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Thursday, December 15, 2011
I know it's hard for control-freaky parents to let go of the reins, even a little. And reading-level controlled teachers with nervous administrators and mandatory borrow-a-book programs might even break into a cold sweat at the thought. But when kids pick their own books, voila! They find stuff they like. And then, double voila! They want to keep reading.
It's shocking, I know but true, the books you loved when you were a kid might just not thrill your progeny. My kids can't stand any of the carefully curated collection I built for them from my own childhood faves.
And books that they should read, because they are worthy? Can you say 'kiss o' death?' No devoted reader was ever birthed from a forced encounter with The Stone Angel.
What if they choose books that are above their reading level? Won't that hurt their confidence? Perhaps, but that's just as it should be. Junior may learn that he doesn't exactly know everything yet, and the world doesn't shine out of his ass. The world will thank you for this. Besides, if the book is really interesting (and maybe even has dirty pictures), well, the motivation to improve one's reading skills is right there, and the means to develop them right at hand. Literacy 101 and Citizenship 101 at one easy go.
If you must must must feel compelled to choose books for your kids, at least pick books that kids are known to like. The good folks over at Sympatico have put together a short list of their top ten kid-tested and kid-worthy reads. I'm pleased to see my own Hilarious History of Hockey made this list (but of course it would- it has pucks made out of frozen cow poo in it, and you can't get more kid-friendly than that).
So buy em all, and leave all ten top titles scattered around for your kids to find. They'll be reading like fiends before you know it.