It’s almost Valentine’s Day and love is in the air. Students around the country are anticipating exchanging homemade Valentine’s Day cards and sharing candy hearts with one another. From an early age we instill the joy of Valentine’s Day in children. But why is it that we shy away from encouraging children to read romance titles? Is it because we think love is too complicated for children to understand or do we think books involving romance are too provocative?
According to Jeffery Wilhelm and Michael Smith, authors of Reading Unbound: Why Kids Need to Read What They Want – and Why We Should Let Them, letting children explore the genre of romance can actually help them figure out life’s challenges.
During a recent presentation by Jeffery and Michael, Jeffery explained how he used to be one of those parents who didn’t like his daughter reading romance books. Through a number of conversations with his daughter, he began to realize that in reading these romance books she was actually learning lessons about relationships and was able to reference those lessons for situations that may arise in her own life.
In Reading Unbound, Michael and Jeffery reference the research of Janice A. Radway. In her book, Reading the Romance (1998) Janice sites, “some romance reading at least manages to help women address and even minimally transform the conditions of their daily existence” (p. 8). Meaning, readers generally use texts to change their own lives. Often times when people read romance they are able to use the characters experience to create a new outcome for their own lives.
So this Valentine’s Day, let your child read a romantic book, or better yet, read it with them. Who knows it might help them (and you) overcome a future challenge.