Dear Readers – Many of you wrote in appreciation of my advice to a father whose daughter, 14, was avoiding reading books (Sept. 2).
The following response is one reader’s unique primer for coaxing reluctant readers:
Commentary - It’s best to start reading to children as soon as they’re born. But an older child can also be “tricked” into loving to read.
Step #1 - The parent must read. Take your child into the library or bookstore while Mom and/or Dad choose books they want to read.
Tell the child to look around but otherwise pay no attention. Should the child choose a book, lend it or buy it, don't make a fuss.
The important step is that the child sees the parent READING at home.
RULE #1 - Don’t worry whether the child’s chosen book is uplifting or classic or educational. You’re aim is to get the child to turn the pages.
Step #2 – The parent lends or buys a book to read that might also appeal to the child.
The reason given: "I want to find out more about what you’re interested in.” The parent reads the book when the child’s around, and comments: "Hey, did you know… (whatever).”
You want the child to realize there might be something in a book that’s of interest to her/him.
Step #3 - Advanced stage - The parent buys some supposedly scandalous book, explains that it’s a controversial book, but wants TO SEE FOR HIM/HERSELF.
Again, the parent reads the book in the presence of the older child.
The parent may explain that the book is too mature for such a young person to handle now. The book should then be placed in the parent’s bedroom.
If the kid isn't reading the book by week's end, I'll be surprised. In other words, the parent’s only pretending to censor.
It’s still all about tricking a kid into picking up a book and actually looking inside it.
The whole point of teaching kids to read is so that they figure out how to find out about stuff they want to know.
Step #4 - When the kid starts reading all the time, yell at them to go to bed, but make sure you keep flashlights on hand.
Most important, the parent has to keep right on reading. If books are littered around the house, it won't matter if the television’s on or not.
My parents had limited incomes, but we ALWAYS had more books than anyone else. And my brother’s spent his life developing literacy internationally.
FEEDBACK Regarding the graduate student trying to interest his classmate (August 31):
Reader #1 – “I say to him, your assumptions of her feelings are all in your head.
“How do you assume she liked your poem if she hasn't told you so? How can you think that someone who gets annoyed when you compliment her, likes you?
“Learn more about the signs of someone being interested in you – e.g. whether they start a conversation.
“I recently had to be firm with a man who thought I was into him. We get on the bus at the same stop. He’d compliment me. I’d thank him, then walk away.
“I next started cutting conversation short, showing that I was annoyed or ignoring him.
“I’d only look at him to make sure he wouldn't get too close physically. Yet he still asked me out for coffee. I declined, amazed that he thought I’d accept.
“If someone isn't talking to you, and gets irritated with compliments, leave them alone.”
I'm getting married soon, invitations went out weeks ago, response cards are returning.
A circle of my fiancé's parents' friends, none of whom he or I ever met, were invited. I didn't like inviting 28 guests who were strangers to us. They were also a last-minute addition.
I've accepted it. I understand this is also a milestone event for my fiancé's mother.
However, she recently mentioned another friend who’s heard about the wedding, and wants to add her.
I’m concerned about this spiralling out of control.
I feel we should be predominantly surrounded by our own friends and family at our wedding, not unfamiliar faces.
How To Handle?
Either just your fiancé, or you two together handle it, to avoid making this an issue of you against her.
Say firmly: Since someone has already spoken to this woman about the wedding, she’s the last addition. No one else whom we don’t know can attend.
Tip of the day:
Parents should encourage children to read by personal example.