Give Kids Good Books And They’ll Love Reading Forever

From The Huffington Post:

Is it weird that I’m almost 30 and my favorite books are kid’s books?

The first book I read this year was Renee Watson’s 2018 children’s novel “Piecing Me Together.” I picked it up thanks to its beautiful cover and relatively short chapters. But those brief sections of text held a complex story about a young Black girl trying to navigate identity, privilege and history in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, that my adult self found wholly relatable.

Sales of children’s books and young adult, or YA, fiction have boomed in recent years, especially for books that tackle mature subject matter, from gender and sexuality in Alex Gino’s “George,” to the movement for Black lives as featured in Angie Thomas’ “The Hate U Give.” In Jenny Han’s 2014 book “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before,” kids can learn lessons about love and friendship in the 21st century; in R.J. Palacio’s 2012 book “Wonder,” they can develop language around chronic illness and acceptance; through Tiffany Jackson’s “Monday’s Not Coming,” they can get a better grasp on headline-making stories, such as that of the missing Black and brown girls in Washington, D.C.

. . . .

Some of the most popular books currently on bookstands are intended for younger readers. There are so many graphic novels, chapter books, picture books and poetry collections written just for kids, all of which teach them important lessons on life that grown-ups will get a kick out of too. While at 28 years old, I’m devouring these titles, sadly the intended audience is barely nibbling on the rich literature available to them.

. . . .

A love of reading and storytelling sets kids up for socioeconomic success as they grow through life. But if the numbers are to be believed, as kids advance in age, they tend to fall out of love with reading. And who can blame them, really, when what they’re told to read becomes increasingly dense and outdated as they make their way through school? Common Core standards have long been criticized for taking the fun out of English class, as students are given nonfiction and articles to read since that’s the type of content they’ll encounter in college. Just before this school year began, Florida’s Department of Education unveiled their student reading list for Kindergarten through 12th grade. With few exceptions, most of the books on the list were published between 1800 and 1950 and featured mostly white characters penned by mostly white male authors.

Link to the rest at The Huffington Post

For the record, PG does not agree with the premise that correlating the race and gender of an author with those of a reader is the key to permitting a child or teenager with a book.

PG will note that JK Rowling certainly knew/knows how to connect with boys with her books. Nicholas Sparks seems to know how to connect with female readers.

See also Fox in the Hen House? Romance Authors You Didn’t Know Are Men and Meet the Male Writers Who Hide Their Gender to Attract Female Readers.

See also The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand, featuring testosterone-poisoned Howard Roark, and Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, who, if PG remembers correctly, was 18 years old when she started writing the book, which many would have considered completely unsuitable for a young woman in her time.

8 thoughts on “Give Kids Good Books And They’ll Love Reading Forever”

  1. The title of the post is absolute codswallop. Yes, children should be exposed to a wide variety of books. But if they don’t want to read, no force on earth will make them. This I learned through experience.

    • codswallop, noun (British slang) — nonsense; rubbish / origin obscure (but I think we are safe in the surmise that the fishing warves of Yorkshire were more likely to have originated the term than the residents of Buckingham Palace)

      Bill Peschel, Do you mean that the title is a consignment of geriatric shoe menders (CGSM); that is, a load of old cobblers?

  2. “While at 28 years old, I’m devouring these titles, sadly the intended audience is barely nibbling on the rich literature available to them.”

    D’you think that might be a clue that YA authors are writing more to the taste of their peers than their supposed audience?

    • /sarc Of course not! Everyone knows that young readers want to be taught about social issues, race/gender/economic discrimination, and terminal illnesses in their pleasure reading.

      Yes, I read some less-than-fun books as a teen, but I leaned toward escapist fiction. I didn’t need to read about kids getting bullied. I lived that. I wanted to read about heroes and dragon-slayers and exploring new worlds.

    • Submitted for your consideration:

      “By some market estimates, nearly 70 percent of all YA titles are purchased by adults between the ages of 18 and 64. Of course, some of those are parents, but, assuming that the majority of actual young adults, who are old enough to make their own book purchases, a lot of “non-young adults” are reading those teen books.”

      Definitely Rod Serling territory.

  3. My sil teaches 4th grade in an underprivileged school district and this year,I remembered all the old books I had collected for my own daughter over the years. As a sophomore in college, she has outgrown them all and I ended up with over 50 books to donate to sil’s classroom. See, when I was in 4th grade, even though my teacher was strict and somewhat cold, she had one good point. Every day, unless we were really bad, she’d give us a 30-45 min free time. Some kids played board games, some played jacks, but me, I would go to the back of the room and select a book from the fifty or so she had for anyone to read. I read Robinson Crusoe and Swiss Family Robinson from that shelf. There were more too, but it was, by far, my favorite part of that school year, and one of the most memorable things from my school days.

    I hope some child or two in her class discovers the joy of reading after exploring her book shelf.

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