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It's Read Across America Day

I expect that school-age reluctant readers probably dislike Read Across America Day, because it's yet one more day when well-meaning parents and educators shove a book in their hands.

Two young readersI've lived and breathed books since I can remember. When I was a kid, my parents used to force me to put down my book and play with my friends for fear that I would read all day and have no social life. I started writing when I was in my teens, and I've worked in the book biz since the day after I graduated from college with my shiny, new English degree.

So when my young daughter showed no signs whatsoever of liking books, I panicked. Not because I was worried she couldn't read—I figured that she'd learn at some point—but because she was missing out on so much. Whether it was The Chronicles of Prydain, Little House on the Prairie (though after rereading books one and two, I now believe Pa was off his rocker), or Howliday Inn—nothing I read aloud to her or put in her hands caught her interest. I clearly remember one day when the two of us sat on the couch together, her reading The Hobbit and me reading a sci-fi book, and I thought happily, "This is a memory I'm going to hold close for life." And indeed I do, because when the thirty-minute reading timer went off, she threw down The Hobbit and said with disgust, "Well, that was boring."

But then she watched the Harry Potter movies. And listened to the Harry Potter audiobooks. And then, slowly but with gathering steam, she read the Harry Potter books (at least until they got too large and less action-packed, around book 5). She dived into the Amulet graphic novels and barely came up for air for days. She started the Percy Jackson books, soon moving on to the rest of Rick Riordan's novels. Now she's telling me—me!—when the next Riordan book is coming out. (It's The Trials of Apollo on May 3, folks. Make a note.)

So if you have a reluctant reader, my advice is to stay patient. And encourage your kid to read whatever style book catches his or her attention, whether it's nonfiction, fiction, poetry, or graphic novels. They all tell stories in their own unique ways. Read Across America Day was inspired by Dr. Seuss's birthday, and it's worth remembering that Seuss didn't do the same thing other authors were doing: He chose to tell his stories in new ways with very strange creatures. So it's not so strange that as readers, we come to books in different ways as well. Nurturing a love of story and storytelling—not the ability to consume thousands of words—is what we should aim for.

So do enjoy Read Across America Day, but don't do what I did and pressure your kid to read The Hobbit when he really wants to read Naruto. Reading can be a lifelong passion, and we all take different paths to find the stories we love to read.


Click below to find deals on books in celebration of Read Across America Day.



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