Tuesday, 9 May 2017

We Can't Force a Child to Enjoy Reading

I arrived late to fiction.

I was a kid with a lot of energy and a vivid imagination. (Something I still have!)

I wanted to be out in the woods, climbing trees, splashing through streams; finding frogs, birds’ nests and dead stuff. We would make dens and tree-swings and get cut up and bruised. We would spy on the older kids and get chased by farmers.

That’s what being a boy was all about; discovering the world by prodding it and pushing it, to see if prodded and pushed back.

And it did, loads of times.

It was called lesson learnt.

The buzz came from thinking you were going to die - truly believing it was the end - but then making it home in time for dinner. 

Books couldn’t come close to that.  

They couldn’t pump me full of adrenalin, get my heart racing and my forehead dripping. 

How lame it felt to turn a page, when my legs were still shaking from being chased by Rottweilers and German Shepherds!

You can’t force a child to read and expect them to enjoy it.

You can’t expect them to get lost in a book - which is where the pleasure of reading is found - whilst constantly asking them what is meant by this passage and that piece of dialogue; and all the while, hanging the threat of homework above their heads, which is to “Write an essay on the protagonist’s perception of the world she can’t see.”

“I hate books.”

“Me too.”

If kids don’t enjoy reading, it might be because they’re enjoying being a kid.

Now, I absolutely love reading because I gave myself space to read.

And that’s good for me, because folk tend to call the cops when they see an adult in a tree.

It’s a shame, really. 

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