We really try and encourage reading in our house- we've got shelves heaving with books for all ages and stages, and I've read aloud to the children since they were no age at all. That said, I've usually found that a child usually only chooses to read after checking first that the iPad, the DS, Minecraft and the TV are all off limits.
Why? Because they're the easier, lazier option, requiring no real effort at all. I have to confess that they can also be really really useful, and I'm as guilty as anyone in relying on them when it suits me, but deep down I know they're no substitute at all for reading.
As a child, I loved to escape into books (and my Granny's Women's Own magazine) but then again, I didn't have all those other distractions vying for my attention. In recent years, I've read less than I should - less time to sit down is the official reason, but zoning out on the iPad may be the more truthful one. In regard to the former, I finally discovered audiobooks, so now I download them on my iPhone and it's such a luxury to be read to while walking, cleaning or driving. But is it multitasking at its very best, or the absolute height of laziness? I can't decide.
Of the children, some are naturally drawn to the books on their bookshelves, while others (well, one in particular) would rather do almost anything else -for example, a recent excuse was ' But I can't read now, I have to cut my toenails.' A surprising choice I thought, given his usual complete disregard for personal grooming of any type.
Believe me, finding books that appeal to this particular boy is a real challenge, and then last week while tidying and rejigging the shelves, I came upon an old favourite that had belonged to his older brother. My Dad - an old pro at choosing age appropriate books had bought it for him a few years back and I'd forgotten all about it.
It's called 'The Rover Adventures' by the inimitable Roddy Doyle- this copy has three books in one. Perfect for boys because it focuses a lot on dog poo, it's a whole lot of fun, and for the first time ever, his response when I ask him to read isn't a deep groan or a 'Nooooooo!', or a 'Can't we do it tomorrow instead?'
It's original, funny and clever, the pictures are fabulous and importantly it has really short chapters - this boy checks the
chapter length and initiates negotiations on number of pages he has to
read before he even gets started. Best of all, when my boy's reading AND smiling, I know I'm on to a winner.