Why Johnny can't read

Maybe it’s because his parents don’t. Do you read? Do you read to your kids? If you had kids would you read to them?

One of the very first memories I have is that of being read to by my parents. My young world was filled with books. I think this is one of the most important activities you can share with your child. What about you?

Even though I don’t have children of my own I read to the kids in my neighborhood and also run a “writers” group. They (and I) write stories to share with each other. Now that winter is coming I know we won’t meet out on my lawn much for this activity. I will miss it.

Reading and writing is a gift from the gods.

My wife and I took turns reading to my son at an early age. He’s away in law school, but when he comes to visit, his suitcase only contains two things: books and dirty laundry.

If your a parent, read to your children. You’ll never regret it, and neither will they.

This space for rent.

Your and you’re always screw me up. Is it a mental block, or am I just stupid?

It’s a rhetorical question. No need to answer.

I don’t have kids, but I do have a 4 year old nephew. I’ve made it a kind of tradition to get him books for his birthday. (I still get toys for him at Christmas, though.) I’ve read to him a few times, and now he is starting to read himself.

I remember with a lot of fondness the books I had as a child. Of course we had several of the requisite Dr. Suess books, but my parents had belonged to a children’s book club. We had several that I can’t even seem to find anymore. We also had a first edition of Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are. Many people I’ve mentioned this to are surprised that it first appeared in the 70’s.

I’ve gotten even more surprise when telling folks that “Goodnight Moon” was originally printed in 1947. It’s still around today.

I remember reading one to my (at the time) three year old nephew. It was a Native American Indian story. I don’t remember the title but it was about this mother who always said something like, “I will always love you, you are my little boy”. It ends up with her dying as an old woman. I cried. It was so sweet, so touching. I hope someone out here knows about it and can tell me what it was called.

I was reading Dr. Suess books by myself when I was two years old. Mom used to read them aloud while following the words with her finger. It didn’t take long for the connection to happen.

I plan to do the same with my children, when I have some. :slight_smile:
– Sylence

And now, for my next trick, I will talk in spooky half-references.

I was one of those kids who would hide a book under the pillow for secret late-night reading.

On my own, I taught my sister to read (she was about 3, I was about 5). Boy were my parents surprised!

I practically lived in the ‘big kids’ library in grade school.

It really saddens me to know that the joy of reading is all but lost on so many kids today. Instead, they sit for hours upon hours slack-jawed in front of a TV or video game.

These kids will miss out on the worlds of imagination found in books. Finding a character that seems so real that he or she speaks to your heart. Worlds of adventure. Fascinating biography. I could go on and on, but I realize I’m preaching to the choir on this board :).

When my children were younger, I made it a priority to not have a tv. Now that they’ve grown older, the tv still stays off and they become upset if there isn’t anything new to read.

I read to my kids to an almost ridiculous degree, and when I’m not reading to them I usually have MY schnozz in a book.

Just so you know, it works…my 9-year old daughter is a bona fide bookworm, and started reading herself at a very early age. I’ll keep you updated as to my 3-year-old son’s progress.

I also recommend reading things that might be considered a few years too old for them. My daughter loved THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS at five.

I also buy them books almost as often as I buy myself books (usually more than once a week). And gifts for other kids’ birthday parties are ALWAYS books, even when the parent tells me “Little Pequod isn’t much of a reader, I’m afraid.” Little Pequod often surprises them.

Remember, though…I’m a professional book person. This may look all very commendable to you, but I see myself as an insidious Dope Peddler…“First one’s free, kid!”


I remember as a kindergardener, staying up to the wee hours of the night in front of a dim night-light reading. Favorite item was Cricket magazine, the first item I ever got mailed to me in my name.

All these years later, I still love reading, and have terrible eye-sight!

When I was married and acting as good step-dad, the first CD-Rom I bought was a reading helper for my then-wife’s seven year old.

I got no greater thrill in life than helping her learn to read, and she got no greater thrill than having me turn on the computer to help her do this.

I still can remember her watching me read a book or magazine, and saying, “I want to read like you do!”

I don’t miss my ex, but I do miss Amber… sigh

Yer pal,

Dr. Seuss seems to be the gateway reading for children. He certainly was for me, and he continued to be one of my favorite authors until I was around 11 or 12.

I owe him a lot; even though I’m currently at a job where I do absolutely no writing, it was he who inspired me to start writing on my own, and he who gave me the gift of literacy.

On the shelf next to my bed, in a frame, is a
corner of a newspaper from the day he died. It shows an illustration from the Cat in the Hat; I believe the Cat’s been told to leave the house (“He should NOT be here when your mother is out!”). He’s cluthching his hat and umbrella, and staring dejectedly at the floor. Next to him are the words, “Then he said that is that, and the he was gone.”

It’s one of my most important possessions.

I don’t have any of my own kids yet, but they’ll be read to daily, until they can read on their own. And you can bet he’ll be the first books the have.

“I’m still here, asshole!”-Angus Bethune

Byzantine –

I think the book you’re talking about is called “Love You Forever.” I don’t remember the author’s name, but the friendly folks at your local kids’ bookstore should be able to tell you.

Does anybody know where you can get copies of the “Jenny and the Cat Club” books by Esther Averill? My dad read them to me when I was three or four; they were out of print even then (late 1970’s), but still available in libraries. Nowadays they’re literally impossible to find (believe me, I’ve tried; even the used-book Internet sites have been drawing blanks).

Warning: Cute kid story ahead

My son learned to read pretty early. He was about four, and he could read and pronouce the names of lots of dinosaurs. He ran up against a new one, and he asked me what it was. I said, “That’s an archaeopteryx. Can you say Ar-kee-op-ter-icks?” He thought for a moment and said, “I’ll say that when my mouth gets bigger.”

Funny, I can’t send him to his room anymore for a 5 minute timeout because he just digs out a book and stays in there for half an hour.

It makes me smile when I hear him cracking up at something he read. He’s commandeered all of my Calvin and Hobbes collection, and now he’s got his eyes on my Heinlein hardcovers.

To me, reading falls right in there with the most basic necessities. And reading to a little kid, especially your own, is truly one of life’s greatest pleasures.

My parents read to me every night as a child. When I was about 3 years old, I started “reading” to them. They encouraged me, and I’ve had my nose stuck in a book pretty much ever since.

I’ve been reading to my daughter since she was about 4 or 5 months old (prior to that, I would sing…but I’m a crappy singer, so I quit that). She loves it. Her baby brother likes it too…he settles down when I start reading aloud.

I hope my kids continue to read as they get older, I really do. I intend to stress the importance of reading real books, even in this electronic age. The Internet is great, but there’s nothing like a good book.

OK, Fretful, what’s Jenny and the Cat Club? The name is frightfully familiar… I must have read 'em when I’m a kid but I’m only getting vague memories toying with me and making me mad. Plot summary, please.

I read more than anyone I know. I’m guessing a lot of the Straight Dopers can say the same. My Mom and my aunts always read to me as a kid, and they read, too. I don’t think I could live without books - I actually am in the process of turning the formal living room in my house into a library (who the heck needs a formal living room? And where can I put my books if I don’t have a library?)

I know a couple who are home schooling their two sons. One of them was about 11 the last time I saw him ( a few years ago, these aren’t really great friends of mine ) and he couldn’t read. Their explanation was that he’d read when he was ready to… as far as I’m concerned this is child abuse.

LOVE YOU FOREVER is by Robert Munsch.

It’s a VERY controversial children’s picture book…some people say it’s a heartrending tale of a mother’s unconditional love for her son, others say it’s a twisted story of a crazed old woman who can’t permit her child to mature. There’s 82 comments-worth of argument on the Amazon webiste, if you’re interested.

I find it a little disturbing, myself…beginning with the image of the mother crawling across the bedroom floor towards her sleeping son’s bed, like some ghastly nightmare.

But I find Shel Silverstein’s THE GIVING TREE depressing, too…the idea of being someday completely USED UP by my children frightens me.


Uke said:

Didja ever see the Spider Robinson quote that compares librarians to dope pushers on getting kids hooked? Hilarious…

Anyway, I’ve been reading since I was three. The three kids for whom I have transferred grandparent syndrome are seven, four, and three. The oldest, a little redheaded cutie, regularly reads to me whenever I can take the time to sit with her, and the two boys snuggle up to us. The older boy is beginning to connect those marks on the paper with the stories he loves, and it’s great to watch! :slight_smile:

My parents also read to me constantly when I was a child, and I eventually taught myself to read. (I, like the Adversary, had a “Cricket” subscribtion.) Today, I can’t eat (really!!!) without reading something at the same time. My nose is always in a book, newspaper, magazine… .

But it seems I’m one of the only people I know who reads–period. Most of my friends don’t like to read, or they find it a chore, whatever. I don’t get it. How can they not spend any time at all reading?

It’s a long way to heaven, but only three short steps to hell.

Hello everybuggy:

I’ve already read to my son, and he’s still got one month before I see him “in person” (ultrasounds don’t count).

Yes, I had the Cricket subscription, too. Did any of you notice that John Ciardi (frequent Cricket writer) died recently? I also grew up with Ranger Rick.

Indeed, I was a budding bookworm growing up in east TN when my parents moved us to NYC (I was in 4th grade). I hated NYC so much that I wouldn’t leave the apartment. In desperation, my mother enticed me to the Doubleday bookstore on 5th avenue with the promise of all the paperback books I wanted. She was as good as her word – she left her mastercard with the guy at the counter, said (pointing at me) “He can have whatever he wants”, and left me alone for what seemed like hours. All I did for 2 years was go to school and read. By the time we got back to TN I was a major league nerd.

I hope to read to my son as much as my Mom read to me. I can still remember sitting on her bed listening to Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators (Jupiter, Bob and ??) “Mystery of the Crooked Cat.” That and “Fish Out of Water” – now THERE’s a classic.


As far back as I can remember, my mother read to me every night. She sat me in her lap so that I could see the book and follow along. In this way, I learned to read before I even got to kindergarten. I was another one of those kids who always stayed up way past their bedtime reading. (I, too, have rotten eyesight.) I also wrote my own stories. I recently found one that I wrote when I was four. Damned if I can make heads or tails of it. I wrote it, though, and I was extremely proud of it at the time. These habits continue to this day. When I started college and moved into the dorms, I didn’t bring a TV, but I brought plenty of books and shelves to keep them on. The Internet may be the wave of the future, but as far as I’m concerned, it will never replace books. Besides, can you imagine what will happen when people start learning to read from the Internet? I have one word: “sux”.

Modest? You bet I’m modest! I am the queen of modesty!