How My Children Lost the Love of Reading
” We are determined that the children shall love books, therefore we do not interpose ourselves between the book and the child. ”
Charlotte Mason, Parents and Children
Let me back up a moment and explain.
As babies, I read to my sweet children all the books I could find. Their libraries were full of classics and modern twists on the classics before they were even out of the womb. I was convinced that they would love literature as much as I always had.
And, they did. They read voraciously.
As soon as they could read on their own, they each begged for longer and more interesting books. And so, when my oldest (who could barely read) began to read The Chronicles of Narnia, I knew I had cultivated the proper love of reading in my home.
And then they started school.
Not homeschool. Traditional school.
When he was 6, my son set off for school with his brand-new Power Rangers backpack prepared to soak in all the knowledge his little brain could hold. His teacher assigned book readings every night. He quickly read those and moved onto books he wanted to read “for fun.” We were a happy, contented, literature-loving family -- until those “fun books” became an assignment.
All of a sudden reading became just another assignment. One that was graded for comprehension based on what the teacher or the testing program deemed was the most essential part of the story –- like the year, or the location, or the author’s name. Being tested over the details of his beloved stories, my son started to lose his love of reading for fun and began to read for specific details he thought he might be tested on the next day.
Perhaps, I could have believed that this was just a young boy who had discovered sports were more exciting than literature (and honestly, I did for a time). But, my next child developed the same “symptoms” in early elementary until she was crying over having to read and reciting to me the page numbers she had read that day.
It took several years, but I finally realized that reading assignments had destroyed my children’s love of reading.