One Overly Analytical Mother's Obsessive Musings about Raising Small Children

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How Not to Raise a Reader

According to the last ten emails I've received, March is, supposedly, "Raise a Reader" month at Borders Bookstore. Besides the commercial implications (and Borders' vested interested in pushing literacy, despite its pending bankruptcy and closing store in my hometown), all of this emphasis on the value of early literacy got me thinking.

Everybody wants their children to read, right? Parents of preschoolers, especially, are anxious for early literacy. It seems as if we expect literacy earlier and earlier. When I was a kid, I remember that I was just starting to learn the letters of the alphabet in Kindergarten. Maybe I wasn't so bright, but it seems that now, we push books of all sorts on our children, hoping that they will read Tolstoy's Anna Karenina by the time they reach Kindergarten. Conscientious parents are inundated with information, products, and television programming that will help with early literacy. For God's sake, there's even a product that claims it can teach your baby to read! Think of all of the missed opportunities, you lazy parents!

My house is chock-a-block full of books and I can think of no better time than that spent reading to my kids, so what follows is a very tongue-in-cheek blog entry. I invite you to add some ideas of your own, for how we can teach our children NOT to read.

How Not to Raise a Reader

1. Do not keep books around the house. Keep books out of easy reach from young kids. They might tear them down from the shelves, accidentally rip pages, or otherwise disrespect them.

2.  Do not let your children see you enjoying a good book.

3.  Books are for serious readers only. We do not play with books, sleep with books, or literally try to "jump into" a book that we like.

4.  No reading in bed. No reading while on the potty. No reading in the car.

5.  Put a television in every room and see to it that it's turned on as often as possible.

6.  Do not visit the local library or bookshop.

7.  Do not reread things that you've already read. Do NOT cave in to your toddler's pleas to read The Cat in the Hat for the fortieth time.

8.  Do not read books out loud. That's for babies only. And if you do read aloud, don't be too animated about it. No silly voices; monotone is best so as not to excite your little one.

9. If you go to the library, insist that your child can only get one book. If they act up while at the library, then no book for them!

10.  Do not follow your child's interests and passions by reading books about those things. Only get them the books that you think are appropriate.

Readers--any more ideas?


  1. Do not move your lips while you read; it gives the impression you are talking to yourself.

    Always read one book all the way through before proceeding to another; it is the book itself that matters and not how it connects.

    Do not read with the punctuation; that's just stuff invented by uptight grammarians to stifle meaning.

  2. I love it--thanks for reading and commenting!
    I think I'm guilty of the second one, and am trying hard to get over that hang up. Life's too short to make yourself finish a bad book!