My family likes to read, and we specifically like to read fiction. Except my 11-year old son, Alex (affectionately known as the Squirrel). He would rather run and jump and play outdoors. While those are wonderful activities and part of a healthy life, this literature thing is pretty good, too.
So I’m looking for suggestions. What can I do to encourage the Squirrel to read?
I would have thought interest in reading would be passed down genetically; our other children have certainly caught the bug. I read everything, though I’m currently on a YA doom kick (Hunger Games, Maze Runner, etc.). My wife reads excessively and is currently on a YA fantasy kick.
My oldest daughter has recently flitted from Les Miserables to Tales of Genji, just finished a Lynn Kurland kick, and is currently working on a fat fantasy (she also writes, recently winning the LTUE writing contest). My oldest son has developed an interest in post-apocalyptic survival tales, and my second son is reading his sixth fat fantasy in a row (David Eddings).
The five-year old loves to look at the big dinosaur and mythology books every day (not reading yet, but will soon), and even the three-year old has taken to sitting down and paging through whatever book is handy; if there’s a picture he’ll try to name what it is, otherwise he just points at the words and pretends to read.
But not the Squirrel. He doesn’t like books. We just took him to the book fair at school and he didn’t find a single thing there was interested it.
To be fair, neither did I; too many zombies, sports heroes, and Justin Bieber(s). And he does read somewhat. He prefers fact and true-life adventure, but he pretty much only reads one book a month where the rest of us read 1-3 books a week—and that’s usually a homework assignment. He doesn’t care much for fiction at all, and considers science fiction and fantasy to be actively boring.
Where did I go wrong, and what can I do to fix it?
We’ve tried to encourage him to read something, anything. We tried comics and graphic novels. We have the Britannica encyclopedias (and an old World Book set, as well as several developmental reader series and story collections). We offer shopping trips to the bookstore. But while he will read, there’s no enthusiasm, no fire. It’s a chore to be completed after his homework and before playing on his computer or going outside to play soccer, football, or tag.
I guess there’s nothing wrong with a literature-free life, but I feel like I’ve failed in my parental duty to convince him of the merits. So I’m looking for suggestions, tips, techniques, or bribes that are effective in encouraging a reluctant reader.
At least he hasn’t announced his passionate quest to conquer chartered public accountancy. I don’t even know where to look for help on that.