My coworker Cathy send me this link from Care2.com, and the opening paragraph actually, physically hurt my heart:
A new survey sponsored by the National Literacy Trust uncovered some interesting facts about kids’ relationships with books: while 50 percent of kids say that they “enjoy reading very much or quite a lot,” only 30 percent of kids read daily outside of school, and nearly 20 percent say that they would be embarrassed if a friend or classmate were to see them reading a book on their own time (National Literacy Trust).
I have to ask: what’s so embarrassing about books?
If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably already on Team Book, but let’s all think back to when we were kids. Did anyone ever make fun of you for reading? What did that feel like? Did it alter your reading habits at all, either positively or negatively? And what should we be doing — what can we do — about kids who feel this way, about kids who are made to feel bad about themselves for reading?
I grew up in a family of mostly non-readers, where my twin sister and I would sneak Baby-sitters Club
books at the dinner table. And yet, my family fostered a culture of reading
. They knew that reading was helping us in school, and that it would continue to help us in life, and they did everything they could to encourage us — and, in turn, grew to love reading more themselves. (It’s funny how reading is circular like that!)
Creating and celebrating that kind of culture, one where families are supportive of their kids’ reading habits, is hugely important as we work to counter this idea that reading is embarrassing. Another way, Care2.com
suggests, is by making books cool again
. But how do we do that?
I think that’s where series like The 39 Clues
and Infinity Ring
come in — they’re great stories, sure. But they’ve also got extra elements to them that help attract kids who might not otherwise care. And that’s our job — not just here at Scholastic, but as parents, as educators, as citizens of the world. We’re here to get kids to learn to read and love to read, because, as we always say, reading is the key to leading a better life
— now more than ever.
I’d love to hear about any experiences you had when it comes to feeling embarrassing about reading. Please share your stories in the comments!