Monday, June 21, 2010

Not Too Late To Become A Reader

After our son had talked with his dad on Father's Day, I spent some time on the phone with Kirk. He lives 7 1/2 hours away in Dallas, so our weekly phone visit helps keep us in touch with him and his family. We'd chatted about a number of things when I told him he'd better get back to watching the golf tournament on TV.

He said, "Wait! I have something else to talk about." And then he proceeded to tell me he'd discovered the wonderful world of reading. It's a good thing I was sitting down, or I'd have fallen face-first on the kitchen floor upon hearing that proclamation from my 42 year old son. As a small child, he loved having me read picture books to him. As he got older, he did the required reading at school, but he seldom picked up a book at home, despite my encouragement. Oh, all right, call it what it was--nagging!  He spent his leisure time playing football, basketball, baseball, golf--whatever sport was in season. Or in front the TV.

I did all I could to encourage reading, hoping he'd establish a lifetime habit. But I can only say I was a dismal failure in that effort. Being a constant reader myself, it's hard for me to understand why anyone would not feel the same about books as I do. I pointed out over and over that books can take us to all kinds of places we'd never otherwise see, and that they can bring us wonderful entertainment in our own home. It all fell on deaf ears, as he tuned me out.

Kirk continued to do the required reading in high school and college, but once onto his career path, his reading was confined to the newspaper and work-related publications. But here he was--telling me he'd become a reader. Like his wife. Like his older daughter. Like his younger daughter. (Like his mother!)

When I asked for some more details, he told me he had been noticing that his mind worked fine at work, but once home he seemed to turn it off. Didn't pay attention and missed some of what his family was telling him. He began to be concerned that maybe he wasn't exercising his mind enough, and that was the trigger that started him reading. He said that once he got started, he found books to be fascinating, and when he finished one, he'd be on to another.

His fourteen year old daughter began recommending books he should read. She has been a strong reader and moved beyond childrens' books long ago. What a nice thing for a dad and daughter to do, I thought. Talk about books, recommend books and then most likely discuss the book when both had read it. Same with Kirk's wife. It's almost a family book club.

Kirk knew I'd be thrilled with his new habit, and I am. So as mothers of young children who balk at reading for pleasure, we shouldn't despair. Maybe all the groudwork I laid many years ago is finally coming to fruition.

I fully agree with his assesmment that we need to exercise our minds as well as our bodies. I've long been a proponent of that premise. It's one reason that in addition to reading books regularly, I also play Bridge and do crossword puzzles. Both those activities are fine mind sharpeners. I doubt I'd ever get him to play Bridge, but maybe crossword puzzles. Guess I'd better wait awhile on that one.

1 comment:

  1. So there may be hope for my son. I read to mine when they were young and always encouraged reading, okay I'll admit to a bit of nagging myself, but my son still limits his reading to the newspaper and work related subjects. My daughter does read, but not voraciously like her mother. However, her children all read and enjoy it. I have to smile when she encourages/nags them, just like her mother.