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How to Get Your Screen-Loving Kids to Read Books for Pleasure Kindle Edition
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The book is divided, broadly, along three lines: why and how to get kids to read, and some of the mechanics and psychology involved in reading. The why portion is short and to the point, in essence: a highly technical, and rapidly technologizing world requires peoples to be adept readers of all sorts of text. The how portion occupies the bulk of the book, detailing how to get kids to read at home, at school, and in other settings. The last portion, the mechanics and psychology involved in reading processes, is largely skimmed over and somewhat over-simplified.
The explanation of why kids need to be reading comes across as a mix of self-deprecation, authoritarianism, and moralizing. At times, Newton seems to put herself down as a parent and criticizes her own abilities to get her children to read. She also expresses a sometimes common view about parenting: that children need to adhere to a list of activities and behaviors or else the parents will have failed at parenting and the children will grow up to be complete failures. Reading is thrown in with that list of things children must do to prevent such catastrophe.
Examining how to get kids to read takes up the bulk of the book, and contains many excellent suggestions. Given the variety of suggestions, something would surely work for just about any particular situation. There are a few issues with the suggested book lists she provides (for example, the Twilight series seems to be set for a rather young audience--Age Twelve and Up). Aside from the reading lists, the advice comes down to having your child pick a book that interests them.
The neurology and psychology sections of the book are largely glossed over and simplified, some of which makes sense. However, the explanations behind “hi-lo” books, “high-interest books written at a lower reading level,” could read as demeaning to those with learning differences or intellectual impairments. Simultaneously, Newton gives overly-optimistic advice to a question in her book, “My daughter is in eighth grade and reading at fifth-grade level. She feels like there is no point in trying to read since she will never catch up to her peers. How can I encourage her?” The suggestions provided could be viewed as falling into a common trap of conflating reading level with socio-emotional level: the young teenager in the example question does not need to be treated like a ten-year-old.
How to Get Your Screen-Loving Kids to Read Books for Pleasure, is intended for parents, teachers, and care-givers of young children through adolescents. There are a number of issues with the book, but the good intentions are there -- some children really struggle to read, others need help finding good and enjoyable things to read, and this book can provide some guidance for both issues.
The author has dedicated this book “To Rick, and everyone who promotes reading” and quite frankly has tackled a subject that has been frustrating educators particularly for many years. As she quotes, the gradual acceleration of amount of homework, acquisition of smartphones, boy/girlfriends, sports, jobs, college preparation and more seem to have resulted in only 17 % of 17-year-olds vs. 53% of 9-year-olds who today are daily readers. Also, the proportion of children who “never” or “hardly ever” read has tripled in the last thirty years. So, from the very personal position of being faced with the problem, she has approached the subject in a truly thoughtful and remarkably thorough manner. Following a fact filled Introduction, the book is split into 2 parts. The first includes a review and offering to firmly grasp and understand reading motivations and challenges; Why you should encourage children to read for pleasure; Understanding types of readers and promotion of the activity; Reading and learning differences and What counts as “real” reading. Part Two really gets into the ‘nitty-gritty’ of this really horrendous problem by describing the “Carrying Out a Reading Project”. Here, seven more detailed chapters introduce Reading for pleasure and ways to approach the tough job of ‘selling its benefits’; Finding the right book as a ‘hook’; Providing access to and making more interesting, this activity area; The very difficult problem of whether or not to provide rewards; Summer reading and travel; What to do about ‘pleasure reading’ with return to the active school year; and still four more chapters with important considerations. There follows even more important suggestions in an Epilogue and an excellent list of Resource books and websites to add to the already wonderfully detailed lists provided within the chapters themselves that split suggested books/magazines and websites for readers by age; e.g. 10 years and up, 12 years and up, etc. to teenagers and Young Adults.
Summary: The author courageously has attacked a significant problem facing much of today’s ‘TV/technically oriented play station children’. And I say courageously when thinking about the suggestions spread through the text such as limiting hours of technical equipment usage by the “screen-loving kids” and other thoughts. Her suggestions in Chapter 12 on ‘Fake News’ are particularly appropriate when one recalls an unbelievable news report this morning that a man who does not believe in the Holocaust is a candidate for election to the United States House of Representatives. We can only assume (hope?) that this is an example of the fake variety she discusses in this Chapter entitled “Reading Real and Fake News: Why You Should Care Whether Your Kid Can Tell the Difference.”