Reading, demoralized

A digital bookmark, for the tracking of required reading.

This is what it’s come to with reading. “Take the work out of reading homework…” reads the timer’s website.  Millions of kids experience reading this way – how many minutes they have left; when they get to stop. Yet over and over I see in the missions of school systems the phrase “foster a lifelong love of learning.”  When we reduce things – things that many kids would otherwise love – to chore status, very little lifelong love of anything can result.

I’ve seen parents successfully loosen the grip of this phenomenon.  It takes faith in the face of a culture of doubt.  We worry that if we let kids be their own readers, they’ll never get anywhere with it, but that isn’t how it goes.  What actually happens is that they find room to accept the invitation.  Parents who’ve found this to be true have taken this leap of faith: they’ve decided to see their kids as individual readers with individuals tastes and preferences.  They let kids read stuff that seems junky, stuff with too many pictures or not enough pages or too much plot formula.  They trust them to choose what they read, let them read things over and over, let them read things that are too hard or too easy.  What happens when adults take these measures is that kids come to own their reading.  It becomes possible for reading to appeal to them.  (It also often happens that they become willing to take suggestions, try new genres, challenge themselves.)  It becomes appealing for them to keep reading once they’re no longer required to. Even for the rest of their lives.

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