How to Kill the Love of Reading in One Simple Step

After reading my book Simply Too Much Homework, Lisa wrote the following Letter to the Editor of her local paper. She was angry that she had to spend her evenings accommodating homework rather than spending time with her children after a stressful day at work.

“Required reading every night has destroyed Becky’s natural affection for reading and now she rarely picks up books voluntarily. I can’t think of anything valuable coming from the never-ending homework/reading drill. School has no right to force my family to do anything while we’re home. Homework is not a part of my job as a parent. We can do next to nothing together as a family during the week.”

Reading progress is impeded when we make reading a burden by insisting that parents spend 20 minutes a day practicing with their child. When there is more than one child this is often impossible because it is in addition to the homework assignments.

A passage from a book, How to increase Reading Ability, first published in 1942, expresses my belief around reading homework better than I can.

“You should not impose reading homework on poor readers. At the start of a remedial program it is advisable not to suggest any home reading. One should wait until the child shows that he is gaining confidence in his reading and finds that he can get some pleasure from it. Then one can suggest that he might like to do some reading between lessons.”

Another parent told me that he said, “Get over here and do this reading so we can get on with our day!” That certainly wasn’t developing an interest in or love of reading.

When I taught grade one I sent books home with children for their parents to read to them. I asked the parents not to have their child read to them until he or she volunteered that they wanted to read aloud. Then it was a positive experience because they only ventured out when they had the confidence that they could do it. Anything you do at home that sheds negative thoughts about reading is a barrier to success. Be very careful how you talk about and treat reading with your children.

You can check out my article in Medium on reading practice.

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