Thursday, February 11, 2010

Booking Through Thursday - Encouragement

What a great question on encouraging non-readers at Booking Through Thursday.

How can you encourage a non-reading child to read? What about a teen-ager? Would you require books to be read in the hopes that they would enjoy them once they got into them, or offer incentives, or just suggest interesting books? If you do offer incentives and suggestions and that doesn’t work, would you then require a certain amount of reading? At what point do you just accept that your child is a non-reader?
In the book Gifted Hands by brilliant surgeon Ben Carson, one of the things that turned his life around was his mother’s requirement that he and his brother read books and write book reports for her. That approach worked with him, but I have been afraid to try it. My children don’t need to “turn their lives around,” but they would gain so much from reading and I think they would enjoy it so much if they would just stop telling themselves, “I just don’t like to read.”

Luckily both my children are "readers". Bubba, my 10 yo son just devours books. His favorite gift is a gift card to Barnes and Noble, in fact we are on a first name basis there. Boo-Boo, my kindergartener is learning to read so fast and just can't get enough of it. How did I accomplish this? I read the them in utero, as soon as they were born, and all the time after. They own hundreds of books and our home is full of them. They read for 30 minutes each night before going to sleep. I didn't really give them much of a chance!

My dear husband is the only non-reader in our home. He had reading difficulties in school and never developed a love of reading. I just could not accept that! How can you not love to read?? I became determined to "fix" him. I started out slowly, always making sure there was a Sunday newspaper around, them I started subscribing to Time, Sports Illustrated and People Magazine for him, hitting on all his interests. He read them all from cover to cover. I also read to him. Yes, you read that right, I read aloud to my wonderful, non-reader husband - every night before we went to sleep. We read all the John Grisham books and several Tom Clancy's (try reading those long military, spy tomes aloud! Whew!) This got him hooked on the stories and the authors. When the children came along, reading aloud just didn't fit into our schedule anymore, so I tried audiobooks. He would listen to them in the car until finally that was not enough and we picked up a new John Grisham BOOK at Costco and he read it cover to cover! I was so proud of him. He branched out into Jack Higgins and W.E.B. Griffin and a reader was born. This year, so far he has finished 4 books and has discovered 2 new authors - Tom Grace and Stephen Coonts. I know he will never be the avid reader the rest of us are, but I feel we have succeeded in conquering his fear and dislike of reading. It is a happy day, when you can look around our family room and the TV is off because all 4 of us are involved in our own book world. I truly believe it is never too late to encourage and develop a love of reading in someone.


  1. My husband is pretty much a non-reader as well. I have a bookcase full of novels I just know he would love, but he only reads news articles. Oh well!

    I posted a Valentines book-related question at The Crowded Leaf if you're interested!

  2. What a wonderful success story! Congrats on a job well done. Your husband is really lucky that you were so persistent.

    This was a fun topic. My thoughts are here.

  3. I can't refrain from trying to convert non-readers. They miss out on so much!