My daughter is back, safe and sound from her trip to Boston. We talked this morning, and she said that only herself and another girl brought books on the trip. On the way back from Boston, they talked on the plane about their favorite books. As a writer, I sat back in the easy chair and blinked. Kath is on the debate team. Not to promote stereotypes, but most of the time two groups of high school students are particularly stereotyped as studious: the debate team and the robotics team. I delved deeper into the conversation, asking why aren’t these kids reading? Some occupy their minds with other things (i.e., texting, talking, etc.). But some don’t find reading interesting. I had to bite back my tongue. There’s something out there for everyone. If you like Game of Thrones on television, read the books. Like Outlander on television? Read the books. Like Orange is the New Black on television? Read the book. (Please note I have only read the first three in the Outlander series and have not read any of these other books, but my husband loves the George R.R. Martin series). If you prefer movies to television, let’s explore some recent movies. Like The Fault in Our Stars? Read the book. Like Mockingjay? Read the book. Like 50 Shades of Gray? I’m sorry. But seriously, if you’re in high school, ask your parents if you can read the book (I don’t believe in censorship, but I do believe you should respect your parents’ decision about a book with mature themes until you are out of the house and can make an informed decision on your own, but that’s a different blog). There are books out there for all different age levels and all different interests. I will call on stereotypes for a minute. Like role-playing? Try science fiction, try fantasy, try alternate history. Like manicures and pedicures? Try young adult, new adult or romance. Like running marathons? Try thrillers, try mysteries, try something with an intricate plot that’ll give you something to think about between mile markers ten and twenty. In other words, no matter what you like to do, there’s a book out there for you. There are so many good books out there that it hurts my head to think there are high school students who don’t read with the mere explanation there’s nothing out there to suit them. Now, unlike any time in history, there are so many alternatives for devices that enable a book to be read: tablets, e-readers, smartphones, iPods, laptops, computers, and more. Not to mention the oldest device for reading that I know of: a plain old book in either hardcover or paperback. When I click on my Kindle to a major retailer, up pop a number of categories from humor to romance to biography. On Facebook right now, there’s a funny story making the rounds of one guy making his own categories in a bookstore. If you haven’t seen it, check it out. I laughed really hard. It’s on boredpanda.com, and the first picture reclassifies romance novels (I’m a romance writer and I think his characterization is hilarious), followed by cookbooks and other books. What I particularly love about these classifications is how he’s using humor to showcase books and showing how different books can appeal to a wide range of interests.
I’ll end with this true story. For those of you who don’t know, I have four children: Kath, MJ, Cupcake, and Chunk. MJ and Chunk both taught themselves to read at an early age. MJ was three and, believe it or not, Chunk was two. Before Chunk turned five last October, someone came up to me and asked me how I taught Chunk to read. I was taken aback and said he had taught himself to read. True, I have read books over and over to him and Cupcake. When MJ was in kindergarten, his homework assignment was to read to me every night and at the time I was pregnant with Cupcake and Chunk. Every day at five o’clock, MJ would read to me. Every day at 5:01, Cupcake would kick in response, presumably hearing MJ’s voice as he read aloud. Cupcake and Chunk have been exposed to reading before they were even born. When I was telling WH (wonderful hubby) the story of someone asking me how I taught Chunk to read, I paused and said, “I only wish I had told her I truthfully don’t care what age each of them starts reading, I care that they have a lifelong love of reading and continue to read even after they leave home.”
I meant it then and I mean it now. I want my kids to have the same joy of settling down with a book, opening the cover or touching a screen, and getting lost in a great story. There really is a book out there for everyone. I hope more high school students find books that capture their interest. Next time, I hope more than two students take some books with them on a trip.
What about you? Are you the type of person who suggests a book to someone if they tell you there’s nothing out there to pique their interest? What have you done to instill the love of reading for others? Let me know.