Allowing Children to Choose What They Read
Michael Norris, an American publishing expert, will release findings in the monthly Book Publishing Report next month which show that, despite the best intentions, it is well-meaning mothers and fathers who often stop their sons and daughters from picking up the reading habit.
“Parents have too much of a role in deciding which books their child is going to read,” said Norris. “It is turning children off. They should let them choose.”
First, he argues, reading should never be described with “work words” which make it seem like a chore. Too many families, Norris suggests, have fallen into the trap of stereotyping reading as a “good” activity and digital or online game playing as “bad”. Instead, it is important to let reading become associated with pleasure and achievement, just as game playing is.
The second tip is to make sure children talk directly to a librarian or a bookseller, while parents stand well back. Looming over a child takes all the fun out of their discoveries, he says. Parents should allow children to choose their own reading material.
Norris’s third tip for parents is that they do not attempt to limit books to one age range. “What we have found is that parents should not worry whether a title looks too young or too old for a child. If a book has caught their attention, then let them take it and make up their own mind.”
It is also important, he added, for parents not to enthuse about books that they loved as children: “Parents often say, ‘When when I was your age…’, and it tends to put off children too.”He said that reading is a personal experience and should not be seen as part of a mass marketing operation.
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