Read a PROPER book

Something that happens heaps at the Children’s Desk is parents coming up and confiding “My child ONLY likes to read Rainbow Fairies/Captain Underpants/Famous Five/insert popular series here; how can I get them to read some proper books?” I’m sure even Roman Librarians were faced with parents saying “Meus parvulus tantum amo – I mean – my child ONLY likes to read Homer; how can I get them to read some proper books?” There are two things I normally tell parents in this situation :

1 – Any reading is good reading – comics, magazines, web pages even <groan> Dan Brown is perfectly satisfactory reading for any child. If your child likes to read, that’s awesome! Don’t get hung up on what they should be reading, just focus on what they enjoy.

2 – I used to read SUCH garbage when I was a kid and I turned out to be a wide-reading-modest-adult-genius: Sweet Valley High, Babysitters Club, Flowers in the Attic and pulp horror novels were all part of my reading diet, but it didn’t stop me from reading ‘proper’ books once I was a bit older.

One of the best things about my job is seeing kids tastes change and develop over time. It seems like it takes no time at all for a child to change from reserving all 84 (!)  books in the Rainbow Magic series, to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, or The Once and Future King.

If you want to read more about your child and reading, try “The Reading Bug”  by Paul Jennings or take a look at some of the reading resources for parents on our website.

6 thoughts on “Read a PROPER book

  1. Helen 11 September 2009 / 3:29 pm

    Well said, Lisa. I agree totally. There are also the parents(and sometimes it includes my naughty self) who want their children to read slightly fatter books so they don’t have to come to the library every few hours for new ones! Maybe we should be allowed to take out 40 books at a time if they are skinny ones? Do any libraries issue books according to a weight limit rather than an item limit?

  2. Lisa 11 September 2009 / 3:37 pm

    If there isn’t, there should be. It would make some big books less intimidating “I’d like 200 grams of Tolstoy please”

  3. Marion H 11 September 2009 / 6:42 pm

    I did my final project for MLIS on that – one of the thing it showed that you need to read a certain amount of series fiction to learn the pattern of fiction so that you can appreciate the more sophisticated writings that your parents want you to read. Most “readers for life” have delved into some sort of series fiction.

  4. mark 14 September 2009 / 5:27 pm

    I think part of the problem is that parents resent the mediocre author raking it in for”writing” such formulaic books.
    Mind you it’s curious how many pushy parents don’t actually read themselves, althought this doesn’t stop them criticising their children’s tastes!

  5. Lisa 15 September 2009 / 11:36 am

    I guess that goes back to the whole “Writing for children isn’t proper writing” thing. To people who say that, I say “Try it!” It’s not easy to be eloquent with a few words e.g.
    “Pirates cry, and so, do I” (Mem Fox in Tough Boris) deceptively simple I say.

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