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Would you Force your 10 year old to read or be read to?

1866 Views 54 Replies 32 Participants Last post by  m&m
My son just turned 10 and absolutely HATES reading. He hates to read, and he hates to be read to. I try and find ways of sneaking it in... but he's pretty smart. He has comic books, and magazines that pertain to his interests but he basically just looks at the pictures. He did mention he wanted a pen pal.. so I am actively looking into that. It is very hard to help him learn about anything without reading!

I decided that I am going to force him to listen to me read. I told him he could play with magnets, or color, or do building blocks, but he has to listen. I also told him I wouldnt test him or ask him any questions or anything. (i just pulled him out of the middle of 4th grade public school and he is used to being tested on reading) I picked out the book 'Hatchet' and told him it was a favorite of mine when I was young and I wanted to share the story with him. I told him we would read 30 minutes a day. Would you do this to your kid? The whole 30 min. he kept interupting me.. 'has it been thirty mins. yet?' ugh. I *think* secretly he really liked it though. But, Im not sure.
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I would look into why he hates reading so much. Is there a learning disability of some sort or just the negative association of the tests he used to take? I think reading to him is a great idea- maybe set a timer so he doesn't interrupt. I'm an education major right now and one assignment was to make an 'environmental print' game to help kids with reading. You know, take logos and words of things they see every day and use those to create learning/reading experiences.

I do think reading is very, very important.
If you just pulled him out of school, I'd give him some time to "deschool" before you start forcing anything resembling "learning" on him. Probably reading still has that test stigma attached to it for him. I would back off for a couple months and then reassess if he is still showing no interest in reading anything.

Originally Posted by lckrause
If you just pulled him out of school, I'd give him some time to "deschool" before you start forcing anything resembling "learning" on him. Probably reading still has that test stigma attached to it for him. I would back off for a couple months and then reassess if he is still showing no interest in reading anything.
: Also, don't rescue him from boredom too much this summer. Consider limiting TV/Videos, and let him find something to do. He may not choose reading -- so be it. But if he is bored and doesn't have the engergy to go outside, he just may pick up a book. Leave some reading material that you think he may find interesting in the bathroom. Maybe an article from the internet with very few pictures, but an attention-grabbing headline. Resist the urge to ask him if he saw it.

Of course ruling out a learning disability is important, as shelbean said. Do his former teachers have any thoughts about that? If not, I guess I might hold off on new testing since he is so resistant right now. If he doesn't come around after some de-schooling, *then* I would consider testing for LDs.
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Does he get to choose his own books? I agree with all the ideas above, but also maybe having a "reading time" for 10 minutes a day where you all read quietly, and he can choose whatever it is he wants.
I pulled my dd8 from a gifted school a few months ago. Reading was such a huge focus that she now hates to read (and she taught herself to read at 3!). I have and will never force her to read or sit and listen to me read. I tried implementing a reading time when we first started homeschooling but after a few weeks she just lost interest. We unschool now and I don't even bring the subject up. Our home is filled with lots of books, magazines, etc. that are there when she's ready. Last week she decided she wanted to read something and chose a chapter book (on her reading level). Then said it could be one we could read together (we alternate reading pages aloud) and then she picked out A Little Princess to read while waiting for dance class to begin. Then this morning she found The Prince and the Pauper and read a few pages.

I believe that she since she knows she is not being forced to read (after being so in schol for years), and since I don't bring it up, she feels comfortable enough now to give in to curiosity about reading and not have a big test or boring vocabulary words to write hanging over her head. I also don't believe rewarding her for reading is a good idea (not that you said that, but I just thought of it). I think it takes away the joy and love of it.

So my opinion is to let him be. One day he will want to maybe build something and have to read the manual, or find online instructions he has to read. Buying a cool magazine (geared toward his age) and leaving it on the table for him to "happen across" might get him reading, too. A really awesome thing I tried a few times was watching a foreign movie so we'd have to read the subtitles (it was a kid's movie in Japanese). I have even muted the tv and turned on the closed captions. Hey reading is reading! LOL!
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To answer the OPs question, yes, I would force my 10yo to read or be read to if necessary. Of course, my kids aren't deschooling or anything -they've never been to school. My almost-8yo is the one who isn't thrilled with reading, but he doesnt mind being read to and doesn't resist too much my regular practice sessions with him. But I do insist.
No I would not force. In my opinion forcing sets the stage for Kid vs Parent, and I don't feel that would get us anywhere positive.

I would encourage reading. I would model reading. I would discuss the benefits of reading, and try to find out his reasons for not enjoying it. I would make sure he knew that I was there for him if he ever needed any help with anything to do with reading. But I would not force.
Maybe you have tried all of these things before, but this is what we librarians suggest for "reluctant readers":
*Gross books - captain underpants, grossology science books, lots more
*Comic books - as you suggested. I love comic books even today (has anyone read Persepolis?!)
*Books on Tape - different topics, age levels
*Nonfiction on topics they're interested in - even if they're just looking at pictures, at some point they won't. Chess. Basketball stars. Boogers. Weird insects. Pro Wrestling. Whatever.
*The ALA booklist for reluctant readers (go on their website or PM me if you can't find it).

It is a very, very common issue for this age of young man. We have many concerned parents coming in to the library with a sullen son who will reject everything I suggest while looking at their parent. It frequently appears to become a power/control issue between child and parent. So, if you can, follow whatever interest he has (penpals, magazines), but do not seem VERY excited about it, be somewhat laid back...don't separate "good books" from "trash." Not that you sound like the kind of person to do this. I do think that it probably has a lot to do with perfomance anxiety (which reading group are you in - the dumb one "snails" or smart one "rockets"?) and really boring books being pushed on kids in classrooms. Silas Marner noooooo....

So don't worry too much about the problem, be relaxed, but keep introducing things. I don't think read aloud is a bad idea necessarily; but you might try a book on tape in the car to decrease the interpersonal issues. Particularly if you are reconnecting and finding a new way to school at the same time? I imagine there is a "decompression" as someone else stated and needing to find a very positive interpersonal place to start from...

You could also stop TV/Video games and see if the interest picked up. I know this was true for my daughter. Attention span and whatnot. She is a lot younger than yours though.
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Thank you so much to everyone who has responded so far. Just a few more things... He has been out of school for about 3 months now, and I am planning on using the rest of the summer for down time before I start offering any 'school type stuff'. I think the reason he hates to read is simply because he doesnt like to sit. (except when he is watching tv or playing video games
) Even if I waited a year or two for him to deschool, I dont think he would voluntarily read. Anyway, I will look up the list loraeileen pointed out. I would love to hear anyone else's opinion as well. I just feel split with this issue and I hate being on the fence about it. I guess Im gonna go with my gut and keep reading to him the 30 minutes a day until this book is over. Hopefully, he will start to like spending the time with me. And at the end of the book when I dont ask him any questions maybe he might think of the story as a cool story, and not stress over it.
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Here is a centralized location for all those lists (ALA quick picks for reluctant readers)

If you are a person who is concerned about content, I would take a look at the books first, because they are all chosen due to how exciting/grabby/fun they are, not intellectual content or moral fortitude. However, I used to tell parents...if they're at home on a Saturday night reading about it, they're probably not out there doing it...much safer!

This one looks fun for a kid who likes TV and movies:
Heimberg, Jason and Justin Heimberg. The Official Movie Plot Generator: 27,000 Hilarious Movie Plot Combinations. $16.45. Brothers Heimberg Publishing, 2004. 0-9740439-1-5
I agree with the others about letting him be.

Dd has been out of PS for almost a year and still doesn't like to read very much, even though she can read just fine, but she did start asking me to read to her a few months ago. She was pushed so much in school that she came out hating reading and just about everything else (academic) about school. I sometimes have to remind myself that it will take time for her to rediscover the joys of reading. No matter how much I encourage her and tell her (and show her) how wonderful reading is, it will only come in her own time.

Someone's signature here at MDC sticks with me: "Childhood is a journey, not a race". Isn't it so much more important that they enjoy the journey, and come away from childhood with a self-motivated love of learning, rather than forced learning that they can't wait to break free from? (I'm talking to myself too here
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I would at least force the being read to. and I would probably force some reading time each day. we do a more structured schooling so at least reading instructions etc. . . but definietly being read to. BUt I would let him puick the bokos/jenre and actively search for somethign he is intrested in.
Would I force reading? Perhaps. Depending. I don't know. But I don't think I agree with the approach in the OP.

Insisting on listening to a book for an arbitrary amount of time (30 minutes daily), seems kinda...arbitrary to me. As you saw, it became more about the minutes left, than the actual story or experience..

If you want to insist on story time, maybe what you could do, is ask him what story he wants to read, and ask him how much he thinks would be a reasonable amount. Finish a chapter? Two chapters? Start with one, and maybe continue if he's really into it?
Here's a good website to check-out. I just heard Jon Sciezka on the CBC (radio) the other day and learned about how common it is for young boys to hate reading. He had a lot of good ideas. I haven't thoroughly looked through the website yet as it is not immediately pertinent to my situation. But it may be of some help.
FWIW Comic books are awsome!! If he finds one interesting enough, he will want to read it.

From the website:
A lot of boys aren't too crazy about reading

I grew up with five brothers. I taught elementary school for ten years. I've been writing books for kids for fifteen years. And I think I have an idea why boys might not like reading.

Boys often have to read books they don't really like. They don't get to choose what they want to read. And what they do like to read, people sometimes tell them is not really reading.

Good Luck
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Books on tape are almost an obsession around here. We don't do tv , video games maybe a few times a month for the younger boys. My older sons just picked up the habit at 13/15, but it's only a few hours a week at most. I would be afraid of reading reluctance if they did have free access to tv and video games, but I may be assuming a corelation. Maybe a greater corelation is school attendance? I would let it rest a short while and have stuff available. Then I might assign reading time with free choice of topic and reading related to topical studies that really engage your child.
with just being out of school for three months, he may still not have a great attitude - so wait on pushing things I would say.

I have pushed my children to choose something to read or have given them options.... even if it is a comic book.. But now my eleven year old is an exceptional reader, so I do try to push him a bit out of his comfort zone every now and then, I don't think it is a bad thing....

My almost seven year old is just reading, and Calvin and Hobbes does the trick with him
or occasionally astronomy books.

Definitely read aloud - let him do legos, draw, or something while he is listening and I second the recommendation for books on tape - excellent!

Warm wishes,
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oh oh!! geez. Can I change my answer? If the OP's son has only been out of school 3 months, I vote for NO forcing of any book-related things at all.

Maybe I already made that clear, but I was thinking of a different type of situation where the child hadn't been schooled, just wasn't interested, had been encouraged in all the very creative ways listed above, and still no luck.

has anyone mentioned jon scieska's website? I doubt I spelled that right. He's got a great site... hang on.

ok, edited bc i don't read closely and i notice someone mentioned it already.

and here's an interview with jon
My crew have a set amount of time each day they have to pick a book and read. We usually have a minimum of thirty minutes for the older two and we will be starting Zachary on 15-20 minutes this summer. My crew is fairly good about reading. They may complain initially about it, but once they get going they don't mind reading. As far as the reading to them. My husband reads every night at bedtime to them. Our oldest, Seth, is going to be ten in a week and a half. After dad reads to them at bedtime he is allowed to stay up until 9 and read to himself. He figures he is getting a treat for staying up past bedtime and we are happy because he is reading. I also think it is important to figure out what kinds of books they are interested in reading. Seth loves sci fi (Knights of the Silver Dragon, Deltora Quest), scary (Goosebumps), and loves comic books. Madison is reading the Pixie Tricks series, Fairy Realm series, and anything with dogs or horses. Zachary is just starting and seems to like Magic Tree House series. We go to the bookstore frequently and I let them look through the books so they can figure out new ones to try.
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When we pulled ds out of the middle of 3rd grade, he was like this. (Well, except that he did like to be read to.)

He did not want to read to himself and absolutely refused to read anything aloud. It took a very, very long time for him to deschool. I was really concerned at first, and would cringe whenever I heard him say, "I hate reading." I'm a real bookworm myself and as it turned out, his younger sister (who learned to read on her own rather than in school) was reading tons more and quickly passed him up as far as reading ability went. I was very concerned that he'd never be a reader.

I made myself notice though, when he WAS reading--the video games he liked at that time required a lot of reading, and while he sometimes needed help with it, his motivation was high and eventually, I noticed that he'd stopped asking me, "What's this word?" so much. When the tv was on, I'd put the closed captioning on, figuring it couldn't hurt. He liked the internet and of course, needed to read there. We'd play board games that required reading.

Most important of all though, was that I not make an issue of the reading. I didn't point out that he was reading, or even tell him that he was doing a good job. If his sister was around, I had to be very careful that he wasn't in a position to be "outdone" by her because he was very self-conscious about the fact that she was such a fluent reader.

He did like to be read to, and sometimes I'd do the reading and sometimes I'd just put a tape into the player and we'd go about our day. But I really believe that forcing the issue could backfire and he could end up hating reading for good. I mean, he had been forced to read in school and look where he was.

He did like comic books, so I made sure there were plenty of these around. I think at first he was just looking at the pictures, but then after a while he'd talk about the story line, so it became evident that he was reading them. He also read catalogues--he's always been really into Legos and would pour over the catalogue when it arrived. And he liked magazines and the Eyewitness books (they're heavy on photos with small captions--much easier for a struggling reader to take on than a page full of text.) After some time of just this type of reading, he discovered the "Bionicle" series of books--hardly great literature, and a very easy beginning chapter book, but it was a book, and he was very interested in it. I couldn't believe that he was doing this voluntarily, but finally, it had happened. He read the whole series and moved on to other books.

He recently read a fantasy/fiction book about dragons/knights (I can't remember the title) but it was a very thick book and I was shocked that the size of it didn't deter him. But he read it and loved it and came and told me a lot about it. He doesn't read nearly as much as his sister does, and he still prefers to listen to books read aloud, and hates to read aloud himself, but he reads and understands what he's read, and enjoys it. That he find enjoyment in reading was my #1 concern.

If you really are intent on forcing the read aloud time, maybe you could negotiate the amount of time with him? Maybe cut it to 10 min. at first? Or ask him what he thinks is a reasonable amount of time? Or just agree to stop reading when he's had enough? (It might be 5 min. one day and 30 the next.) I don't think you're going to get anywhere if he's focused on counting the minutes until you stop reading, yk? Repeatedly being forced to do something one hates doesn't usually result in one learning to love the activity.
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