I’ve spoken before about how much I enjoy reading parenting books that teach what I already know-I love being preached to, as a member of the choir! I get a smug sense of satisfaction, sort of like sitting through a class that you already know the lesson of. Regardless, I like to read these books anyway, because as a bookworm, How to Raise a Reader seems like something I just HAVE to read, even if I can already anticipate most of what’s being said. Plus, the authors Pamela Paul and Maria Russo are well-respected book reviewers and they include an extensive list of recommended children’s books at the back of this one, so for those suggestions alone I knew it would be worthwhile.
About a year ago I read a similar book called The Enchanted Hour which was all about why reading aloud is important. Again, I knew it was important, but it was nice to learn about all the ways reading aloud can improves one’s life, family and relationships. How to Raise a Reader is more of a how-to manual, split into ages about encouraging your child to read. It too mentions how important is it to read aloud to your kids even after they can read on their own, but it’s more about shaping your child into a reader, and what you should (and shouldn’t do!) at each stage of their reading to help them discover the beauty of books. The baby section I breezed past because I’m already through that stage with my kids, but I still read it because I 1) always read every part of a book, I hate skipping over stuff and 2) thought I may learn some useful advice to pass along to my friends who have their babies. Although each section did have a few useful tips, I was already doing most of them. The advice surrounding the teenage years however I found enormously helpful, as the best route there seems to be gently suggesting books to them by leaving a few in their room every once in a while, and just trying to discuss what you’re reading with them as opposed to drilling them about books, forcing your own teenage preferences, etc.
I remember a few years ago I was speaking to a co-worker who had preteen kids, and she mentioned that she read the books they wanted to read first to check it for content, making sure it wasn’t too violent, sexual, etc. I was silently horrified that she did this, and a section of this book devotes some attention to that topic too (agreeing with my stance, another reason to be smug!). Personally, I think that would be a huge waste of time, as I don’t have any desire to read some weird YA books my kids will inevitably become obsessed with. Secondly, if my kid is able to read at a grade level above her actual age, I think she deserves to read these older books as a reward. The thing is, kids are exposed to crazy stuff nowadays through the internet, and I’d rather my children be exposed to these adult topics through written words than having it flash up on a screen at their friends house, which will inevitably happen too I’m sure. If I notice she’s reading adult books as a teen or preteen, that’s an opening for a conversation, rather than a reason to punish, or fear for her. Of course I’ve also been a parent long enough to realize the best laid plans rarely come to fruition so this may change, but I’ll head into this stage of my kids reading with an open mind.
Over half of the 200 pages of this book are recommendations; sorted by reading level (picture books, middle grade, YA) and topic. The title and author is given alongside a very brief one or two sentence description of what the book is about, which was just enough to entice but not bore. Clearly, as book reviewers, these authors knew what they were best suited to write about! Those who know me in real life (IRL) know that I give away my books as soon as I’m done reading them, because I never re-read but I’m going to make an exception with this book because these lists are just too valuable to give away, I’m planning on referring to them again and again as my kids age into new reading levels and interests.
Reading a book like this isn’t as useful for a person like me, (even if I enjoy it) but for parents who don’t feel as comfortable around books, or are trying to build up their library, this is a must-read. It’s a sad fact that many kids are growing up without a single book in their homes, but this is why access to libraries are a human right. For those parents who can’t go out and purchase new books regularly, take this book out from the library and track what you want to take out in the future, it’s worth the effort. And for those who are able to purchase it, please do! Your children will thank you for it. Plus, the book is beautiful, its a hardcover with full-colour illustrations inside, so it’s a nice edition to add to your bookshelf and pass down to your children if they become parents too.
I almost wonder if this book is very helpful to readers. For instance, I read all the time, but as I try to get my 10 and 11 year-old nieces to read, they look at my like I’ve asked them to do calculus. They’ve been reading the same books since they were about 8 (Dog Man, in particular), and I’m trying to get them to read more age-appropriate stuff. They love the Baby-Sitters Club, and while I am pro-graphic novels, they only read the graphic novel versions of this series, so I wonder how much text there is compared to images. Did they have any good advice about tweens whose parents aren’t readers?
Melanie, I would suggest that it’s possible that the Dog Man and other graphic novels will eventually lead them to trying other kinds of books on their own. Or maybe not? I have a 9 year old who still wants me to read to him at night and that’s when we can branch out into books with more text, but when he reads on his own, it’s Big Nate, Dog Man, and Wimpy Kid all the time. I’m trying to just have books around, bring them home, model reading, and hopefully it will set him up for reading later in life. It might not. There’s no way to control that, which kind of sucks for a book nerd like me! I think it would be harder for a niece or nephew that you don’t live with all the time. Maybe you could get them gift cards to Barnes and Noble for a holiday and they could pick out their own books? Sorry if all of this isn’t helpful!
OOooooh. Okay, this sounds stupid, but I hadn’t even considered gift cards. I always buy the books, but there is something terribly fun about shopping for what you want, isn’t there? This is helpful, Laila!
I think that’s helpful Laila, thank you!!!! GIves me courage for when my kids get older and stuck on a series, which will no doubt happen LOL
They did! Although not a ton of it. I think the book recommendations are helpful b/c if you’re not familiar with what ‘kids are reading these days’ it’s a good starting point. It also gives good general tips about taking kids to book stores with you, etc.
You give away all your books when you’re done reading?!?! I’m going to need to sit with that for a minute.
Reading what your kids want to read to vet it always seemed like a colossal waste of time to me. I’m with you – let their reading material be a gateway to discussion. I am interested to see how people get their teens to keep reading though – any books I suggested to my brothers and sisters was always met with an eye roll in their teen years. Only this year did my now 24 year old sister ask if I had all of the Anne of Green Gables books for her to borrow (I did) because she’s finally reading them 12 years after I recommended them.
I for sure love a smug read like this. I feel like I got everything I need from this review though! I always hated the books my mom bought for me after I could read on my own – she likes fantasy and i never have. But I’m grateful to have grown up with ready access to books always and I hope to give the same to my daughter! She’ll break my heart if she doesn’t like to read.
I can almost guarantee you that your daugther will love reading if you do. Both my kids are so used to seeing me handling books, reading to them, they both love them. All you have to do is model it! Also, my new job at calgaryreads.com is all about growing readers, you should check out their site b/c it has helpful resources 🙂
My parents never censored what I read growing up, and I’m thankful for that. I don’t intend on censoring my son’s reading either. Now Youtube, that’s another story! Ha ha. I read Pamela Paul’s memoir and I enjoyed it. Have you read it?
Oh, I didn’t realize she had a memoir??? very cool I should check that out
I second this recommendation, My Life with Bob (B.O.B. being Book of Books, i.e. her reading log).
I’ve seen this in the bookstore but never looked at it. It sounds exactly like something I would enjoy (for the same reason as you – that I could smugly agree with it!) My daughter recently told me that the thing she’s most excited about for school is learning to read and it made me so happy!
nice! That’s a true mom win right there
I’m so glad you read this one, Anne! I’ve been curious about it for ages but it came out after I could put the advice to ready-use, so now that I know about the lists, I know I would still enjoy it, even so! And, yes, I’m also of the free rein philosophy when it comes to reading books (and some other things). Not only because I think kids reach out when they’re ready to learn and, if you’re actively parenting, you’re there for questions if they do end up grabbing hold of something that they weren’t expecting and they need more information. But also because I think restricting and forbidding only leads to kids (people!) being contrary. I mean the MOST interesting books are the ones that someone tells you NOT to read, amiright?