Raising Book-Loving Kids: Does Assigning a Book Kill its Appeal?

[Another re-post from my Sidelines writing. I’d love to get your input.  Thanks!  Read on.]

Weigh in! Here’s a hot topic for parents and teachers alike who fight the battle to keep book-reading exciting and relevant in an age of electronics and instant gratification:

Does assigning a book kill its appeal for kids?

Being a Mom of Many, I actually have several “generations” of kids, and my eldest were the kind who needed their under-the-cover-flashlights taken and their bathroom passes revoked on a regular basis. They always “had a book going” and needed to be booted out of the hall bathroom where they hid from chores and jumped into their latest chapters. The second “generation” had more access to Youtube and Netflix, and the challenge with them is to convince them that the old cliché I repeat is really, really true: “The book is usually better than the movie.” Typically, they just look at me blankly when I say that, respond “OK,” and turn back to their videos. No contest, but no test either. “Sure, Mom.”

So this is to say that I am raising children from both sides of the great divide: The die-hard “Bookworms” and the “Movie Addicts.” So you would think that my answer to the above question would depend on which group I’m speaking of. It doesn’t! No bearing at all! It seems to me – and I am usually good at framing these things persuasively and attractively, as well as being pretty advanced in my negotiating skills – again, it seems to me that, as soon as I recommend or “assign” a book – classic, popular, whatever – that book gets relegated to the slush pile. It’s dead in the water.

Now maybe this is just a reflection on my persuasive skills, or the fact that my kids (and their friends) consider me a slightly-better version of a Tiger Mom, but unless I put them in a room bored, isolated, without electronics, and for a week or longer with nothing to do but to read that particular book, a book assigned by me has very little chance of being read – without coercion or deep incentive.

So and therefore: Moms, Teachers, Dads, Grandparents: Weigh in, please! If this is not your experience and you have tips that we all could use (because I’m about to confiscate electronics in this battle!!!), we would love to hear from you.

What’s your experience?


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