Wednesday, February 10, 2010

To read next, and BTT snuck up on me--Encouragement

For our next read, my book group chose the book I was coveting last week--Just Kids, by Patti Smith. It's the memoir of her romance and lifelong friendship with Robert Mapplethorpe, and how they spurred each other to become artists. I had to laugh--a bunch of my book groupers had the same idea I did, so I didn't have to persuade anyone--they even brought the New York Times Book Review from that week, which featured Just Kids.

I also have a copy of the Booker Prize-winning Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel, on my nightstand. It's pretty hefty (um, 560 pages), and it's historical, but I think I'm up for the challenge. It's about Henry VIII, through the eyes of Thomas Cromwell, his close advisor. I know it mixes fiction with fact, but I'm looking forward to learning more about this era of history by diving into this novel.

Is it really Thursday already? I don't know where the time goes. My book group friend told me her husband woke her in the middle of the night recently, to say he'd solved all their problems--he was just going to add another hour to the day between 3 and 4 in the morning. Sounds good to me! Here's this week's Booking Through Thursday question:

Suggested by Barbara H:

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.”

This is a tough question. Right now, I have two kids who don't read enough for my liking (and one who doesn't read yet!). My 13-year-old and his younger brother (10) both like to read, but both feel like they don't have enough time to read for pleasure, because they have reading to do for school. I don't get it, because when I was a kid, I was always trying to sneak more reading in.

I think my eldest really likes reading, but is seduced by social networking, video games, and other stuff that we didn't even have when I was a kid. My younger one doesn't like reading quite as much as his brother did at this age, but he does love a good story, and really gets into the books they read at school. For his "free reading" (reading he has to do for school, but he gets to pick the book), he most recently finished Gary Paulsen's Hatchet, which his older brother also loved, and he just had to read the last page aloud to me, because it had a surprise ending--gotta love that. But I wish he would pick up a book on his own more often. I'm not sure how to encourage it, other than getting more books for them from the library, and trying to provide them with some down time when they can read. I limit the "screen time" anyway, so that helps create time for reading. But I don't like to push reading too hard, for fear that they will just resist.

If anyone has any good tips to get kids to read more, I'm all ears.


Brooke from The Bluestocking Guide said...

My mom was really strict. I wasn't allowed to walk but a couple of hours of tv per week. As for video games, we had a Nintendo that gathered dust.

Here is mine

tweezle said...

Good answer! My son love Paulsen's books as well. Maybe you should see if you son would like to read another one by him. Getting him hooked on an author could really start the ball rolling.

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

Rosemary said...

I can't wait to read Wolf Hall! Looking forward to your thoughts on it as well. :)

Jenny said...

My ds loved Hatchett too. He got The River, the follow up book to Hatchett for Christmas and is really enjoying it too.

Alayne said...

I read and loved Hatchet when I was much younger. Great answer!

I posted a Valentines book-related question at The Crowded Leaf if you're interested!

Ti said...

I've always said that adding another day of the week would solve unemployment for lots of folks and give those that need it, an extra day. They can call it Funday.

My book club chose Wolf Hall this year so I'm wondering how it will fly as a club book.

jlshall said...

I'm really looking forward to "Just Kids," too. In fact, I just ordered a copy - the library's waiting list was too long!

This week's topic was fun. My thoughts are here.

Anonymous said...

I am having exactly the same problem with my children. Funny, huh? I think you are doing the perfect thing -- modeling good reading habits. Eventually they'll catch on.

Bruce in LA

Amy said...

I have two boys, 20 and 17, who are both great readers but have got caught up in 'life' and don't read as much. With the oldest I don't worry, he's in college full time and works part time, and I notice he will read when he has time (he likes Robert Ludlum and nonfiction 'how to' books). But my 17 year old is in college part time and finishing high school, and I feel a duty to provide him with books to read. I try and find things that will interest him, like Cormac McCarthy (ones made into the movies he wasn't allowed to see!)and also titles from Alistair MacLean (old school mystery), John LeCarre (ditto) and nonfiction reads about Blackwater, the CIA, Survival Skills etc. I don't make him read them, but I make them accessible. I don't require a report on them, but usually they are something I've read and we discuss. Right now he's into Jack London. He needs gentle prodding but it makes a difference.
I also make sure we have two nights a week with no electronics, and while they resisted it at first, now it's downright pleasant. My 2 year old doesn't worry me yet, he loves to read and frankly I wish he'd not want to read the same stories each night, but he loves the repetition.

Anonymous said...

I was really enjoying Wolf Hall, but I set it down a few weeks ago and have yet to pick it back up. It requires A LOT of concentration.

Booksnyc said...

I heard an interview with Patti Smith on the NYT book review podcast and she completely piqued my interest in the book. Looking forward to hearing what you and your book club think of the book!

Fay Sheco said...

The fault may be mine, but I have just about given up on Wolf Hall. About 80 pages in, I'm finding it flat. Just cannot find the motivation to continue.

Gentle Reader said...

Brooke--sounds like you benefitted from the strict parenting! My parents were strict, too, and reading was always encouraged. But I think that my parents modeled the behavior, and they were always reading, was what encouraged me most :)

tweezle--my eldest also read other Paulsen books, which he really loved. I think I'll get the next in the series from the library!

Rosemary--I can't wait to read it, either. It's next up after Just Kids!

Jenny--I've made a note to get The River next--thanks!

Alayne--thanks for the link, will check it out. And Happy Valentine's Day!

Ti--lol, Funday is a great idea! And I hesitated to recommend Wolf Hall for my book group because we don't do so well with historical novels, or chunksters, in my group. Not everyone has the patience!

jlshall--my library's waiting list was far too long, too. So I ordered! Thanks for the link, will check out your post :)

Bruce--LOL. I think my parents modeling good reading habits was good for me, so I'm hoping...

Amy--I love that your middle one is into Jack London! He was one of my faves as a teenager. Sounds like your 2-year-old is on the right track :)

softdrink--that's what I was afraid of when I saw how long Wolf Hall was! Was I wrong to be inspired to read it by watching The Tudors on Showtime?

Booksync--I think my sister-in-law heard that interview, and said she was surprised Smith sounded so normal! I thought the NYT Book Review was good, too :)

Fay--I hear you--I really have to be in the right mood to read historical novels, so I'm waiting for inspiration to strike!

litlove said...

As you know, my son is not a keen reader at present. But he happily listens to an audio book, particularly on a car journey, when he will actively demand one. I've also read aloud to the family with a lot of success - I read David Sedaris and his tales of mad family life and they went down well.

Anonymous said...

I'm feeling challenged reading Wolf Hall as well, knowing it's hefty size. I might need a bit of historical background before attempting it.