I overheard a conversation at a local bookstore. (I went in looking for a book, and left with several in my arms.)
The question that struck me after hearing this conversation is, what will happen to this poor child? There is a lot to be said about reading the classics, but there is much more to be said about reading for enjoyment.
Child: Mom can I get this book? It’s awesome.
Mother: No, you are going to read 1984, you need to read the classics. You need to get good marks and reading the classics are the only thing you can read.
Child: But these are boring.
Mother: I don’t care. You will read these, and then you will write a report.
Child: (puts book down– goes and gets 1984, with a sad look to the other books) Okay.
Mother: You are going to be a writer…. So you need to learn how. The classics are the only way.
Child: Sure… whatever.
Mother: So read the classics.
Now, off to my rant.
I think this mother has focused too much on reports and marks and school, and she has now destroyed the spirit of her child. I believe Mother’s efforts will result in raising a non-reader. I know that I loved reading anything I could get my hands on, and I still love reading because my parents encouraged me to do it.
This mother is not encouraging at all. She doesn’t think of the effect of what kids think are boring books. Frankly, I don’t think I will ever read Margaret Atwood again because in high school I was required to do so. Children want to know, they have a desire to know, and if they do want to become writers and have their books published, they need to love to read.
There is always one author who makes a difference to a person, and while a writer might drift from those particular works, they never forget the joy of reading– if you let children read what they love. Writing improves with time and effort, and most writers point to reading as a foundation for knowing that they wanted to write. This mother may, if she continues to do this, destroy a budding writer. She might think she is helping, but she is clearly destroying her child’s joy.
I asked the bookstore staff if this mother is a regular customer, and they told me that she comes often. For some reason, marks are the only indicator of success to her, and she doesn’t care if she makes her child into a reader or not. Since he wants to write, he needs to read classics, and that is that….
Unfortunately, I think that without nurturing a love of reading, a child’s writing will not improve, and he will lose something that can only be found when you love both reading and writing.