#RaisingReaders Monday: Be Like The Cool Kids

Every year our elementary school holds a Read-A-Thon to encourage reading and raise donations for our non-profit education fund. Every year, my daughters out-do themselves in the hopes that their class will take the title.

Unfortunately, it hasn’t happened for them yet. Somehow, they never seem to end up in a classroom with enough other kids who are excited about reading. As my (then 3rd grade) daughter put it last year, “a bunch of the kids in my class don’t like to read. They don’t think it’s cool.”

Seriously? 8 year old kids care if reading is cool?? Are kids really judging one another, that young, on whether they read a 20 minutes a night “because my mom made me” or 3 hours “because I love books?”

That is so NOT cool.

I am lucky that my kids really don’t mind – yet – how others perceive them. They are happy in their own skins. And I am definitely lucky that this year, at long last, my fourth grader’s class has a real shot at the Read-A-Thon title thanks to both a wonderful crowd of classmates whose families value reading and a wonderful teacher who has lit a fire in their minds with exciting books, daily independent reading time, and engaging classroom conversations about books.

Thank goodness, because my girl has kind of outdone herself this year: upwards of 34 hours in 10 days.

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There might be more hours I don’t know about, since she’s a sneaky after-bedtime-reader. But I’m not signing off on those.

What worries me, though, is that kids who love and value reading seem to be fewer and further between these days. It worries me that the generation growing up right now feels so much pressure to fit in, to be liked – in person and on social media – to do what is cool. I don’t know if it is harder for them than it was for me – and my generation – but I suspect it might be.

With kids as young as elementary school owning their own cell phones, with middle and high school kids more or less branding themselves and judging one another on countless forms of social media, it is easier than ever for kids to see in numerical data, black and white, just how popular or unpopular they are. And if posting “shelfies” or hanging out at the library isn’t going to get a bunch of “likes” – then are these kids going to keep reading?

It makes my head hurt and my heart ache when I see popular culture bashing reading. This quote is from several years ago, but it continues to pop up in the media, over and over. It makes me cringe.

So, this kind of statement from celebrities is what our kids have to contend with? I don’t even know what to say about that.  I want less Kanye nonsense, and more Emma Watson wonderment.

I want more news about artists like Usher inspiring kids to read:

I think it’s important to show kids that we love to read, that smart people love to read, that famous people love to read, that “cool” people love to read, that brilliant, world-changing people love to read, that reading is essential and amazing. I want more of THAT in my newsfeed, my instagram, and my child’s life. I never want my child to feel ashamed or left out because she loves books. Or math. Or science. Or history. (I digress.)

If you feel the same, please, take action to make a change. Show your kids images that support the idea that reading IS cool. Visit Scholastic’s World of Possible site for resources that get kids excited about reading. Help your kids, your school or your library organize book clubs for kids to share a love of reading. Post pictures of your kids’ stack of books, their reading log, the times you catch them wrapped up in a good book, and tag them with #raisingreaders or #lovetoread !

And, of course, share this post and comment below. I want to know your experiences, your ideas, your concerns!

For more ways to make your household reader-friendly, please check out this post.

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20 thoughts on “#RaisingReaders Monday: Be Like The Cool Kids

  1. As mother of another sneaky after-bedtime reader I loved your blog. Books are so important and so valuable and I’m so glad Offspring has caught the bug. Exposure is vital – our house is full of books and the library is a regular weekend destination. Once caught the bookbug is hard to shake off.

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    • So glad you found the blog, and that your “offspring” (lol) ahd caught the book bug. It’s so important for kids to have role models they wish to emulate – and one of the best things those role models can do is show kids the value of education, literacy, and of feeling “cool” for the person they are inside. Parents like you make great first role models for this – let’s hope the rest of the world provides us with more when are kids no longer want to emulate us!

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  2. That’s wonderful your kids love reading so much! My oldest is just starting to read books on her own and it’s awesome to see how much she enjoys it. I feel that children’s literature is making a comeback. Maybe I’m naive but it seems there are a lot more options in the library & bookstore than even 5 years ago, which must be because of demand 🙂

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    • I like to think so, too (and not just because I’m trying to get my kidlit published!) There seem to be so many more options, at a variety of levels, and great availability – at least where I live. It’s so fun to pour through the library or bookstore with kids and see what draws them in!

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  3. Great post, Katey 🙂 First of all, people like Kayne West are morons—flat out morons. Famous, but not smart, and there’s a lot more than this stupid quote to back that up.

    Kids need to be reminded that it was all the people READing Harry Potter that got movies made about the books. Hunger Games. The list goes on and on.

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  4. I love this post and could not agree more! My children have a love of reading and we just had a similar reading program in our district. My son, who is in 3rd grade is a very advanced reader but not as strong in other subjects. I think he finds confidence in reading and that is why he really enjoys it. I will def check out the link!

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  5. Kanye is an idiot! We have always read to our kids and all three enjoy books! but then again so does their mommy. my 7yo walks into to school each day with a nose in book and every morning I watch so she doesn’t trip or run in to something lol!

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    • My kids do that,too – walking and reading, that is. I have never for a minute wondered where they got it, since I read while brushing my teeth, eating breakfast, and flipping pancakes. Glad to know that more moms and dads are happily raising kids who love to read! Keep up the good work, April!

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  6. I want to start off by saying thanks for sharing and I completely agree! I know this post is about reading, but unfortunately kids are making fun of each other at a very young age. My brother was in speech therapy at 4 years old and he was doing a wonderful job. At home if he mispronounced a word and we corrected him he would say it correctly. Then at 5 in kindergarten, it was a different story all together. He was getting made fun of so if we would correct him he would just clam up and stop speaking.
    On the side of reading, I have always loved reading. I want to instill this in my daughter, so I read to her every night before bed. I hope that she grows up loving books as much as I did. I was just like your daughter growing up, reading every night, trying to read under the covers after bed time. As much as I don’t want my daughter staying up after bed time, I want her to be like me. I would prefer her to spend her nights reading than texting!

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  7. Reading not cool? I have never quite heard it put that way before. SOOOOO SAD. I have three daughters who read, but don’t love it as much as I do. I think they will grow to appreciate it more. And since modeling is, I think, the best way to teach, before too long they will never want to be without a book. Anyway, when they were doing reading marathons in elementary school there was always a period of time when the parent’s reading time counted toward their class goal. Because I read so much they would egg me on to read more (not too hard to do) so they could up their class totals. SO FUNNY. Very lovely days indeed.

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    • Thanks so much for commenting, Judith! I certainly agree that modeling is a great way to teach our kids. We spend plenty of time reading in front of the kids, and reading with them, and I know it pays off in so many ways. It’s not just that they lvoe and value reading, it’s that they have so much stronger vocabularies, wilder imaginations, and broader understanding of the world than the would without the exposure to books. There is really no substitute!

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  8. I am so glad that we started our son reading really early. He still loves it and he’s a teenager!! Thank the Lord for that one. This new generation makes me worry that they might not even know how to read with all of the junk in the media, etc. Love this post!

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    • It’s great that the love of reading you started has lasted int his teens! Congratulations on a job well done. Thanks for dropping by. I love to connect with others who love books and reading.

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  9. Loved this post! So true. Education is just not the same anymore (this worries us, as we see the changes now and our little one is still quite young). I can’t imagine how things will be when she enters the school system in a few years. I remember when I was a kid, over the summer I would read 100’s of titles! I needed to read, I always felt like something was missing. Sadly, I don’t take the time to read for myself now (but reading books has been and continues to be a major part of our evening routine!) Would love if you popped by and follow my blog. I think that we both share similar views on parenting (based on what I have read so far!). Looking forward to reading more.

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