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Writers Against Racism: Reading on the Run

My son has been so diligent this summer as he prepares for his departure to boarding school (high school) in September.  *sniff*  He has been plowing through his summer reading books with a vengeance!  He’s such a hardworker but I can’t help but wonder if he’ll he ever develop a passion for pleasure reading?  He’s the kid who reads because he has to. (I guess most boys do?) It’s a part of his check off.  He LOVES to, what I call, TALKTHEBOOK OUT. Meaning….he talks/fleshes out the marrow of  the plot and the characters but I STILL don’t feel it’s pleasure. Maybe I’m wrong, or maybe with boys, they’re wired to love books differently.

Starting a new chapter in life is never easy, with each new page, a mystery ensues.

And still I grapple with this…he loves learning and soaking up new things but I worry that he associates reading with ‘work’.

It reminded me of the CBC Teen Book Panel…Before school ended I attended the event and one of the teens made a profound testimony. She said, “during the school year, I have NO time for pleasure reading. That has to wait until the summer.”  There were so many assigned readings throughout the school year that pleasure reading had to take a back seat. Huh?  There’s no time for pleasure reading!? I’m not looking for an answer, as we know this is complicated.

With my son, I tried every way possible to make pleasure reading FUN. No, I did not dress up as the characters but I did spend time looking at book jackets with him, taking him to the library, etc — Never did I think that he would have the challenge of finding-the-time to pleasure read.

My son loved for me to read to him.

I was one of those helicopter moms...YOU WILL LOVE READING!!!


My pal, Mike McQueen is committed to helping struggling readers. I wonder if there’s an association between lack of interest in reading – because kids these days are too busy – and struggling. Let me know.

Anyway, Mike wrote to me recently to share his new website


  1. Hi Amy, this is really an issue for me as well. My elder daughter always loved and still love listening at stories, but about reading she has never been a greast fan. And no matter we were attending the library too, or living in a house where walls are full of books and sometimes even on the floor because there is no more room for them on the shelves… nothing great happened untill last term of school (she is 12) when started reading at school, during break time Oliver Twist by Dickens and she was totally captured and after that book she read other two books in just few days… i thought wow now she is the rythm but now is summer and as we live a small village by the sea, it’s just time to swimm and stay outdoor. Anyway i believe us parents we should not force our children in reading, I know we feel discouraged because we love books and we ‘d like our children to become great readers too, like us, but as you said, let’s give time to time… while growing and facing new experiences things may change. LOL

  2. Oops forgot about your last questions, i thing children nowadays have too many other distractions, technology at first: i pod, computer, tv, play station, Nintendo DSI and what else…???? So of course children may not have time and patient to sit and enjoy the pleasure of reading and imagining what the author is telling us through his language and his words. We are living in a time where everything is a challenge, everything is a sort of competition and everyone wants to say and speak and talk… and is not any more in use the verb LISTENING. Children rarely listen and this is a big loss for our social communities.
    in my personal case, they just own a mobile phone, and sometimes use computer to do researches for school or connect through fb with friends who are far away. But nothing more, even tv we don’t have. By the way as i said in my former post, in my experience the lackness of interest in reading can be associated with something different than techonology invasion in children’s life, but is always related to the speed of life the world society has taken.

  3. I love the knot on the side and the black color because both enhance your cheekbones and you look like a devout Muslim woman. I give this scarf a 3.5 for mystery, exoticism and feature enhancement.
    My son loves to read for pleasure and my daughter reads per assignment. He has a Kindle and reads a couple a books a week. We would love for him to read slower and really understand character, plot and literary devices etc. On the other hand, my daughter doesn’t read enough for my taste. I want her to love books and love to read like I do and like my son does.

  4. Valentina, I agree 100%. EVERYTHING is a challenge when it comes to our children. They don’t see reading the way we did/do because of these ‘distractions’. I’m not convinced they see them as distractions though. That’s just the way they know things to be. Then I wonder, who am I to say that the way he reads is wrong. I don’t want to judge him. They want quick access to answers and maybe they’re supposed to get it. I remember as a kid being frustrated when I would call someone and that annoying busy signal would ‘sound’. Then there was call waiting, which fixed that problem. We’re a world of people that can’t seem to wait. Unless we are forced to.

    GBM…what is the secret? Is it genetic that he loves reading for pleasure? Maybe I’ll try the Kindle, as I have been told by a few librarians that the ‘container’ matters. My daughter doesn’t read for pleasure either. *sigh* Are there particular ways you select books for your children? I’m working on a post called “Do book jackets matter?” I believe they do.

    I appreciate your scarves feedback. They make/force me to look in the mirror to see what you see. What I am seeing is never indicated in the comments, which fascinates me! I’ve been told that I resemble a traditional Yemenite woman, too. Thanks for the feedback. 🙂

  5. Amy, like the scarf, but love some of the others more. I give this one a three because the material, along with the solid black, seem to be too heavy for you. I usually don’t wear scarves, but my sister made two for me this summer. I thought of you when I accepted them and have decided to wear them in your honor.
    As for reading, it’s hard to know how to get others interested in it. When my daughter was four, I picked her up at daycare and they told me she had started reading. I said, “Oh, you’re teaching her to read?” The teacher replied, “No, she started reading by herself. The posters, the books, everything.” My son used to carry around thick books and pretend to read them when he was three or four. When I would offer to get him a book he could read he would reply, “No, I want to read books without pictures because it makes me look smarter.” He read because his older sister could do it (4 1/2 years difference). During college my daughter would recommend books I had not heard of and my son would tell me how much he was bored by assigned books. Now my daughter edits a newspaper and reads constantly – on the Internet. She tells me she looks forward to the time when she gets her job organized enough that she has the time and energy to read BOOKS again. My son, in his second year of college (he graduated high school early) edits other people’s work and writes his own stories more than he reads for pleasure, but he one of the most insightful readers I have met. Teachers have had him lead the class in high school and college because he seems to understand the characters. Both of my children are great writers; mainly because they read so much. I did not tell them to read, but I read and they didn’t want to be left behind. My husband is not a reader, but they have worked hard to get him started. He reads some, then stops. We all have extremely different tastes in reading, but spend time discussing the merits of books we have read (or should have read). I don’t think they love reading the same way I do, but I think they love it just as much in their own way.
    Consider today’s world: older people seem to like to touch the object they read while younger people like to see it on a screen. Is one way better than the other?
    I didn’t censor what my kids read. Some books were ‘too old’ for them, but they told me they enjoyed parts at one age and other parts when they got old enough to understand them. I sometimes recommend a book, but that usually means death to any chances my kids will read them. I understand because I often read ten books a week as a student, but struggled to get an assigned book finished. My son told me last year that he finds pleasure in the books he reads for school – just a different kind of pleasure than non-school books provides. So I leave him alone and he educates me with his extensive knowledge gained from “pleasure reading” everything he can find about his topic of the day. I can’t remember ever trying to teach them to read or to get them to read. They tell me they read because I seemed to enjoy it so much. Maybe I’m just lucky.
    Also, nearly all of my students are non-readers. Last year my National Honor Society members were collecting books to donate to an elementary school. We collected more than three thousand books, all of which spent time in my classroom. My students began looking at the graphic novels, then the picture books, then all of the books. They started reading. Do you think I told them the books were too simple for their age? No way. I let them take them home and some students even asked if they could keep the book. We had enough books for every student in one of our poorer elementary schools to take two books and enough left over for interested students in my high school to have. I never know what is going to turn someone into a reader. I just celebrate when it happens.
    I know this is a long post, so you can read it in shifts!

  6. First of all, THANK YOU so much Amy for the compliments about my sites and also for posting such a great question / observation. I just discovered this post late at night on my iPhone during vacation. I will check back again when I’m back in town at a computer because my mind is reeling with thoughts and my thumbs are already tired from typing this much 🙂

    One thought I will leave you with and address more later:

    “Can reading for purpose also be pleasurable for you son?”

    I find great pleasure when I’m reading some complex snippet of information because I want or need to know something. What others may think of as work is often more enjoyable to me because I feel a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment. Example: I love to read complex business related research articles.

    • Mike, “Can reading for purpose also be pleasurable for you son?” Maybe we shouldn’t separate the two? We/I, spend so much time trying to figure things out, that I believe it creates quagmire. I have to think more about this and do some investigating. Thanks for sharing your link and inspiring this thread.

  7. Beverly, I always look forward to reading your comments, so let me take this time to thank you. Also, I would LOVE to see a picture of you with your sister’s scarf. Scarves have new meaning for me since you put forth this initiative. I agree. This scarf is another ‘hot’ one and my sister took the picture which annoys me because I take my own pictures and she said, “oh. looks good” And it did not! 🙂

    I LOVE and admire how both of your children ‘spiraled’ into reading. It reminds me of George a bit, in that, I believe his children watched their parents when they did not realize. I have to dig through his comments. I am almost certain they similarly ‘got reading’ through getting it. YOUR inspiration should not be overlooked in this. Have you asked them what inspired them? Having a “topic of the day” sounds like a winning idea that I will try with my children. It puts the power and intrigue in their corner. Which is truly what reading is about.

    You did not push them and that’s the key. Here in NYC, if you don’t push your kids to read and participate in outside activities, you are not ‘parenting’. It’s so hard not to fall into the trap.

    WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME ABOUT THIS????!!!! If you have pictures, I will absolutely post them!!! What a great idea that is easy, yet so powerful, my friend. Thank you for your thoughts and ideas.
    Last year my National Honor Society members were collecting books to donate to an elementary school. We collected more than three thousand books, all of which spent time in my classroom. My students began looking at the graphic novels, then the picture books, then all of the books.

  8. My daughter and I were discussing why they read so much. She told me she did it because I seemed to enjoy reading and she wanted to do things I did. My son has told me in the past that he started reading to catch up with his sister. Although he is younger, he did his best to keep up with and even pass my daughter. He is someone who needs to know everything about a subject and wants to be informed enough to take care of those around him. They both said they love learning becuase I do (even though they don’t always love school!). Jason feels cheated when his teacher doesn’t push him to do better. Cristina quietly sets through such classes, but tells me she feels they are a waste of her time. Both skipped grades because they wanted to (Cristina the first and Jason the last) and both are convinced words are the most powerful thing in their lives. I am proud that I got at least one thing right in raising them; teaching them how to read and think for themselves. It’s not always easy when your children know more about a subject than you, but it definitely is interesting.

    • Bev, I love the zeal your children convey. I also love the fact that your daughter and mine share the same name. 🙂 “Words are the most powerful things in their lives.” That is a quote I will send off with my son to boarding school. You have given them so much…and me. 🙂

  9. Hi Amy, great post. I really like the pictures of your son and Oh how he has grown in just a few years! Its hard to believe that kind of growth is just around the corner in our house too. Reading together at our house now involves “study dates” so even though I don’t read to him the way I used to, we still are doing it together and that is pretty cool.

    We have blogged numerous times about how to make reading more enjoyable, but I think you may have inspired another blog post from yours truly. I just finished a book about how technology is transforming (biologically) our brains because of our access to instant information. The fact that he wants to talk about what he is reading is fabulous – his critical thinking skills are hard at work. You have done a great job!

    Regarding your statement about viewing reading as work: I don’t think it is a boy thing it is a learning thing. For those of us who love to learn, reading does not have to be viewed as “work” (most of the time). 🙂 It is enhancing our critical thinking skills. If we love to learn, and learning comes from reading, then that is pleasure! 😉

    • Kakie, both of our boys are growing at alarming rates! Time is amazing! I LOVE the study dates and may have to ‘take’ the idea and implement with my daughter. I agree with you that to put a gender stereotype on ‘work’ is plain wrong. I’m seeing that more and more, everyday. There’s so much to do and so many distractions that when these threads provoke such interesting interchanges, I feel invigorated. Thank you my friend. 🙂


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