Monday, November 11, 2019

How To Grow Readers

Reading Rick's post this week about how few people are reading these days, I wanted to say that as a family we are doing our best to boost the numbers!  This shows my daughter, my son-in-law and two of my three grandchildren on holiday in France.  The reason the third grandchild wasn't in the picture would be because she was inside, reading.

We have a film clip of her as a five year-old: she was told to clear the table after lunch which she duly did, one item at a time, while reading the book she had in her other hand the whole time.

The reason they are such bookworms is the same as the reason my own children were, and I was - in self-defense. When Mummy and Daddy were reading you didn't get much attention so you had to entertain yourself on wet afternoons.  Nowadays the internet is the competition but for them time on line is very limited but books aren't.The result is, of course, that we all have a problem with books like some people have with mice.

Reading, of itself, is an educational advantage.  It's how you pick up spelling, grammar and punctuation as well as all kinds of useful information.  But what does concern me, a little, is what they're reading.

My grandson, aged eight, has developed a passion for Calvin and Hobbes.  Great!  I love them too, and there's plenty of other stuff he likes as well.  The ten-year old is into dragons, in a big way.  But the oldest grandchild is just entering her teens.

When I was her age there was no such thing as a teen novel.  Oh, there were series like Little Women and Anne of Avonlea and Pollyanna and Katy when the young heroine grew older and even had a very tasteful romance and got married, but apart from that, you had to move on to adult novels.  The books I read were by the Brontes, Jane Austen, Robert Louis Stevenson, Dickens, Thackeray, Tolstoy, even.  Later I discovered the great Americans like Salinger and Scott Fitzgerald.

But how many really challenging books did I pack in my bookbox for the recent holiday?  One or two good modern novels, an interesting biography - and 'easy-reads.'  They're so tempting, they sweep you along so you don't have to think; you enjoy it at the time by they don't leave you with anything to think about afterwards.

I did much of my serious reading between 11 and 18, but I know perfectly well that if there had been these wonderful 'teen reads' available I wouldn't have done it.  It's like eating candy; you lose the taste for chewing the tough crust of sourdough bread.  But it's much better for you.

I do hope that my smart-as-a-whip granddaughter gets dissatisfied with them and moves on. But it was a lot easier for me.

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