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      Dec 07, 2017

Are you teaching your child NOT to read for fun?

NOT to read for fun

We all know how important it is for our children to learn to read. We buy endless ABC books, teach them phonics and force feed them the latest reading schemes but, in our attempts to instill knowledge into their pretty little heads, are we teaching them NOT to read for fun?

First, a look at ‘guilty parent syndrome’.

Is doing things for fun, bad?

blaze and the monster machinesMy grandson loves watching Blaze and the Monster Machines on the TV. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of watching, Blaze is a monster truck who races round Axle City. Now, my grandson isn’t allowed to watch much television but his mum says she doesn’t feel so bad letting him watch Blaze battling it out with arch-rival, Crusher, because “it’s billed as the first TV show for preschoolers to comprehensively cover areas of science, technology, engineering and math.”

And cover them, it does. With story lines and songs about ‘inertia’, ‘potential energy’ and ‘buoyancy’, Blaze has certainly taught me some STEM concepts (not sure about my grandson).

But why do we feel better about our children watching something that pertains to be teaching them something rather than just watching something for fun?

Do you always watch programs that are teaching you something?

Do you screen reruns of Stephen Hawking Lectures or Open University broadcasts?

I thought not.

And if we can do something ‘just for fun’, why can’t our children?

Back to reading.

What’s the educational angle?

That was the question someone asked me about my latest book project.

Because how was I going to market my story without the promise that my young readers would learn something?

How many parents would buy a book for their child to read simply for fun?

Of course we could argue that every story teaches our children something. After all it’s been shown that people who read have a heightened sense of empathy  – reading a story puts us in another person’s shoes. They teach us about other people’s feelings. But that isn’t what this person meant. They were concerned that without a the promise of learning something measurable my new book wouldn’t be saleable.

Parents might not want to restrict reading time like they do with television viewing but do they have time in their busy days for a book with no “educational value.” Will it bring on the same guilty parent syndrome?

And children are very perceptive. If you disapprove of the books your child chooses, they will know.

Are you teaching your child NOT to read for fun?

read for funI read a great post recently from Scholastic titled “Raise Children Who Read for Fun.” The fourth part of their ten-step plan was ‘Let the choose what they read.’

When they are young that could mean reading “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” a thousand times. As they get older, it means don’t insist on sticking with the reading schemes they get sent home from school with. Get them a library card and let them pick books that interest them (even if they don’t interest you). A child who has an interest in the content of a book will be more likely to read for fun.

So, what do you think. Is all our worrying about children learning teaching your child NOT to read for fun? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Suzie xx bloggers bluff

P.S. This week I’ve been featured on Bloggers Bluff over on the blog of Lucy at Home.

I’ve shared three little-known facts about myself; two are true, one is a lie. Can you tell which one is the bluff?

Head over and have a guess.

The answer will be revealed next week.



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  • sarahbel

    I had a wonderful english teacher who used to dedicate entire lessons to suggesting books to read – these were everything from ‘bubble gum literature’ (her terminology) like sweet valley high to the reading list worthies. The theory was if we read regularly it creates a habit and once the habit is established then you can slip in some heavier literature seamlessly. Worked with me! I’m such a bookworm, I love reading and went on to study english at uni. I think any reading is a plus. Great post! #picknmix

    • suz

      Wow, I like the sound of your English teacher and it seems like her strategy worked on you.
      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  • Great post Suzie. Thought provoking … we are always talking about learning being FUN at school (and the children are more engaged). I love your analogy of relating it back to us as adults and what we do for fun (although I guess you could argue that we are learning about social skills and relating to the wider world in TV programmes …).

    • suz

      Yes, the argument about social skill certainly holds true for books too but somehow we don’t place as much emphasis on this type of knowledge.
      It’s not easy to make school fun when you have such a mix of children with different likes and needs and it’s certainly not practical to have a reading scheme on every topic to interest every child. I have to admit we didn’t read many of the books my son brought home from school but he would quite happily read other things. Wonder if his teacher ever figured that out? She never said anything, if she did lol.

      • To be honest we don’t mind what a child reads as long as they do – reading records are checked every week for parent signatures. Quite a few children are free readers these days and it is fine if a child wants to read something different. I have the Rapid Reading scheme for my vulnerable learners and they all love them. It’s the only reading scheme that’s lasted this long 🙂 For reluctant readers I always promote magazines as a way to enrich vocab and have fun . I always love to hear when families are visiting libraries too!

  • Kathleen Jowitt

    Excellent points all – and I think that this is a problem that extends far beyond the pre-school years. People are very ready to sneer at what others are reading, which can make the whole experience very joyless and put people off reading altogether. Live and let live, I say!

    • suz

      That’s a very good point. In my ‘other life’ I write YA, a genre which is read and enjoyed by people of all ages. However, anyone outside teen years can be derided for reading it, despite there being some really great writing in YA books.
      Thanks for joining the conversation 🙂

  • Becky Smith

    Yup. Forcing anything to be ‘educational’ – in the narrowest sense – often sucks the life out of it. The greatest kids’ books are rarely designed to ‘teach’, and certainly not to teach reading. (Dr Seuss is probably the only exception.) We can encourage kids to love reading by making sure they’ve got access to really great books, and by modelling our own love of reading. And then leaving them to get on with it!

    • suz

      Yes, the best way to get kids to enjoy reading is to enjoy it with them.
      Thanks for your comment 🙂

  • A mum track mind

    A really thought provoking post. Especially true once they go to school and HAVE to guided reading etc. It really takes the spontaneity and love out of literature. Learning how to read and spell is important but not the be all end all. Thanks for sharing this on #fortheloveofBLOG x

    • suz

      Oh yes, school can be a killer.
      Thanks for reading 🙂

  • I’m with you! I’m all for kids reading for fun. My 7yo is a really good reader and most of that is from reading the Beano (he also draws cartoons constantly – the Beano is his inspiration!). I suppose I could get all ‘oh but that’s not educational’ about it but the last thing I’d want to do is force him to read books that don’t interest him and make him go off reading all together. He also adores Tom Gates book – in fact anything with pictures he can copy. I think if you let kids pick their own books they learn so much more because it takes them in the direction that they’re motivated to go in. The reading matter my son chooses helps his artistic side as well as his ability to read! Thanks for linking to #WhatImWriting

    • suz

      It’s great that your son has found something that really interests him.
      Thanks for visiting again 🙂

  • I couldn’t agree with you more. When my boys were small they had a library card each and I let them choose which ever books they wanted to bring home with us to read, regardless of the topic or how long it would take to read. Or even if they were vaguely sensible – they rarely were. I used to love curling up reading with them. Thanks for linking up to #PicknMix

    Stevie 🙂

    • suz

      He he. I bet you had a great mix of reading matter.
      Great to see you again 🙂

  • Definitely reading for fun at home. And hopefully they will also enjoy the books that school select too #readwithme

    • suz

      I hope so too.
      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  • Laura

    This is a really thought-provoking post. My son is only 3 and has fun no matter what book we read but this is definitely something I need to keep in mind as he gets older xx #kltr

    • suz

      Sounds like he’s off to a great start 🙂
      Thanks for reading 🙂

  • Alice @ The Filling Glass

    Yes! I love reading but my girls got to a point where reading scheme books completely out them off and much to the disgust of their teachers we stopped reading them (or much else) until they found the desire to read and wanted to choose books themselves. And I just tried to model reading more (instead of just when they were in bed in the evening) for them too, to show adults enjoy reading. In the longer term a lot of learning happens through reading and I want them to be able to access that for themselves when they need so learning to read needs to be fun.

    • suz

      Oh, I hope they rediscover their love of reading soon. My son refused point blank to read his school reading books. After several weeks of fighting I ditched the school books and we read whatever he fancied. Keeping my fingers crossed for you.
      Thanks for your comment 🙂

  • Sophie Lovett

    I think children learn so much from reading things they enjoy – whatever that might be – it makes me sad to think of books being reduced to vessels of ‘measurable’ learning. That’s one of the motivating factors behind me not wanting to rush to get my son started on the school treadmill… He’s still only three, but he LOVES books – all sorts of things, depending on his mood. I’m keen to hold on to that for as long as we possibly can 🙂

    • suz

      Three is a great age. Long may he keep his love books.
      Thanks for joining the conversation 🙂

  • Marija Smits

    As a mother (and publisher) I see the very real magic that books bring to children most days. And I’m not in any way bothered about whether a book has an educational angle or not (actually, I prefer books that don’t specifically go down that route). I certainly encourage my children to read books that they enjoy, merely for the pleasure of it. But… I do admit that I’m guilty of conspiring with the school to teach my kids that reading is not fun, and yet another thing on the educational ‘to do’ list. The problem is that our school sends a lot of homework back for them – reading a certain amount and writing about what they’ve read afterwards – and I know that my daughter finds this a chore. I feel strongly that at 9 she shouldn’t be given so much homework, but also, I don’t ALWAYS want to be the nagging mum who goes in to school and says that my daughter shouldn’t do the homework, because a little bit of reading practise is good, I think. So we’re just trying our best to find some balance, and what will work for all of us in the long term. Thank you for your thought-provoking post, though. 🙂

    • suz

      One of my pet hates is the amount of homework that young children bring home. It compounds the ‘reading-is-not-fun’ problem. Good luck finding the right balance for you.
      Thank you for your comment 🙂

  • Angela Milnes

    I enjoyed this article and it really did make me stop and think. We read for fun last night and there is such a difference when its a homework reading book and when it’s something we do by choice. Thanks for linking up with #KLTR

    • suz

      Yes, there is a difference between reading for fun and homework. Once you realize this, you can begin to close the gap between the two.
      Great to see you on the blog 🙂

  • Laura

    I am a firm believer in reading for fun as an adult. I did an English degree and read to study for many years and now most of the reading I do is pretty much for fun and relaxation and I don’t think it matters as long as you’re ready. So I most definitely think children should just read it really does not have to be educational. Great post. Thanks for linking up to #kltr

    • suz

      Umm, I did English A level and that stopped me reading for years.
      Thanks for stopping by 🙂