Let them choose (reluctant reader series tip 2)

Hands down the most frequently discussed reading concern I hear from parents is about reading level: whether their kids are on track, and if they are, why on earth they won’t self-select books that are at their reading level.

Reluctant reader tip #2: let them choose!

Let your kids choose what to read. Whether it’s low-brow, too commercial, too easy, too hard, asinine, magazines, comics, shampoo bottles, whatever.

As you resist the temptation to require a certain type of reading from them at home you will have time to examine your opinions about the literature your kiddo is consuming. What about it bothers you? Consider all components of it (vocabulary, plot, characters, purpose for reading, illustrations, etc.) and challenge yourself to find one redeeming quality.

You will also have time to observe. What is it about this book that pulls her in? What does she say about it after she’s done reading?

If you’re reluctant to try this hands-off approach, imagine this: you’re enjoying a long-awaited beach vacation. You settle into your chair and reach into your bag only to find that your __________ (People magazine, newest title in your favorite series, book that your friend recommended) has been replaced by the four volume Norton Anthology of Shakespeare. (Funny you didn’t notice that earlier when your bag was ten pounds heavier.) You don’t hate Shakespeare. But it’s unwieldy to balance the enormous book on your lap when you’re in the sand. You don’t have a pencil to jot down ideas in the margins. Your kids keep interrupting you which makes glancing down at the footnotes nigh impossible. Or…maybe you do just actually hate Shakespeare! You’re capable of reading it but it has never captured your imagination. Blah. Or…maybe you don’t feel capable at all to read Shakespeare. The Book Chooser thinks you are but you disagree. Now someone has figured out a way to make you feel stupid at the beach. Oh joy.

Reluctance to do anything is not overcome by being forced to do it in a certain way. It certainly isn’t easy to step aside and let them choose. But the more disgust there is for reading, the more drastic measures I recommend in being completely hands off about book selection. Give it a shot and see what happens. And stay tuned for tip number three!

Up next: Reluctant reader tip #3: lay the feast. See how exposing your kids to a wide variety of rich literature can expand their horizons.

This series originally appeared on Facebook and Instagram under the hashtag #lovereluctantreaders. If you’d like to start at the beginning of the series you can click here.