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From Barnes & Noble
A Bonus Essay by Laura Bennett
Read to your children twenty minutes a day. It’s right up there with brushing teeth and eating vegetables. Spending these few moments together a day will foster a life long love of reading in your child. It sounds so easy, but the truth is my kids are more likely to voluntarily infect themselves with the swine flu than sit in my lap and have me read them a book. I know that they can read; they are mesmerized by the text on the box of Frosted Flakes while they eat their cereal, but they won’t look at a book.
This aversion to reading starts in my house at an early age. I gather my little ones together to sit down and read a book but three pages into it my tiny vessels of testosterone start ripping the pages out. In further protest, they grab it out of my hands and use it to bonk me over the head before they run away. Our copy of Good Night Moon is so battered and taped back together that the title now reads Moon God Tonigh.
I loved reading as a child. In the third grade I was transfixed by The Boxcar Children series. I would sit inside my own boxcar, a refrigerator crate, and read volume after volume. My third grader has a homework chart to fill in each evening showing that he has read for thirty minutes. We spend at least that much time debating whether or not the commands at the bottom of the World of Warcraft screen qualify as reading time.
As my oldest boy entered eighth grade, I was sure there would be a turn around. This is when you really get to the good stuff. What teenaged boy wouldn’t love Holden Caulfield’s profane adventures in Catcher in the Rye or identify with the parental rebellion in Romeo and Juliet? But he showed no interest and as the deadlines loomed I was eventually confronted with, “Mom, can’t you just get me the movie?”
The unfortunate truth is it’s easy for them to do the homework assignments without reading the books. If I chose to skip a reading assignment, I would have to trick my mother into driving me to the mall and spend hard earned babysitting money on bumble-bee colored Cliff Notes. My kids need only cozy up to the nearest computer, log on to the Internet, and have instant free access to a plethora of chapter summaries.
It’s not as though they don’t understand or enjoy the content of books. After debating whether it’s a man or a woman speaking, they laugh hysterically at the audio books of David Sedaris we listen to in the car, or wax on about how the Twilight series is an analogy for sexual abstinence, they just have an aversion to the written word in the form of books. Surprisingly, my non-readers can even write. My son recently applied for high school and had to write a series of essays. They were very well received and noted for their “original voice.” Of course the voice was original, with the exception of Tony the Tiger he’s never read enough of anyone else’s voice to even attempt to steal from them.
I will not give up. Armed with Scotch tape, I will continue to offer to read aloud. I will continue to surround my boys with books in the hopes that one day they will find that magic story that compels them to sit in a cardboard box and be transformed into readers. In the mean time, do the commands on World of Warcraft qualify as reading time?