Encouraging Non-Readers: Booking Through Thursday

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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.”

Well, I don’t have kids and I’ve always been a reader, so I don’t have any practical advice to offer on this. I think every person is different though. I’m far too stubborn to respond to required book reports. In fact, I hated almost everything I had to read for school. And I think that offering rewards would make reading seem like a chore. Those types of things obviously work for some people though.

My husband wasn’t really a reader when we met. He’d read a few books by Robin Cook and enjoyed them, but he never made time for reading. I went out on a limb and bought him The Alienist by Caleb Carr. He loved it! He’s still not a voracious reader, but he always has one book on his nightstand that he’s working on. For him, it was just a matter of finding the kinds of books that he enjoyed.

So that’s what I’m getting at. I don’t know how you could get reluctant readers to pick up a book in the first place, but I think I would ask them to keep trying until you find the types of books they enjoy. I’ve become convinced that there has to be a genre out there for everyone. It’s just a matter of finding it.

What do you think?  You can share your answers here and at Booking Through Thursday.

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  1. You all had great answers!

    Hannah, my husband got tired of me always saying that the book was better after we saw a Harry Potter movie. He kept saying that he was going to read the next book, but he never did. I finally plunked books 6 and 7 down on his nightstand and told him to put his money where his mouth was. He actually read them, and after we saw the sixth movie, he came out saying, "This movie just wasn't as good as the others. Was there a new director or something?" I just laughed and told him he was disappointed because he'd read the book first and the movie just didn't live up to his expectations. He argued for a bit and finally just admitted that I was probably right. Don't you love those moments?

  2. My husband only ever read Michael Crichton's books until we watched the movie Eragon together. I had read the books Eragon and Eldest prior to watching the movie and I was very much NOT impressed by the movie. Joseph, on the other hand, loved the movie. I think my constant assertions that the movie was nothing like the book finally got to him. He started reading Eragon, then Eldest, and would you believe, he was the one who told me when Brisingr was released. LOL. He's even read Brisingr twice through while i've not even read it yet!

    I think the interest to read has to be there. Fantasy is close enough to sci-fi that one could argue it's the genre that got my husband reading, but I think it's more because he just wanted to prove me wrong. Hey! It's a start. 😀

  3. I think you are right. If you're not interested in the book or subject, you certainly aren't going to want to read it.

    I had to deal with this with my oldest child.
    Here's my response.

  4. My husband isn't a big reader either, try though I might to get him interested. He's actually reading a book now though, sort of, it's from the guys that do The Ghost Hunters television show. Other than non-fiction short stuff and the news, he's just not into books. Oh well!

    I posted a Valentines related question at The Crowded Leaf if you're interested in checking it out.

  5. I agree. I think forcing people to read is just asking for trouble.

    My husband's a lot like yours, only he really doesn't read many books. He's a big fan of dystopian literature (1984, Brave New World, etc.) and he hadn't read any of those books before we met. Now, I just have to find some more dystopian novels that he'd like so he'll read them! But, he does read a lot of stuff online — Good, solidly written articles, not the horrible stuff on social networking sites — so that's better than nothing.

    Here's my response:

  6. Book reports would have seemed like more schoolwork to me, and I think it would have made me resent the whole thing.
    I think getting involved with what children are reading, making it more of a shared activity would help.

  7. yup.There are umpteen books for every person now-a-days !

    Heres mine


    happy reading 🙂

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