Negative Influences and Reading as a Chore

This is post #3 in the series “When Children–and Adults Too–Hate Reading”

Do you have people in your family–children or adults alike–who “hate reading” because they’ve been told by others that reading is stupid or a waste of time?  Or they think of reading as a chore or punishment rather than an enjoyable activity? This post is for you! Here are some solutions for your “reading haters.” Let’s make reading fun!

Influence of family and peers who dislike reading or think it isn’t a priority:

  • Unfortunately, peer pressure–or even family pressure from other family members who don’t think reading is a priority (often these are people who have reading struggles themselves and this is a way they handle their own issues)–can cause children (and adults) to “hate reading.”
  • Boys are sometimes pressured to do “manly” things, such as sports, mechanics, and so on.
  • Meanwhile, girls are sometimes told that education (including reading) is not necessary because their place is in the home, taking care of the children, cleaning, cooking, etc. We may think that this is a thing of the past, but there are still groups who hold to this philosophy.
  • Discouraging children (and adults!) from reading can also be a control issue, as education (and especially reading) may be seen as leading them to learn about topics and pursue interests that those in control in their lives do not want them involved with.
  • At school, students who are “academically inclined” may be scorned as “nerds” while activities such as sports are often held up by both school and society as more important and more successful. In some schools and other groups, academic success (including reading) is seen almost as being traitorous to the group.
  • What to do? In these situations, it is really important for the family or significant others to model the daily enjoyment and adventure of life-long learning (which very much involves reading, of course) in order to overcome these other pressures. If the pressure is coming from within the family, children can become involved in activities such as Scouts or Guides, or other clubs and lessons in which they will meet children who are more interested in learning, and where reading is an important part of enjoyable and adventurous activities. The same is true for adults–there are many great activities that involve reading!

Being forced to read, as a chore or a disciplinary activity rather than as enjoyment and adventure:

  • Don’t “demand” reading: Sitting a child (or adult) down in a hard-backed chair, shoving a boring “academic” book into their hands, and demanding that they sit still and read for an hour or two while their friends are outside playing, or while their absolute favourite TV program is on–or worse yet, as a punishment for some infraction–has probably led to a great many “haters of reading.” While this approach is probably not as common as it used to be, it still happens. And for adults who grew up with it, reading may be something they simply run from as fast as they can.
  • Instead, present reading as an enjoyable, lifelong adventure. The world of books and other reading materials opens up whole new worlds! Ideas:
    • Take advantage of a person’s passions and interests, and use those as motivators for reading.
    • Integrate bits of reading into other activities that a person enjoys.
    • After watching a TV program on nature or forensics or whatever the topic is, discuss what was viewed, come up with some questions, and do some reading research on the topic.
    • Instead of buying ready-made furniture, make your own from scratch or at least visit IKEA-type locations, and then use books or instruction sheets to construct the furniture.
    • Use cookbooks to bake cool birthday cakes or special meals from scratch rather than picking up pizza or sticking pre-made frozen dinners in the oven.
    • Get gardening books, construct some simple garden beds, and raise your own veggies, fruit and flowers.
  • The world is full of so many adventures, and reading can be–should be–a part of all of them.

Do you have tips or anecdotes related to encouraging non-readers to become avid readers? We’d love to have you share them in the comments! Thank you!

Check out all the posts in this series, “When Children–and Adults Too–Hate Reading”:

Model Reading and Read Aloud
Distractions and Health Issues
Negative Influences and Reading as a Chore
Poor Methods of Teaching Reading
Lack of Reading Materials and Negative Attitudes
Dyslexia and Other Learning Differences
Practical Tips to Encourage Reading

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