This is a very interesting conversation. I personally fall somewhere in between. I think there’s value to the reading kids (and adults!) are doing online. I was disturbed though by the mother who was quoted as saying, “I’m just pleased that she reads something anymore.” This comment is indicative of the throw our hands up kind of approach to parenting that seems so common.
I’d drag my son kicking and screaming to our regular Sundays spent slouched in the comfy chairs at Border’s reading with my little sister, his favorite Aunt. In fact, the first couple of times I kind of did. He wasn’t focused. He kept asking how much longer. I persisted, remained gentle, but firm. My sister and I kept sharing lines we liked and laughing out loud at the parts we thought were funny. (We were all reading Christopher Moore.) We ignored the whining and encouraged the enthusiasm. We, without really planning it out or anything, modeled over and over our enthusiasm for reading. He had nowhere to go to escape the experience. He was stuck. And if you ask him today he’ll tell you, of course–he’s almost 13–that he doesn’t like Sundays spent reading. However, the fact that he can now focus on a book in a crowded room, read for hours at a time, and pose better questions and responses about what he’s reading and that when we’re there he’s smiling, assures me that my inclination that in this instance I’m the parent and I know best is dead on. There’s so much about reading that is a skill that must be learned. It bothers me that as a culture we seem to fear making our kids struggle, do things they perhaps don’t want to do.