I can’t tell you how many times I have read books I don’t like. A thousand? Maybe. So why do I keep doing it? Because my kids’ taste in books doesn’t always line up with mine. It’s not just books. I don’t like boxed mac and cheese and frankly don’t find fart jokes very funny either. Because I’m not a kid. I don’t fill my kids’ days with books I don’t like, but I don’t ban them or complain and belittle them either. I hear a lot of complaining about potty humor and character books from parents, and while I won’t tell you how to raise your kids, I can explain and share how I do.
When my child sees a book at Costco or Barnes and Noble and runs up to me with glee, the last thing I want to do is make a stink face and say ” No no we aren’t buying that, go find a real book.” I may be saying that in my head, but I keep it in because they are excited about a book! Reading is a non-negotiable, kids have to learn to read, our role as parents is to make reading a fun daily activity. Reading about their favorite characters ( or potty humor) makes it fun. When we belittle their choices we aren’t building their confidence; we are stripping it down. Confidence is a big part of reading and kids need it to learn, I don’t want to jeopardize that by making my kids feel like something is wrong or shameful about the books they like. I may be able to read literature but is that what I read for fun? Sometimes, but I also read magazines, YA novels, and TMZ. Not exactly the perfect reading choices, but I’m reading and loving it.
So characters and potty humor all day?
No way. I’m still the mama, and I still buy the books. Just like boxed mac and cheese and fart jokes, I have good reasons for not loving some books. Sure I am not a huge Pokemon or princess fan ( although Merida is rad), but my bigger issue is how poorly most character books are written. The plot is usually overly simplistic, and the books feel thrown together. Potty humor might be fun but too much of it, and my kids’ lose all ability to have a polite conversation. It’s all about balance.While I allow these books and do my best not to roll my eyes while reading them, I make sure to read many wonderful books with my kids as well. Books that boost their vocabulary, books that make them connect ideas inside the book to their life, and books that help teach them values I want them to learn.
Reading should be fun, and kids should have some autonomy about what they read. According to Scholastic’s Report On Reading, 91% of kids reported that their favorites books are ones they picked out themselves. I wouldn’t choose a Disney Princess or a Pokemon book as a favorite but both my kids have at different times, and I was OK with that because they had a favorite book that made them love reading.
You can’t teach your child to love reading; you can only help foster it. If it takes princesses and fart jokes to help me make my kids fall in love with reading, so be it.
That’s why I let my kids read books I don’t like.