I don’t meet a great deal of parents who don’t want their kids to read. In fact I haven’t met any that I can think of. Intuitively, we understand that reading is key to academic success. With reading, like any skill, the more you do it the better at it you become. It follows then that a child who reads avidly will have a broader vocabulary, general knowledge, will write more effectively and be better able to access information with greater speed and efficiency than a child who is a reluctant reader. I don’t find many parents willing to disagree with me on these points. However, I do meet a lot of parents (and adults in general) who don’t read a great deal (or at all). These same parents wonder why their kids also won’t read.
Of course we want this for our children. We also want them to be physically active, to eat healthily and a whole bunch of other things that will lead to them living long and enriching lives. Alas, too often as adults what we say is not supported by our actions. I live in a house that is filled with books. I have books stacked on shelves in every room and piled on every bedside table. The situation is not helped much by the fact that, as a reviewer, I have new books arriving on the doorstep weekly (thank goodness the majority of them get donated to some of the schools in my local area). A good portion of our dinner-time conversation (and the drive home from school) involves sharing our love for books and our latest library find. Of course the happy side effect of living in a house full of books is that it is also a house filled with self-professed book-nerds.
On the flip side it is also why my children sometimes look at me like I am a crazed maniac when I suggest that they go outside and kick a ball around. My kids read books for the same reason that athletes have sport crazed kids and musicians produce pop stars. We can’t help but be influenced by our surroundings.
While being a reader yourself will not naturally guarantee that you will have offspring who also read, it is a good start. As a parent or teacher perhaps this is reason enough to discover (or rediscover) the joy that comes from reading…and when you do, don’t forget to talk about it.