Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Advice to Kids & Parents About Household Adolescent Harmony and Reading

Hey kids,

Parents on your back? Won't leave you alone? Constantly harassing you about the state of your room, the amount of time you spend on your phone, on your laptop, your Playstation? Does it feel like they are constantly bugging you about something you are doing wrong?

Have I got a solution for you! By doing a few simple things each day, you can keep your parents happy.  So much so that they might actually leave you alone. They might look the other way when you stare at your phone and play Flappy Birds like a zombie for fifteen minutes. They might not throw a fit, if you want to spend some time alone in your room playing music and chatting with friends.

What is this miracle solution? You ask. What can possible placate parents so much that they smile every time they see you instead of scowling? Are you ready?


That's right. Voluntarily read books. Read lots of them and read them often. Talk about them with your parents. Discuss the themes and plots and characters. It doesn't matter the book as long as you share why it excites you. Ask to go to the library or the bookstore. Tell them that you are researching authors and recently learned that (insert author name) also wrote (title) and you would love to read that too.

What's that? You have too much homework to read?  Yes, I hear you. That is a shame. But just twenty a minutes a day and consistently making your way through one book after another will be fine.  Just let your parents see that you are reading and actually enjoying it. Trust me, as parent, I cannot describe the warm feeling I experience every time my daughter chooses to read a book over any other activity. Raising a reader makes us feel like we are doing this parenting thing right.

And most kids love to read till they hit middle school, when other things take over, but your parents need reminders that they raised a reader and the best way to show them and get them off your back is to......Read.

You will be surprised by how excited they get by kids who love books. They are constantly asking me,  "How do I get my kid to read?" So trust me, once they see you doing it with excitement and vigor, they will be shocked and pleased to the point of leaving you alone.

 image by Enokson

Hey parents, can I talk to you over here for a second? If you are reading this, I have a two-for-one special to offer. As an added bonus, I will tell you how you can get your kids to read. All you have to do is.....yup, you guessed it-- Read. Model what you value. Read to, with and around your kids. Find a book you can read together and share ideas, talk about the plot, the themes and connections to your lives.  Nothing gets kids reading like a culture of reading at home. And don't force them to read what you love and think is good for them.  Read what they love. Trust me, forcing your kid to read Eat Love Pray will not get them reading, but maybe reading the latest dystopian series or a bio about a footballer, might do the trick.

So there you have kids and parents. The simple act of reading will bring about an unprecedented peace to your household as you make your way through the turbulent adolescent years.

Wait? What's that you say? You do read voraciously, but your parents want you to read "real" books.

"Stop reading those series! That trash you read does not count! Read Pride and Prejudice, I loved it and it will prepare you for IGCSEs!" 

Sound familiar? Let's start with parents here. Mom, Dad, if your kid is an avid reader, please do not squash their love of literature, by forcing them to read books that may not be developmentally appropriate and, lets face it,  pretty boring. They have their whole lives to read the classics and many of them will, once they have the appropriate skills and are ready for both the stye and content of those books. For now, give your kids a break. Let them read what they love and as mentioned above read with them.

Kids, throw your parents a bone. If you are an avid reader, negotiate a book that might be out of your comfort zone. Read outside your genre. You might learn more about female empowerment and Katnis if you read Jane Erye instead of the Hunger Games for the fifth time.

Hope that helps everyone. Would love to hear your thoughts. Have you tried this at your house? Does it work? What obstacle do you foresee? Parents any ideas to add? Will watching your kid read and excitedly talk about books not make you super happy? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


  1. Thanks for all the pointers. Definitely sounds like we have a third case scenario going!! Alexander is an avid reader, espcially dystopian series...just not reading Jane Eyre yet!

    1. Be patient Jennifer. There is time for the classics. First we have to build a love and a skill set that teachers kids how to read deeply and critically. Then we need to wait till they are even emotional ready to access the material. We have to remember that not all kids are ready to access adult books till they have development their skills.

      Learning to read critically, regardless of the content, should be the goal. So read what he reads and talk to him about. He will get to the other stuff soon enough.

      ps I did not read Jane Erye until university.

    2. Mom, you should be happy that I am vividly reading dystopian series. Like Mr. Raisdana said there will be time for the classics when I am older and then I will enjoy them more but thanks for enquiring.

  2. Thanks for this Jabiz. I think we are on the 7th reading of Hunger Games! But couldn't agree more that I am completely unable to be grumpy with my kids when I see them with a book in their hands. So true.

  3. Inspirational thank you Jabiz. My dad was an avid reader and introduced me to his books, in those days Travis Mc Gee and Wilbur Smith were the big reads, (after reading Enid Blyton and Nancy Drew of course!) I grew up reading and when my boys were born I started reading story books to them as tiny tykes. When they were 2 years old I began reading "with" them, by buying childrens' picture encyclopaedias. We would look at the pictures, I would read the caption/info and we would talk about it - John got really excited with these factual books, they made him very curious about a wide range of things - from how we see to what happened to the Romans. From there he would come with me to the book shop, hop over to the "top reads" for kids his age, and he would choose a book to read - it became his most enjoyable trip - the bookshop. He eventually progressed to Rick Riordan series, Philip Pulman, John Flanagan series, Scott Westerfield, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and many more. Finally he picked up on his dad's books with David Gemmell, Con Igguldon, Bernard Cornwell amongst others, and has recently discovered my favourite - the Wilbur Smith series, and is now reading "Birds of Prey". Seeing the enthusiasm is continued in the English classes at UWC is great, thank you.

  4. I like it!!!! what's your view on kindle or ebooks in general? My wife and I read almost everything on our kindles now. I also see that Amazon has a service called Overdrive which is a digital lending library for schools and towns. Should i be encouraging them to read on the physical versions or is digital ok?

    1. Sorry for the delay Newton! My gut reaction is that if a kid is reading on a stone slate than we are okay. I think that Kindles are a great way to access text, fast, cheap and easy. My personal taste however is the opposite. I don;t enjoy reading on a Kindle for a variety of reason: I prefer the tactile nature of a book, I like the smell, I like owning the physical book etc...But as I mentioned. I see no problem if students want to read on Kindles as long as they're reading.

  5. I also believe that reading should not be something that people should be taught to do but rather given the chance to do. I know from experience that people can have a bad start but get better, when I was around 6 and my mom was trying to get me started reading i absolutely hated even the idea of reading but then when i was around the age of 7 i started to understand what i was actually reading and that was when the light switched on for me. I think that some people take longer then others to switch on.

  6. Hi Mr. Raisdana

    I also kind of wrote a post about why I love books and what makes me read them. I think It's kind of related to this post on books so here's a link to my blog and it's titled 'Books'. Anyone else who absolutely loves books might like it too.