some books to read over the summer. It is so important to spark their interest in reading. This article was really important! Thanks for sharing.

    Like

    June 17, 2015
  24. I agree that parents have such a huge role in building the foundation to enjoy reading. I’m a grad student studying library science, so I’ve been reading a lot about reading. The statistics are overwhelming: Kids don’t read. Besides being exposed to books, kids needs to be exposed to a variety of books at a young age. I love reading, and as a former high school English teacher, I have seen kids who avoid reading because they’re not good at it, and it’s not enjoyable. I’m trying to make reading enjoyable for my kids now, but will they still find it enjoyable later? I sure hope so! I know it is difficult for parents to make the time to read to their kids everyday, but I think even spending a little time doing it each day can make a huge difference.

    Liked by 1 person

    June 17, 2015
  25. I decided i liked to read during class. The teacher forced the whole class to read out loud. I got into the story I was reading and kept reading since then. I used my paper route money to buy books. The kids in class always knew a big book order belonged to me. 🙂 So, making kids read can work. It worked for me. I was 11 or 12 at that moment in time.

    Liked by 1 person

    June 17, 2015
  26. thatgirlfreckles #

    Reblogged this on thatgirlfreckles.

    Like

    June 17, 2015
  27. Reading is so important. My parents encouraged us to read and my wife and I passed that on to our daughter. We be reading in our house.

    Liked by 1 person

    June 18, 2015
  28. I worry about this sort of thing too, but hopefully it won’t come to fruition. Encouraging children to read is so important and needs to be a thing for every parent to make sure happens, though I know it doesn’t always =(

    Like

    June 18, 2015
  29. I teach first grade, and if I could make ONE thing happen outside the walls of my classroom, it would be a reading habit at home. Reading to children, even up through the middle grades, is a HUGE boon to their overall education. Being read to, even in languages other than English, can help child’s English language development. And there is no way to “force” a child to like reading besides reading to and around them, consistently.

    There are definite socioeconomic factors that make this difficult, limited literacy and book availability among them. There are also GREAT programs that get books in the hands of children, and as teachers and librarians, it’s our job to get the information out there. Dolly Parton has the Imagination Library (http://usa.imaginationlibrary.com/) that puts books in hands of children. Reading is Fundamental is another organization that is worth supporting if children’s literacy is a cause close to your heart.

    Liked by 1 person

    June 18, 2015
  30. I think it has a lot to do with this child’s feelings and viewpoints. I have a 6 year old boy who has only been reading for a year, but he reads well, and enjoys it. I have a 11 year old boy who despises reading, he has struggled with it, and avoids it at all cost. I have read to them and with them both.

    Like

    June 18, 2015
  31. children should also be motivated

    Like

    June 18, 2015
  32. My husband and I (and our parents) are avid readers…but our son wouldn’t choose to pick up a book if he was looking for something to do. Our daughter is an avid reader, but our son just isn’t that into it. We make both of our kids read for one (uninterrupted) hour per day…and that’s all the reading our son does. Sigh. But he’s a teenager, so we’re hoping that as he gets older her starts to enjoy it more.

    Like

    June 18, 2015
  33. Reblogged this on oshriradhekrishnabole.

    Like

    June 19, 2015
  34. if parents are well aware of what’s to be knowledged then they would acknowledge the passion of being the book world, isn’t it?

    Like

    June 19, 2015
  35. Call me Cordelia #

    This saddens me, but as an educator, I am not surprised. Every generation has a group of students that didn’t learn, didn’t like, or was never given the opportunity to read (especially for fun). This breeds illiteracy, but not in any malicious sense. Yes, parents are responsible, but you cannot expect a non-reader adult, especially one with negative experiences with books and/or school, to encourage and push their children to read and frequent bookstores. Teachers and schools need to do a better job bridging this gap, especially by fostering positive relationships with students AND families! That is how family and community dynamics change. 🙂

    Like

    June 19, 2015
  36. Liê Cezar #

    Reblogged this on Manual dos Insolúveis.

    Like

    June 20, 2015
  37. emilyandrus #

    As a librarian, all I have to say is: AMEN, brother!

    Like

    June 23, 2015
  38. Although we live in a world dominated by visual entertainment, opinion as never varied when it comes to the fulfillment readers experience from a favorite work of fiction. This is where Literature has always derived its power. Personally, I’m in Poe’s camp when it comes to “the unity of effect” produced by shorter works that can be enjoyed in a single sitting. I predict that the novella will have a major resurgence…

    Like

    June 24, 2015
  39. These statistics are ridiculous, sad even!
    Having grown up in a family of readers, I could not imagine never having gone to a bookstore as a child, even if it was just to browse. I think parents are the ones responsible here. A child learns from mimicking their parents, and if their parents do not read, the likelihood of that child becoming a book lovers is slim.

    Like

    June 26, 2015
  40. Reblogged this on lifeoffay.

    Like

    July 4, 2015
  41. Eccentric Muse #

    Reblogged this on Call me Ms. Bibliophile and commented:
    James Patterson says, “What I think people really have to get into their head is that it is our job as parents and grandparents—it’s not the schools job—it’s our job to get our kids reading so there need to be books in the house,”

    Like

    September 12, 2016
  42. Sincerely speaking if you want to see a practical but scary example of a world of children without readers, come to Nigeria. It will so shock you with what they engage themselves with. I am not in a way portraying a bad light of them, for it saddens me that this would have been done if they had put reading above all others that Parents seem keen or wishes them to be keen on.

    Gladly I agree that after one year of this publication there is no better way of putting it that a World without Readers produces a World with Blind Leaders.

    Thank you for this article.

    Like

    September 12, 2016

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