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Is Reading a Hobby or a Chore?

When you sit down to read a book do you do so because you want to or because you have to? What about your kid (if you have one)? Or when you were a kid?

Readgab began when I realized that adults get together for book clubs, but kids do not. I realize that many kids enjoy reading as a hobby but many associate it with school. It’s a chore to them. At what point does a person go from viewing reading as a requirement to enjoying reading as a hobby?

I think that “requirement” is the key word here. When someone feels they are being forced to do something, they automatically want to do something else. Take for example Seth, now a successful general manager in the hotel industry, who enjoys reading. But he did NOT as a kid.

“I never found what I loved to read when I was younger. It felt like homework anytime I read.” How do we help those who don’t want to read change their viewpoint about reading? Seth goes on to explain, “then I realized how much I read in the way of stories in video games or articles online that were about my hobbies. I realized I read more than I thought I did.”

There is no right or wrong way to enjoy reading. Seth realized that reading doesn’t have to be the same for everybody when he discovered that he loves to listen to audio books. Sharolyn, an adult who has always enjoyed reading, said that she often finds herself “feeling guilty about not reading books that I think are thought provoking or intelligent enough.” With few exceptions, I don’t feel that anyone should feel guilty about reading for pleasure or that they are reading wrong. Reading any genre will increase your ability to think.

Another reason many kids don’t want to read is that they want to be interacting with other people. Once a child can read independently, reading involves very little interaction. But that does not have to be the case. All ages can enjoy reading as a hobby and get involved in book clubs. After having done a gab (virtual book club), one 11-year-old boy told his parents, “it was neat to be able to talk with other kids about a fun book without going somewhere or getting a ride to be together.” A youth wouldn’t think to organize a book club with friends, but given the opportunity, they may find that they really like discussing a book with others their age.

At the end of one of my first gabs I asked the group of 9-11 year olds what they thought of the experience. One responded, “I had a lot of fun! I liked that it was just fun. You know? That I wasn’t learning anything. That it was just for fun!”

Isn’t it great to have kids get together and just enjoy reading? And did they learn anything? Of course they did! They increased their ability to communicate with other people by sharing their thoughts about what they read. They increased their intellectual abilities as they answered higher level thinking questions. They increased their ability to read well. They increased their vocabulary, which is something that happens every time you read or someone reads to you. The list goes on and on, and I have included some links at the bottom for further reading about the benefits of reading.

Do parents ever slip a fast one past their kids? Offer them something that seems appealing, but has ulterior motives? I know a lot of people who sneak vegetables into quesadillas or even brownies. I put big handfuls of spinach into our smoothies. It makes them green, sometimes even brown. But spinach doesn’t change the flavor and my kids love the smoothies! Just because they are enjoying something sweet, does it diminish the nutritional value of the spinach? Nope. And the educational value of reading isn’t lost when a child reads for pleasure.

Think of Readgab as a tool to enjoy reading similar to that of using audio books to enjoy reading. Just like paying to listen to someone read a story to you, you pay to have someone who has already researched and created questions to engage you or your child in enjoyable discussion.

Reading has limitless benefits, but what of the motivators? How do we produce more lifelong readers? Readers who love to read? What do you think are ways to help more people embrace reading as a hobby?

Do you (and/or your child) read for pleasure? Why/why not? What do you think makes someone want to read?

Please share comments below.

1 Comment

  • I read for fun all the time. I think it’s important to let my kids see that, and I try and inject things from what I read into our daily conversation. Like “oh, I just read the funniest story…” I don’t hide my excitement when I go to pick up a new book I’ve been waiting for. I hope to get them in the mindset that reading is fun.

    Libraries are great for this. They have so many fun programs to get kids excited about reading. Whenever we are at the library, I make sure to point out all the different types of books. If my kids have a question about something I don’t have the answer to, I love to say, “let’s go look it up! Let’s go read about it!” (If I do know the answer… I sometimes point out that I read about it myself!)

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