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Is it possible that parents keep their kids from developing a love of books?

January 4, 2012

Here’s a dilemma for you: Books seem to be fading into the background of childhood as kids spend time with computers, tablets, smartphones, and in front of the TV. But maybe there’s another reason they aren’t interested in books: Their parents won’t let them choose what they want to read. In this article from the Guardian, Book Publishing Report publisher Michael Norris claims that his research shows that parents turn kids off of books because they insist on choosing which books their kids can and can’t read.

Norris, who is editor of the Book Publishing Report, urges parents not to give up on books. The results of a number of surveys Norris has carried out with hundreds of American booksellers over the past year have provided the basis for a series of tips for parents designed to help children find enjoyment in books. First, he argues, reading should never be described with “work words” which make it seem like a chore. Too many families, Norris suggests, have fallen into the trap of stereotyping reading as a “good” activity and digital or online game playing as “bad”. Instead, it is important to let reading become associated with pleasure and achievement, just as game playing is.

CLiF’s Duncan McDougall has been working with young readers in New Hampshire and Vermont, and makes a similar point in a recent op-ed he wrote about summer reading lists: Let kids choose their own books and they won’t see summer reading as work. The article ran in the Rutland Herald, Times Argus, and the Burlington Free Press. You can read it today on

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