To read widely comes with work. You have to be willing to pick your way through some titles that aren’t exactly buttering your toast (for me, that’s often non-fiction). Sometimes, even when you give the pages your all, you’ll only wipe your fingers of crumbs and move on. Books can be surprising and then, it’s like cinnamon sugar’s been added when you weren’t looking and you finish satisfied and cleaning the corners of your mouth.
To have a child that reads widely, well, that’s 15 times the work. As a parent you must be strong in the face of a young one who thinks his bread’s gone stale and that he’s reading with a very dry and uncomfortable mouth. To give your children the gift of being widely read is to parent with a deep will. I do not joke.
The impact is large when parents are involved in their children’s reading choices but not just as cops. When you give a child a book you have read and loved yourself and they love it too, it’s like a never-ending plate of freshly baked whatever cookies. When you sit down with your kid and talk about how crazy that section in The Mysterious Benedict Society was, you’re meeting him as a fan and an equal and at the risk of getting a snicker, it’s as if you’ve entered a small, grungy donut shop that opens to a large, open factory with an endless array of choices, some with sprinkles.
While we read a wide-range of tomes from Tom Sawyer to The 39 Clues, I do find myself drawing the line—and it’s not just proverbial—it’s actual and often painful for each of us. There are books that shouldn’t be read. Just shouldn’t. I declare this soundly and yet, to tell you which are unworthy, well, I should go and make some breakfast. But here’s a guy from The Wall Street Journal who’s taken a stab at just that and done it well so I defer to him. (here’s the article)
Boys can be boys and yet, while you’ve got them hanging around the house, reading is a way to widen their tastes. Reading will give them a chance to find out they do like Blackberry jam on whole wheat. They do. And while they chomp away, they might just get a look into something larger than themselves. Ideas that prepare them for how to live a fuller life.
So, parent friends, be strong. Help your kids (girls, too) make good choices—and keep a wide range of jellies around to help the literature go down.