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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Let The Children Read

I apologize. I have been woefully negligent in my blogging as of late. I have been hard at work on my latest work, a children's book called, "Why Did It Have To Rain Today?".  It's about a little boy whose plans for a wonderful Saturday outdoors is ruined by a rainstorm. When his mom tells him to read a book and wait for the rain to pass, Jack is aghast. Read a book?? On a Saturday?? But Jack finds that reading can be an adventure and a fine way to spend a rainy day.

Now I wrote this book for a reason. I have four children. One in college, one in high school, one in jr. high and one in elementary, and I have noticed a trend over the last few years that has me a little disturbed. When I was a kid, we read books and did these things called "book reports". This is probably where I get my love of book reviews. Nowadays, books are read for "points." Each book is worth a certain amount of points depending on the reading level and length of book. All sounds pretty kosher, right? That's what I thought. Now, herein lies the problem. Teachers are not only assigning books of a certain point value, but also of certain genres. Now I can see how this could be beneficial, to a point. It is sort of like having a child try lima beans for the first time. Either they like them, and like lima beans forever, or they make the WTF face and spit them right back at you like a pez dispenser, never to touch a lima bean again.

Genres are like that. I have read science fiction, I do not like science fiction. I tried it, I don't like it, end of story. Being forced to read genres that they have tried and do not like serves no purpose but to turn kids off of reading altogether. They will read what they have to to get their "points" but if reading becomes a chore, kids will never learn to read for pleasure. And that, my dear children, is a very sad thing.

I recently picked out a book I thought my nine year old would like. She looked me in the eye and told me flat out, "I can't read that, it won't count."  It won't count?  Are you kidding me?  It wasn't in the genre she was assigned and therefore she wasn't going to read it because she would not get credit for it. I asked her, "Can't you do a book report on it?" She looked at me like I was from outer space. It was clear that she had no idea what a book report was. I am not a teacher, and I am not here to tell them how to do their jobs, but I say let the children read. If they have read at least one book in the genre assigned and finished it and have voiced their opinions that they don't like that kind of book, by all means, let them find a book that interests them. Let them read for reading's sake, and, guess what? If you let them do book reports, you'll find out exactly how they feel about a story, which is far more interesting than five questions on a standard test. Don't you agree?

Nurture a love of a good story by reading your kids "Why Did It Have To Rain Today?" Available in paperback and kindle on


  1. Don't remember book reports at my (UK) school, but what you are saying makes an awful lot of sense. And I think you've got some great illustrations there in that book. Hope it sells thousands of copies!

    1. Thank you, Hugh. Not only did we have to do book reports, we had to read them out loud to the class. We learned how to write a cohesive report, plus we were taught to speak in public which is another way our schools are lacking. In my opinion, of course.

  2. I didn't fall in love with book until I was in Jr. high.

    My English teacher made up work station where you could chose your own type of reading material, be it a comic book, illustrated classic or a chapter book. Then you filled out a paper and turned it in for points for you grade.

    It worked. I'm not only a reader but I'm also a writer.


  3. I was a genius at writing book reports from cliffnotes versions of books.

  4. Even before I became the official 'educator in life' (home-school parent)of my daughters I had them writing book reports. Started with the early readers and from then on. I used to be really anal. Before they could write I would take dictation. I taped the reports inside the book so they could see it years later. Still have them, lol. The girls tested really well in reading once they entered school.