📅 My Plan to Get My Girls Hooked on Books

photo credit: Super Furry Librarian via photopin cc
photo credit: Super Furry Librarian via photopin cc

The girls don’t think it’s cool to read.

Sad isn’t it? These kids’ parents read to them every night. With expression. And voices. Lots and lots of voices. So what gives? Why believe there’s no such thing as a good book? Should I blame Disney Channel? Vine?

Apps that allow you to spin your mental wheels without getting anywhere?

This is what happens when the school makes kids read books they don’t like. During summer vacation. What if we did this … What if … we let the kids read … whatever they wanted to read?

Think about it for a minute.

photo credit: Super Furry Librarian via photopin cc
photo credit: Super Furry Librarian via photopin cc

Grown-up book readers  – what book hooked you? A trilogy of short work of fiction that trumped TV and baseball, boys and bike-riding? I’d bet it was something you picked out on your own. A classic?

Who doesn’t love a story?

Or, it might not.

It hooked you. Twilight never saw the light of day in our house, but the Hunger Games books did. The girls have dusty favorite kid books on the shelf. Some come from dad’s childhood, some from mom’s, some completely their own. Who doesn’t love a story?

How sweet is a story that you discover on your own?

Books have moved Madison since she was 4. It was Rosie’s demise as the Jetsons family robot that got her misty then. More recently? A book about the Holocaust kept her up at night. Books rouse and books stir.

And I’d love to find a way to help my girls discover them again.

My guest post on Diary of a Word Nerd got me thinking books. And writing about them. Not just to impress Letizia. Although won’t she be? So come on CD – what books did your girls hate?

It wasn’t so much the books.

A tough audience to impress

Although, I wasn’t crazy about them, either. Assigned reading feels like a summer-long homework assignment from hell. Don’t be surprised if your audience is tough to impress.

girls read books

Here’s what I’ll do about it: The girls and I will visit a huge bookstore in Rock Hill. I’m will let them loose. This joint has paperbacks from every genre. I’ll watch them choose something. Anything.

I want them to judge a book by the cover or at least by the book-jacket blurb. I want them to choose something … and read it.

There’s hope.

Camdyn spent her own money at the book fair and picked Doll Cemetery and a Percy Jones book. I hope they become tattered and dog-eared. Hayden liked Divergent. Madison devoured The Hunger Games trilogy.

So here’s the plan.

The book they pick? Not required reading. But if they finish … we’ll go back. We can get the next in the series, or another book like it, or one they checked out but passed over. Maybe something new.

Just … read

And maybe we’ll stop at Sonic because it happens to be a happier hour.

photo credit: Super Furry Librarian via photopin cc
photo credit: Super Furry Librarian via photopin cc

We might talk about books, and I might tell them about mine. Books by Stephen King and Jack London and Lee Smith. And Ernest Hemingway, at some point.

Maybe they’ll read the books their sisters read.

Or that I did. And this might become expensive, but what an investment. And maybe I’ll even put down the draft of the next blog, and pick up a book from my shelf that has propped up our Christmas village for years.

And reading might even feel … cool again.

What book hooked you on reading as a kid?

reading quote


  1. Lyn says:

    Gulliver’s Travels, Swiss Family Robinson, Black Beauty. My Dad bought them all for me. Once a month — sometimes once a fortnight, he would arrive home with a new book for me. I’d wait on the front step for him to come home and then I’d lay in the hallway near the front door and read, and read, and read. Thank you Dad, for the love and joy of books you nurtured in me.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Good ones, Lyn. I love that your dad brought them home. That’s when a dad feels best – when he finds that bond with his daughter, that pathway to her heart.

  2. I totally loved the Babysitter’s Club and also Sweet Valley High when I was a young girl. I also think now they have tween books from the American Girl Store ( I got my niece one – she just turned 10). Right now, my girls still love reading though, but will need to use my creativity too when I get to this stage myself.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I remember seeing those books in the classroom, while we boys read about dinosaurs, NFL stars and Choose Your Own Adventures.

      Now that i think of it, my girls did love Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Magic Treehouse. The best part was that they could pick the book they wanted to read.

      1. That is always the best part as I hated when the actual book got picked for me to be honest.

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        Man, a library day and nothing checked out? The possibilities were endless. Where is the dinosaur section? (Me, at age 7. And 37.)

      3. Somehow I can totally picture that!

      4. Eli Pacheco says:

        They changed all the dinosaur rules. Tyrannosaurus Rex wasn’t called T-rex in my day, and he stood up straight. And now Stegosaurus is a water dinosaur?

        *mind blown*

      5. Definitely a mind blowing experience for sure! 😉

  3. Lisa says:

    The Hobbit and also Watership Down hooked me! Reading is a wonderful hobby and I hope your girls will enjoy getting into it too!! Great idea on making a fun day with them to the book store!! Hugz Lisa and Bear

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I didn’t read either of those, Lisa. I know a lot of my friends loved The Hobbit. I think my girls just need a good experience, to know that feeling of not being able to put a book down. Thanks!

  4. Great post, Eli.
    I have one reader and one non-reader. My non-reader is a junior in college who is know wishing she’d read more. I was able to entice her with Twilight and horse books. My reader is in the middle of To Kill a Mockingbird and we’ve been bonding over it all week. He started with Diary of a Wimpy kid when he was young and has been a reader ever since.
    Me? I was a voracious reader as a kiddo and got hooked early on Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Louisa May Alcott. I’m going back and visiting those books with an adult eye…it’s astonishing to see how much I missed the first time around.
    Tell me though….any hints on how to read Hemingway? I know I should…but, I can’t ever get past the first chapter. Unless it’s assigned reading 🙂

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Diary of a Wimpy kid is a good way to get kids in – they can associate with the characters. Or at least, I could! I wish they had them when i was young.

      I think all books read differently the second time around, and some of that has to do with our age. Even if it’s just a year! We’re in a difference place.

      Hints about Hemingway: The beauty is in the simplicity. It’s clean, nothing superfluous. that’s hard sometimes, because when we read, we like the superfluous.

      Plus, I think he’s a guy writing for guys. Just as we guys would struggle to read a woman writing for women, this can be just as tough.

      1. Good to know about Hemingway. Typically, I prefer male writers…but, I must just have a brain block with him! Oh well–it’s fun to keep trying!

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        I’d suggest Sun Also Rises, but I’m biased! Also, Garden of Eden, his last story. What difference do you notice between female and male writers?

      3. I’m not sure I can tangibly point to anything. I like Dan Brown, Stephen King, Fitzgerald, Steinbeck. Their books seem more visual and less “fluffy”? I kinda dislike romance (ie Nicolas Sparks) but i still do love the Bronte sisters and Louisa May Alcott. My last fiction read was The Night Circus…loved it!! Female writer–maybe I don’t know what i like best!!
        Thank you for the Hemingway suggestions!!

      4. Eli Pacheco says:

        I wonder if there’s a way to write a romance novel in the mold of Hemingway or Brown or Steinbeck. Or is it too reliant on the fluffy stuff?

      5. LOL! One of my post ideas was to write about Romeo and Juliet and how they would text each other if they lived in the now.
        I couldn’t find the appropriate emoticons and gave up 😉

      6. Eli Pacheco says:

        Resurrect that idea … just get some ideas on the screen!

  5. tania2atee says:

    What a great post, Eli!
    Oh there are so many to choose from, but one of my earliest memories was Tales of the Fourth Grade Nothing. Read (obviously) in grade 4. I actually got in trouble for laughing out loud! I then devoured ALL Judy Bloom books I could get my hands on…went onto The Babysitter’s Club books, Sweet Valley High and Flower’s in the Attic.
    The assigned books from school that turned into great loves for me were To Kill a Mockingbird, The Diary of Anne Frank, The Lord of the Flies and Wuthering Heights.
    Oh…time takes me away from reading my own books now, and it makes me sad.
    My girls love storytime before bed, and yes – I do the voices too! I hope that love continues.
    Investing in books is always a good choice!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Glad you liked it! I’d hoped it would spark some of the reading memories. Tales of the Fourth Grade Nothing should be required reading in fourth grade, I think.

      The Lord of the Flies! See my girls don’t get these books assigned to them. What happened to Great Gatsby and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’ Nest?

      I want to keep a book in my bag and at least once a day, open that rather than my laptop.

      Bedtime stories … treasure them as long as you can! Now, the girls will ask me to tell them stories … which I love to do, too. (Even if it IS a stall tactic!)

      1. tania2atee says:

        Are they just not getting books assigned to read? Or they are just not these classics?

        I will admit, some of them were torture! The one I hated the most was The Chrysalids. Could be partly because the teacher LOVED it so much, but I hated it. Still read it.

        I do treasure the bedtime stories….my older daughter wants to read to me now, so it’s starting to change, but we love them.

        (And yes, it’s all a stall tactic!)

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        They just don’t like the books they get assigned for summer. They also don’t get the classics assigned to them.

        I wish they could just pick a book, and be asked to create a project about it. A paper, art, whatever. Let them express what they got out of the book.

        I love that bedtime stall tactic, though! And if you’re getting read to … then you’ve done something right, Tania!

      3. tania2atee says:

        I agree. I hope that changes, I want my girls to be tortured to read the same classics I did.

        I know, right!? I love being read to!

      4. Eli Pacheco says:

        Yeah, let ’em slog through Animal Farm!

  6. 9jaime says:

    I was a big Nancy Drew and Little House on the Prairie fan, which makes my kids think I am extremely old. My oldest reads anything and everything, but my next down isn’t a huge reader. She is starting to like teen love stories like the Fault In Our Stars, etc. My third loves history and science—this little guy devours books about Presidential assassinations, wars, weapons,planes, and any kind of science. Our fourth loves Diary of a Wimpy Kid books (well they all do, actually) and Captain Underpants books. Next one down loves everything, and the kindergartener seems especially attracted to Minecraft books. The little ones are loving the Llama, Llama books right now. Me, I’m lucky to read a blog post. 😉 I plan on digging out some old favorites once soccer ends. Maybe.

    I’m with you, though, let them read whatever as long as they read!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Reading keeps us young, Jaime. I read a lot of my favorite sports writers when I was up and coming, and then didn’t do much of what they did. I found my own style.

      The Fault in Our Stars is another of those stories (I haven’t read it) that can pull in teens. It’s so relatable. I know we read to escape, but we also read to find ourselves, don’t we?

      I think reading blog posts counts, for sure.

  7. ProteanMom says:

    I got out of doing chores if I was reading… so I got out of chores a LOT. Looking back, my folks were amazingly patient about how much I read – and they took me to the library frequently – as often as once a week during the summer.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      The library > Chuck E. Cheese. Right?

      Reading kept you off the streets, Kim. Kind of. I used to get out of chores by saying I had to go to the bathroom. You win!

  8. NotAPunkRocker says:

    Not counting the family room, which had one wall that was all built-in bookshelves, I think I figured out we had 8 other bookshelves in the house when I was growing up.

    My mother had the entire collection of Stephen King’s books at the time, so I remember starting on those in 4th or 5th grade. Soon I was on to other horror/suspense authors as well as true crime and biographies. Not reading was never an option or a consideration, it seems.

    Matthew likes a lot of the same, horror/suspense, but with the addition of manga. He wasn’t an avid reader like me, but he didn’t mind it when I decided we had enough electronic overload for the moment and would cut everything off every so often.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Wow. You *were* the library.

      It seems young for Stephen King, but that was me, too. “Christine” got me hooked. I can’t imagine Grace reading “Christine.” Or could I?

      I feel like kids’ brain mush caused by Zach and Cody could be reversed slightly by time in a good book.

      1. NotAPunkRocker says:

        Well, we were not into sports (not that I would have been any good), didn’t have cable and lived in a very, very rural area. So it was read the books in the house or do nothing.

        My first SK book was “Eyes of the Dragon.” Not the typical story by him, so probably OK for starting out in that genre. Keep in mind I was a weird kid, and this may have contributed to me being a weird adult too.

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        Books kept you from foraging the forest and living a life like Rambo, then. See? good stuff.

        If reading Stephen King makes you a weird kid and consequently a weird adult, then I’ll join the club, too.

  9. Meg C. DeBoe says:

    Tell your girls that it’s ok to walk away from a bad book. Nothing kills a desire to read like the feeling of being shackled to a book you don’t like. Put it down. Try another one.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      That’s all they seemed to get this past summer! You’re right though … it’s like getting that bad peanut in the bag, and then you don’t want to get another.

      Or, you can’t wait to get one, and get that taste out of your mouth!

  10. Kim says:

    I was a bit nerdy growing up (and even still!!) and loved reading – I don’t know what book hooked me but I always read a lot!!!
    Thankfully both of my boys are big readers – trips to the book store are on my list of all time favorite events!!!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Awesome, Kim. I hope we’ll wind up that way, too. And I have to model it, right? I have to shut the laptop and open a book to walk the walk. (but not walk and read).

  11. Lisa @ The Meaning of Me says:

    As a teacher, nothing pained me more than to hear kids say they didn’t read or didn’t like to read…one girl even told me that when her parents bought her books for holidays or birthdays that it felt like a punishment. It made my English lit major’s heart cry. I am a firm believer that there is something out there for everyone to enjoy – it’s just a matter of trying them on until you find the right fit. If your girls aren’t into something, put it aside and keep looking for one that works. I look at books I don’t enjoy as a challenge and try to push through if for no other reason than to say I can talk about my dislike from an informed place. But maybe you have to be a peculiar kind of book nerd to soldier through like that. (Useless trivia: There is only one book I’ve ever not finished and it positively haunts me. Someday I will give it another try.)
    If I started listing the books I love, it would completely hijack your blog until it would explode. My earliest memory of a book that hooked me…probably Milne’s Winnie the Pooh stories. As a child, I read The Children on Troublemaker Street and the Little House books and Sweet Valley High, The Hobbit and The Once and Future King (that one – required summer reading, by the way – got me hooked on Arthurian literature which has now all but taken over our home library). I read everything Judy Blume ever wrote (including the one that we tweens shouldn’t have). I remember Little Women and Hans Brinker and The Secret Garden and The Little Princess and E. B. White’s books and Anderson’s fairy tales…and all of that just takes me to the end of eighth grade. So many others…
    Do I sound like a terrible book nerd? Or snob? OK, so be it. I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t love to read. I never hated summer reading – to me, it was an opportunity to check out something I might not have picked on my own. My parents were readers…all of their parents were readers…my Husband and I are still readers and Kidzilla slugs down books like a shark on a feeding frenzy. I’m OK with that as long as she gets out in the sunlight once in a while, too. 😀

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      It’s not unlike youth sports, where parents can foster a child’s love for it, or they can squelch it. You must know your child. What sparks their interest?

      What is the book you haven’t yet finished? There’s a blog post waiting to happen …

      I think the concept of a summer reading list can work, if the student has a love for reading. As you said, it can show you titles you wouldn’t have picked on your own.

      But we need to foster that love first, don’t we? If we can, our kids will never, ever be bored.

      Reading in the sun sounds like a good way to spend a fall day in Carolina.

      1. Lisa @ The Meaning of Me says:

        Did I forget to say what book it was? Duh. It’s Gregory Maguire’s Wicked. I know, I know, the musical…but the musical is what people think the book is and it’s not. The musical is an overblown interpretation of but one small part of the story. The novel is a socio-political portrait rife with ethical conundrums – which is great. Hey, I slogged through Animal Farm, too, but for some reason I couldn’t get this one down. I don’t know if it’s writing or I just wasn’t in the right place to like it at that time. I will try again at some point – I never leave a book unfinished.
        Making reference to other comments on here – the kids in my high school do indeed read the classics. To Kill a Mockingbird and Gatsby are indeed on the list as well as many others that I remember reading in high school. I understand the move to include more contemporary and culturally diverse literature for students. The theory is that they will relate better and therefore want to read more. OK, fair enough. But I’ll argue that the themes in the Old Dead White Guys canon still has its place – the settings and conventions may be different, but the sentiments and themes are universal across culture, time, and geography. I spent a huge part of my master’s work on that very topic. Probably should’ve written the thesis; opted for the comp exams instead since I had an infant at the time I was finishing. I say there is a place for both in a modern canon – it doesn’t have to be one or the other. But schools are so busy jumping through the state assessment hoops that teachers don’t know which end is up or how to get all the material in that needs to be addressed.
        *Steps quietly off soapbox..*
        Anyway…however it’s done, the interest in and love of reading does have to be fostered. For me – and now for my daughter – it’s modeling. If they see reading and see people enjoying reading and talking about what they’ve read, kids learn that it’s something good to do. Maybe not always, but in most cases. Children learn what they live.

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        There’s that beautiful moment when you realize the book is better than the movie. I think that keeps us coming back to books, too.

        Great points on the value of combining classics and contemporary. I think there are not enough classics in our cirriculum. And they haven’t read Canterbury Tales!

        Just like road rage and calorie intake, our kids are watching what – and if – we read books.

  12. ieatyoumama says:

    Love this.
    So, so necessary.
    And you know one of my all time, burned in memories from my childhood? My dad reading my brother and me The Princess Bride. He’d read just enough to get to a cliffhanger and then stop for the night. We were beyond hooked. His attention, his love, his love of books all made a huge impression on me. Still does.

    Thanks for the beautiful post!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks MB! I love the idea of reading a chapter book to the kids. Your dad did it right.

      I read one to Marie years ago, and used to fight off requests for one more chapter of Diary of a Wimpy kid at some point.

  13. Louise says:

    Sweet Valley Twins was the first set of books to really hook me. I remember getting a box set of the first four for Christmas in – I want to say Grade 4. After that I devoured that series, Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley High … until Junior High when I moved on to Christopher Pike then adult(ish) fare.

    I try to remember not to force my choices on my kids. We tend to talk about stories and then see if we can find them at the library. Ie: we got onto the tale of the Princess and Pea at dinner a few weeks ago and then went to the library to find first the Hans Christian Andersen version, then one where the princess is a Pig, the prince is a REAL PIG, and so the Princess chooses to marry the Pizza Delivery Pig instead. The whole book is full of peas, and p’s and p words. My daughter loved it etc…. Hopefully they transition to readers at some stage (but not yet).

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I can see where so many people got their reading starts around here. I think it helped that books didn’t have to compete with apps and the web then.

      A book had a fighting chance. Today, attention spans are so short. Damn you, Vine.

      Love the discussion of stories, though. You’re doing this right, Louise!

  14. ksbeth says:

    i loved mysteries like nancy drew and funny books like amelia bedelia and mrs. pigglewiggle. books open up a whole new world of unlimited imagination. i’ll write a blog about what i did when one of my daughters gave up on reading for pleasure for a while – you are doing the right thing, eli –

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      books like amelia bedelia talk to us as kids the way i wish zach and cody *didn’t* speak to kids now. it was realistic(ish) and had mischief, but not the jackassery of the disney channel show.

      thanks for the encouragement, beth. look forward to your blog about your daughter ditching the books!

  15. Letizia says:

    I am impressed! (but I’m always impressed by your posts, Eli). I love the idea of letting the girls loose and able to choose what books they want to read. Assigned books DO feel like homework. Heck, they ARE homework. I always loved reading (ok, no surprise there) but I remember loving EB White when I was quite young and learning to speak English, the Big Friendly Giant, To Kill a Mockingbird (thankfully I got my hands on that before it was assigned, phew!), The World According to Garp a bit older on.

    I think that as long as they see you reading then they will return to their love of reading later too, right? Didn’t someone once say, be the person you want your kids to become? Goodness, that’s a lot of pressure! You’re a kickass dad, Eli.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      This post wasn’t *designed* to impress you, but I’d be lying if that wasn’t a decent byproduct! I used to take them to the dollar store and tell them they could have ANYTHING.

      I want to do the same in the book store.

      Do you think getting to To Kill a Mockingbird before it became required helped you to enjoy it?

      For me to be the person I want my kids to become is like the turkey trying to teach eagles to fly. But you know what? Here goes nothing.

      1. Letizia says:

        I like the image of a turkey teaching eagles to fly – that would be a cute children’s book.

        Reading To Kill a Mockingbird before it was assigned definitely made me enjoy it more. I didn’t have to worry about analyzing anything, but could just enjoy the story (and bonus- when it was assigned, it was my second reading!).

        Maybe have a family bookclub and you all read it at the same time? Maybe that will feel like homework though, not sure..

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        Wouldn’t it? I think I’ll jot down a few notes on that one …

        Did you actually read it the second time, To Kill a Mockingbird? I would have taken the time off. I bet you read it again.

        Family book club could work … but they’re in difference places for reading, really. I would read what they do, though, just to have the conversation.

      3. Letizia says:

        I’ve read To Kill a Mockingbird a few times – the first time for me, the second for school a few years later, and then again recently as an adult (because I had forgotten most of the story!)

        Reading what they are reading sounds like a fun idea, to talk about what they are reading, the characters and such. Maybe have them choose the book they want you to read with them (because I remember enjoying the ‘secrecy’ of reading – thinking no one else had read the book I was reading. Of course, my mother is a voracious reader and had read everything already but I had no idea at the time!).

      4. Eli Pacheco says:

        Had the story changed, Letizia?

        I like the idea of reading a book with them. Years ago, I read Marie a book she was assigned for school. We had a blast. But, I wonder if I did more damage than good.

        Should I have let her read it to me?

  16. C just recently began to read books by himself, and he loves it! I’m glad and a bit proud, too. He likes “the little dragon called coconut”.
    As a kid – although I was older than he currently is – I loved anything by Enid Blyton. I went to the library and bulk-borrowed the stories about five friends and their adventures.
    A trip to the book store sounds like a wonderful time – enjoy!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      It feels like I just started to read books by myself, too. Is the dragon book in German? I know it’s by a German author. Smooth, eh?

      I wonder if the adventures in Blyton’s books were anything like yours.

  17. mocadeaux says:

    I absolutely loved the Pipi Longstocking series, all of the Paddington the Bear books and any adventure involving Encyclopedia Brown, boy detective. But nothing makes me smile more than watching my son read to his twin sons with enthusiasm and so many different voices!

  18. I used to have a closet in my room,that I set up as my own private space dedicated to book reading and day dreaming. I loved it. I remember reading Sarah Plain and Tall, Amelia badelia, babysitters club, and all the tween classics of the 90s. 😉 I read to the boys every night and definitely hope their love of books grows. I completely agree with youre theory about assigned summer reading. I feel like that ruined reading for me in high school. Too bad they don’t let us make the rules huh!? Sounds like you’ve got a fool proof plan in place though! With a dad who loves words and writing, I’m sure that’ll rub off somewhere.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I envisioned a spot like that in my house – a bay window, with storage for blankets, and a book shelf next to it. Do you have a spot now that’s like that, for reading/daydreaming?

      I think we introduce the story to our kids, and hope they’ll go find some of their own through books. I wish they’d assign some of the good books we read at that age.

      After I wrote this post, I remembered books they all did enjoy at some point. Maybe that’ll be a starting point.

      Awesome that you read to those boys every night. I loved those days.

      1. They are good days! And no I d o by have a spot like that now but someday I hope to have exactly what you described…a big bay window and a little nook with pillows and blankets and tranquility. Oh I love the though of that! Keep up the good work with your girls!

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        I will … and i just realized that nook ought to have snacks, right?

      3. 100%. Snacks are always necessary!

      4. Eli Pacheco says:

        It goes without saying – but it’s always good to talk snacks.

      5. Eli Pacheco says:

        It doesn’t seem to matter what I write about. It always comes back to food.

  19. firebailey says:

    I have to admit the only and I mean ONLY book I have ever read to the girls is Good Night Moon. Yet Abby loves to read. I think it is because she sees me reading. Especially if I am reading a book I cannot put down. One trick is never making her do the required summer reading for school. That is one time when she should be able to read any book she wants, as long as she is reading. This makes the “have to” books of the school year easier to deal with, I hope. I like your plan of letting the girls loose in the bookstore. one of the negatives of the Kindle is you lose that moment when you discover an author you had no idea exists.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      That’s a good one, though. If there’s going to be one book … and you modeling the reading plays a part. My girls just see me writing blogs, and reading blogs.

      I am with you on sticking it to the summer reading list. We’ll rebel. There’s enough ‘have to’ during the school year.

  20. FIrst memory? Dad reading me “Doctor Dolittle.” No relation whatsoever to the Eddie Murphy movies. In fact they shared only the name.
    My son is a voracious reader. My daughter came to it much, much more slowly. Her lightbulb book? “The Boy In the Striped Pyjamas.” Her teacher read it to the class in grade 8 and my daughter read it to us at bedtime. Magical.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I remember that book. And for your daughter, it just took the right book, that’s all. I hope mine will find that next summer.

  21. Gary Sidley says:

    Anything by Thomas Hardy, particularly “Return of the Native.”

    I’ve failed miserably to get either of my two offspring into books, although my 24-year-old son does seem to be developing a belated interest. They are both more into films.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thomas Hardy is a good choice, brother. Films make it easier to forgo books, but the first time you see a movie that doesn’t live up to the book, you’re changed forever.

  22. My Mom always read to us. As we got older, she’d borrow and read our library books which made reading seem cooler and kept us connected! We still swap books all the time.
    I’ve always read to my kids with voices and actions, anything to keep them engaged. One is a reader and one is becoming one! I read their books too (and can quote from Captain Underpants to prove it. I hope that makes them think I’m a cool Mom and they’ll pass that “coolness” on some day!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Your mom had the plan! We did the same with the girls, but somehow, they lost the momentum. I will still blame Disney channel characters, too, who make being dumb, cool.

      The girls could get me to change the voice I used by pressing the top of my head. This is standard issue for dads, this sort of thing.

      I think you earned your Cool Mom badge long ago, Jenn. You rock.

  23. I read everything I could get my hands on, but my first favorites were the Little House in the Prairie series and all the Ramona books. My all time favorite book was Gone With The Wind. I hope your plan works. Please give us an update. I have five kids and have read to all of them. They’ve seen me reading a book most of their lives. And still, not one of them, will pick up a book for pleasure. It’s sad to me.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Ramona’s got moxie. I’ve never read Gone with the Wind. Seemed not such a boy book, but Moby Dick was. I had a hard time keeping up, though.

      I will definitely write about the bookstore trip. I’ll tempt them with snacks or something.

      I think there’s so much distraction and quick satisfaction out there now, Marie. How can a novel compete with a string of Vine videos?

  24. Dana says:

    What book DIDN’T hook me on reading when I was a kid? I read constantly, until the demands of high school and college forced me to read required books instead of ones I chose. Then I started reading constantly again, and still do. I have one kid who loves to read, and one who will only read Sports Illustrated. But if either kid asks for a book, I’m on Amazon or the library website in a heartbeat. I put that book in their hands as fast as I can.

    The first book I remember loving was Island of the Blue Dolphins. I tried to get my daughter to read it, but she didn’t want to. I was heartbroken.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      It was so much easier as a kid, right Dana? They’d give us a paint-mixer stick to use as a placeholder for the books we took off the shelf. So many possibilities back then.

      College was better, because I could choose a course I thought would have interesting reading. I took Southern Lit, and that’s where I fell in love with Lee Smith.

      Work in Sports Illustrated is well done. I learned so much about descriptive writing and setting a scene as I went cover to cover every week as a teen and preteen.

      What about Blue Dolphins that put your daughter off?

      1. Dana says:

        I don’t really remember, Eli. It was probably partly because I loved it. And it’s not a super happy book – girl and her brother are stranded on an island alone. I’d love for her to give it a try one day, though.

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        That’s the kind of book i’d have shied away from as a preteen. I had a fear of being left alone in the wilderness, or, don’t laugh – locked in school all weekend.

        Or, a rest-stop bathroom. Seriously.

        You know how sometimes it’s just not the right time for a book? Maybe it will be someday, for her and Blue Dolphins.

  25. This is so interesting! My kids won’t have a choice with me since we’ll be homeschooling so…I’m not sure how it will work by the time they get to the point where they are reading at the school age if they will have books that they are required to read or not, if not, I will probably go crazy happy picking and choosing different types of books I think they might find interesting and of course I want to let them pick some of their own. 🙂

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks Brittnei! I can’t imagine a better arrangement – the freedom to choose what to read, with the guidance of a mom and teacher who wants to expose them to something new.

      Maybe i’ll drop my kids off there once in a while … you’ll hardly notice.

  26. tamaralikecamera says:

    Oddly, a book about the Holocaust did that to me as a kid and it’s even mentioned in my Ask Away Friday post tonight.
    I think for me it was the Polk Street School books. And Amelia Bedelia.

  27. Rorybore says:

    gah – I think the Internet ate my first comment. I guess it wanted to read it all to itself. 😉

    I read everything. just basically anything I could get my hands on. Winnie the Pooh stories and Adventures in the Green Forest, Anne of Green Gables, to Jack London, Robert Louis Stevenson, and then to Sweet Valley High and Trixie Belden. Comics were a mainstay, and now I let my son choose that as reading (yes, he shares them with me.) I devoured everything by Stephen King and Anne Rice when I was in high school, then my teacher got me hooked on all the classics, Kerouac and Jim Morrison poetry. Since I also studied English Literature at University, I feel like I’ve read All the Books. In fact, I think there were under 20 book on the recent top 100 of the century that I had not read.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Maybe your first comment included questionable content. Remind me to break that filter.

      Your reading was all over the place, Rore. I wasn’t much of a book worm, but the right story could snag me. Stephen King often did, and there were books in college by Lee Smith and Pat Conroy that kept me.

      What do you do when you get chapters in to a bad book?

  28. Kathy@kissingthefrog says:

    When I was little and my siblings and all the neighborhood kids would be out playing, I could be found sitting in my closet reading a book. I have just recently gotten back to reading to all my boys. They of course love to pick out their own books (Legos, Star Wars, etc…). I love reading classic novels to them. We just started Bunnicula by James Howe.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      The book was the playground, wasn’t it? Love that you’re reading to your boys again. And again, the balance – hit what they like, of the Star Wars and Lego variety, but it’s up to us to expose them to new adventures, too.

  29. Britta says:

    Oh man, I love this post! I’ve been reading since I first learned how to read. There was a time period in elementary school when I was reading a book a week (oh, if only I had time to do that now). I don’t remember most of those books as I was reading them so quickly…I definitely went through a quantity over quality phase. The earliest books I fell in love with as a child were the Little House on the Prairie Series. I also really loved the American Girl books. Harry Potter and Anne of Green Gables are two other series that stick out to me in my early years of reading. I’m so thankful I came from a household that encouraged me to read a young age. The books I read growing up profoundly shape the person I am today in many ways.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks Britta! I wish I had more time to read now – even online. I don’t get to all the posts I want to read, by a long shot.

      I think when you first find that love of reading, you want it all, right away. Choose Your Own Adventure was that book series for me. Anything with dinosaurs, too.

      Not every house is so reader friendly as yours seemed to be. I wish all were.

  30. Naila Moon says:

    I have always loved to read. When I was little, I read the Golden Books. My Mom constantly bought them for me. I read Dr. Seuss, Little House on the Prairie, Anne Frank, Little Women and Little Men, Alice in Wonderland, Black Beauty, The Hardy Boy Mysteries, Nancy Drew Mysteries…oh, the list goes on and on.
    My favorite book of all time is a book called Daddy Long-legs. I read it and re-read it. In fact, just this past year I found a copy of it and read it again!
    I was very fortunate as my parents saw reading as essential but never pushed us either. We had a whole room in our house that contained books and records. We were free to roam in there and read what we wanted and we did over and over.
    In the Summer, our school did not assign Summer reading but I still had books recommended and I read them too. My Mom always took us to the library and we were in Summer reading programs and (back in the day) when Pizza Hut supported Summer reading programs, we did that too.
    When I had my own children, I did all of that with them too. Guess what? I have kids that love to read!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I love the idea of a media room at home. Library was the fun time in elementary school. I loved the day we got to check out books. I liked that no matter who you were or what neighborhood you came from, you could check out any book in the library.

      And that there were books I loved, about dinosaurs and football, especially. And Choose Your Own Adventures.

      Glad reading was such a big part of your childhood, and that your kids have found it too. And now look – you’re a writer. That wasn’t by accident.

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