1. I knew people like this in my homeschool group growing up. I always wondered how their kids turned out.
    Also, this describes the first couple of chapters of Understood Betsy. The rest of the book deals with how the normal half of her family deprogrammed her. It’s not speculative, but it’s a lovely old book.

  2. Marion says:

    This is an excellent article.  I’m a parent of 10 year old son and a 3 year old daughter and I’m always concerned with the diminished role of reading in our culture.
    With the tablets, iPods, iPads, Xbox etc…..it seems the love of reading is being pushed further into the background as a source of entertainment and enjoyment. 
    An article like this one is a good wake-up call for its relevance.

  3. Yup, I knew people like this too. The one girl I know from such a family grew up and found her own path – she and her hubby love all things scifi and fantasy and want to go to ComicCon now – but back when I first met her (I believe she was 18 or 19) she wasn’t allowed to read anything fantastical (or else, IIRC, was just being allowed to read a little bit of the more strict stuff.) 
    Me, I didn’t need to be taught to love reading… it just happened. XD Might be because I discovered books as another world when mine was pretty lonely. That, and books are a wonderful way of absorbing information when parents don’t have all the answers. The story goes in my family that my mom taught my brother to read so that he would stop asking her ‘why’ and ‘how’. XD 

  4. […] this context, you can imagine my delight upon reading E. Stephen Burnett’s “How to Ruin Your Child’s Reading.” Burnett provides five easy steps to destroy a child’s love of literature by sucking all […]

  5. D.M. Dutcher says:

    Be careful with #4. Not many kids really care about the craft or skill in books depending on the age, and many become lifelong readers on a diet of things most people would turn their noses up at. Your boy may not be able to stand Harry Potter but he will devour Matt Christopher’s sports books, or your girl will be bored to tears by The Secret Garden, yet beg you for stacks of books about ponies. 
    If anything, a lot of the well-crafted books often are neglected by kids. Most recent Newberry Award winners are a good example: has anyone really ever heard of a kid that likes Neil Gaiman’s the Graveyard Book? But a lot seem to love Percy Jackson or Darren Shan.
    This isn’t an argument for low quality in books, but I think the common thread in all these problems is trying to control reading in order to deliver a specific result. The idea isn’t to make a love of reading, as opposed to make reading a tool to deliver a well-behaved, moral child. Ironically, the best way to get a child to read in my opinion is to make him own the act and encourage his agency. Let him choose what books he reads and buys within limits, and he will see reading as a way to express his autonomy. This was why libraries are so valuable: the child can get his own books, and there’s even stealth morality and good habit forming in needing to be a proper borrower.

  6. Galadriel says:

    My parents didn’t restrict my reading to any genre, but I know my sci-fi side really bloomed once I hit college and had access to things like Doctor Who, Firefly, Terry Prachett, and Neil Gaiman.

  7. Joanna says:

    So my parents really tried — they really did — to teach me to appreciate the moral lessons to be gleaned from books,  to avoid over dosing on more suspect books, and to avoid like the plague such off limits as Harry Potter.
    After observing the way me and my siblings devoured the Redwall books, we were limited to one a month (Do you know how long a month is to a 10-year-old? :D)
    But it all came to not, and I loved reading anyway…. I just had to work out of my legalistic lofty place from where I looked down on books, sifting them for Good Lessons.
    My older brother, however, quickly dispensed of fiction in general, settling for non-fiction and books about mechanical things. I wonder how much is due to the reasons above, and how much is just the way he thinks — he’s an engineer now. 😀

What do you think?