Reading, much more fun than housework

I had a longer comment to Chris’s post here on some sad and sorry reading statistics for adults.

I’ll never forget the woman who came to me desperate for reading help for her two children in public school. I loaned her book after book for them, answered as many questions as she had, gave advice up the wazoo. Still she struggled with teaching them, and they with learning. Six months later, there was some improvement, and she asked if there was more she could do.

I asked her how much reading did she do – did she read the paper? Have favorite books? Did the kids see her read?

“Oh God no!” she answered, “There’s too much to do! I have a house to clean and look after. Who has time to read?”

It was then I knew I had lost her.

I didn’t help her much after that. How can you help people who refuse to help themselves? How can children love reading when their parents hold it either in contempt or just a thing you do to get somewhere else?

Author: andrea

Older, possibly wiser, still forgetful.

8 thoughts on “Reading, much more fun than housework”

  1. I know what you mean. I had a conversation with a fellow homeschooling mom a few weeks ago. She told me she “wasn’t much of a reader”. I wanted to blurt out, “Then how are you going to teach your kids ANYTHING?” But her comment was followed with a self-righteous list of all the things she does, how clean she likes to keep her house, etc. Personally, I’d rather live in a passably clean house with time to read than a spotless house with no books.

  2. My sister, a public school teacher in California, has noticed the same trend. Parents that don’t or hate to read raise kids that don’t or hate to read. As she put it, “Getting those kids to read is like trying to get somewhere on a treadmill.” Personally, I’d bypass chores any day to read a book…but that was the way I was raised. My mother (also a school teacher) was a big reader. Kids do my example. You can’t tell them, “Do as I say, not as I do.” It doesn’t work that way!


  3. Great post. I have to throw this in, though. My husband reads all the time. He reads when he comes home from lunch. He reads every evening. I read quite often, every day but can’t put the same time in that he does. My son has been read to since he was a baby.

    My son hates to read. Asking him to read a book is like pulling teeth. He’s seen his parents set the example his entire life. It is a very rare thing for him to pick up a book and read on his own, though. Once I get him started he may not put a book down, but he has no desire to pick the book up to begin with.

    Where did I go wrong? lol If he didn’t look so much like me and act so much like his daddy, I’d swear he was switched at birth.

  4. I think the way public schools teach reading destroys the natural love for reading children have. It is exciting to go into a new world a book develops. But schools make you do reports, so reading becomes a chore, and you can’t read what you are interested in.

    This just ancedontal, but most of the children we know in public schools don’t seem to like to read. And most of the homeschooled children we know love to read.

  5. I followed the link at COD’s page and found a page that was much too text heavy for me to muddle through, but those statistics, if correct, are alarming. They are so bad that I can’t help but think there’s something wrong. But maybe because we are among those book geek homeschoolers I just cringe at the truth laid bare.

    My three year old, though he doesn’t actually read quite yet has begun bringing books to meals following his big brother’s example. I’m so proud of him.

  6. This is so true. Modeling is a much more powerful tool than anything else in teaching our children. (Not to say that other things aren’t important too.)

    And a note to Frankie – every kid/person is different. Perhaps, in time, he might find the genre of book he likes to read, especially if it’s about his favorite topic.

    Sometimes, we define “reading” as “reading something important”. But reading is reading, even if it’s a comic book or video game how-to. Not everyone likes to read novels and fiction – even those that are raised in a house full of books.

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