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My nearly 14 yo will only read manga

(21 Posts)
BigBirdFlies Tue 10-Jun-14 11:33:27

She's about to go into Y10, and no longer will read for pleasure. Books that she will read are ones that she has read before that are not demanding. She's very squeamish about kissing etc, so most books aimed at girls her age are out. She liked The Dead, The Hunger Games, Divergent (first book only).

She used to be such a good reader. We read to her every night up until Y6 and she would snatch the books off us. She read the Hobbit, His Dark Materials, even some Dickens. Since starting secondary school, she found that the demands of homework made her want to read less, and the books that she does read got less demanding. Her English teacher has noted that her vocabulary is rather poor, and I think she will struggle with her GCSE's.

She loves art, and draws manga constantly, likes cosplay, comic con etc. She also likes anime and watches a lot of it - she's seen all the Naruto episodes, and there are 100's of them shock. Her concentration span is poor, and she will not give a book a chance unless it draws her in within about 2 pages. She maintains manga are proper books, whereas I say they can be read alongside traditional books but not instead of them.

I'm tempted to ban TV, computer and iPad but then that will make reading a punishment <sigh>

BigBirdFlies Tue 10-Jun-14 11:35:23

She was a L5 reader in Y6. At the beginning of Y9 her teacher said she was still a L5, although she has raised to a L6b in her end of year report.

Bowlersarm Tue 10-Jun-14 11:36:56

Two boys here, and yep, pretty much all they read. In fact over the summer, they have a plan that one of them is having a to at manga story writing and the other one is going to draw the pictures. I thought it was quite a nice project for the summer, actually.

BertieBotts Tue 10-Jun-14 11:38:05

What's wrong with reading manga?

People obsess too much over reading. Relax. She'll either get into it later, or she won't and the world won't explode. You know that she CAN read, so whether she chooses to do so or not is up to her now.

Would you worry in the same way if she wasn't interested in swimming or cycling, for example?

scotchtikidoll Tue 10-Jun-14 11:41:19

I think that she sounds highly intelligent, with really cool pursuits that seem to incorporate a creative flair. Why should she read things that shedoesn't want to? Isn't that besides the point? You are doing well to have a 14 year old who actually has engaging hobbies. My brother is 15 and sits on his ass all day, playing video games.

In the nicest way possible, you sound a bit pushy. Celebrate her interests and encourage them, rather than dumping on her for the ones that she doesn't do.

Secondary school forces you to read books that aren't necessarily of interest to you, which may have sucked the joy out of it for her. As long as her homework is getting done... well, that is all you can ask for really. Does she complete her reading assignments?

Knottyknitter Tue 10-Jun-14 11:46:21

I wouldn't worry.

I went from a free reader in reception to reading about 3 easy books in a year at that stage of secondary, mainly because of the volume of bookwork involved as homework, complicated reading just wasn't downtime. That was also the stage they discovered my lazy eye, so may be worth a trip to the optician to rule out soreness on close work.

I now can't go anywhere without my kindle, and have an embarrassingly large pile of books in the flat, but still love the old favourites for true relaxation reading-for-pleasure time. If she has things she enjoys reading, then encourage from there, it will be counterproductive to make reading a chore.

Have picked up two degrees, two postgrad diplomas and a postgrad certificate on the way though, so not an academic disaster really <wink>

Merrylegs Tue 10-Jun-14 11:59:33

I don't think you can force someone to read - and she does read, just not conventional line by line books. Manga still has a story and structure

DS is the same - I don't think he has ever read a 'proper' book - but still managed an A* in GCSE eng lit and an A in lang. last year (which might say more about GCSEs rather than his ability, but something about form, story, structure, language etc must have gone in!)

If you think she is not reading enough 'conventional' literature, perhaps she woud like graphic novel versions of books like Alex Ryder, or Neil Gaiman's Coraline for eg.

catsrus Tue 10-Jun-14 12:17:08

relax - I devoured mainly comics, not books, until my late teens - I now have a PhD grin

IHeartKingThistle Tue 10-Jun-14 12:22:52

Merry as an aside I mark English Literature GCSEs and it is VERY hard to get an A* - I'd say all that early reading paid off!

YellowStripe Tue 10-Jun-14 12:24:49

If she liked Divergent etc, try her on Michael Grant's "Gone" series. I read pretty much a book a night - unputdownable!

BigBirdFlies Tue 10-Jun-14 12:37:31

Maybe I'm a bit pushy, but not hugely so, otherwise I wouldn't let her have 2-3 hours a day downtime on the iPad. I'm just concerned that her English teacher flagged her poor vocabulary.

She is an absolutely super girl and does have a flair for art. She's at an academic school and is probably one of the lower achievers there, but her art teacher loves her. Strangely enough, she doesn't like him because she feels embarrassed about being complimented on her work confused. She had to read To Kill a Mockingbird last summer, and absolutely hated it, but I remember loving that book.

Booksteensmagazines Tue 10-Jun-14 17:18:07

Its not unusual for reading to fail off in teenagers and I can understand its a worry because of the vocabulary etc.

As to her needing to be drawn in by the first couple of pages that is normal - I just read an article where an author said that teenagers are the hardest audience to write for because they are demanding and they won't persevere with books they don't like!

Manga is becoming very popular - here is an article from the Guardian about Teens and Manga:

I understand your thoughts about her reading levels and in an ideal world it would be great to see her read both Manga and books. But the hardest thing about reading is that it can't be forced. There are lots of good books for her age out there and hopefully she just needs to find books that grab her attention - but try not to make it a battle. There have been some books like Tinder by Sally Gardner that include a story and amazing illustrations - perhaps that would appeal?

If you would like to see her vocab improve - would she read magazines? There isn't a great choice for teenagers but you may be able to find an art based one that would interest her.

To Kill a Mockingbird is a lovely book but many readers find it difficult to follow - I don't know where you are based but the open air theatre at Regents Park has an excellent production of it which might make her see the book differently:

BigfootFiles Tue 10-Jun-14 17:23:29

You could point her at these: grin

I wouldn't worry, tbh. I was mostly reading Point Horror and Stephen King at age 14, and still managed to get A* in English and English Lit back in the day. My tastes have changed since!

Ragwort Tue 10-Jun-14 17:27:28

What's Manga blush?

My 13 year old never reads for pleasure - it makes me smile when you read all the threads on mumsnet on the importance of reading to your child every night, letting your child see you read etc etc.

We always read to our DS, took him to every library reading scheme, bought him loads of lovely books, DH and I are always reading but in the last couple of years I have never seen him read anything except the sports section of the (broadsheet grin thank goodness) newspaper.

He seems to get good grades in English and the rest of his subjects (no idea how) so I try not to worry !

DPotter Tue 10-Jun-14 17:46:23

Leave the girl be!
She'll be having to read a whole load of books for her GCSEs so let her have some downtime

rinabean Tue 10-Jun-14 17:50:23

She's at an academic school and is probably one of the lower achievers there
"I got her into a good school, but she's not as academic as I am, which is a disappointment to me"

but her art teacher loves her. Strangely enough, she doesn't like him because she feels embarrassed about being complimented on her work confused.
"She feels incompetent and like a failure because she's not the best student at her school and this bothers me and she knows it, so she lacks self-worth. This is also a disappointment to me"

She had to read To Kill a Mockingbird last summer, and absolutely hated it, but I remember loving that book.
"She doesn't like everything that I like. She's not a carbon copy of me and I don't understand. This is another disappointment to me"

I'm being harsh because I don't think you mean to be this way. I don't think you want to alienate your daughter, you do seem more baffled than mean, but it's still affecting her negatively. You are too pushy (2-3 hours of free time a day is really very little for a child) and you are making something out of nothing. Your daughter reads for pleasure, that's great, that's a great thing. You say you don't want to make reading a punishment but you're already trying to make it a chore, which it shouldn't be. Talk to her about her favourite manga and try to find books with similar themes. You can't keep assuming she'll like every book you liked. It must be hard for her to not be interested in the romance stories her friends are interested in or the classics her mother is.

Maybe try goodreads or something like that, add the manga she likes and some novels ought to start coming up as suggestions of what other people liked too.

BertieBotts Tue 10-Jun-14 21:15:38

Manga are Japanese comics.

I just think people are odd about reading like it's some endlessly worthy pursuit which is better than all others. I like reading, have always loved it but I like to do other things as well and have been through stages of my life where I didn't read as much as others.

She can pick up vocabulary from films, articles, real life. Even manga grin Not just a specific category of books.

I hated all of my GCSE English texts. Happened to come across one in a different context as an adult and liked it. I think it's the forced reading and analysing every half sentence which put me off.

BigBirdFlies Thu 12-Jun-14 13:14:02

Well I've been flamed, and there was me wondering whether to post this in AIBU wink

Sadly I'm no literary genius, my grade D English A'Level proves this. Anyway good news, she got her English end of year exam back and scored 7c grin. She was delighted with this and so was her English teacher.

I think Mr Gove would love her because she told me she can't get on with American classics. She hated Of Mice and Men (actually it is quite gruelling), but has been looking at Great Expectations and has noted that Dickens knew how to tell a story and invent interesting characters. I mean don't get me wrong, she hasn't read it, but has skimmed it.

So I'm feeling a bit reassured. It's also nice to know that other teenagers don't read. I guess when I was a teen TV was mostly boring, so it was either read or listen to Smiths songs in the dark reflecting on how miserable I was. I'll have a look at some of the suggestions upthread, thanks to everyone who provided these.

bigTillyMint Thu 12-Jun-14 13:20:16

I think a lot of teens give up reading - DD and DS were avid readers until secondary and they were deluged with homeworksad

The English curriculum has not excited them at all, GCSE even less so.

Glad to hear her level is 7C - despite not really reading for pleasure any more, mine seem to be doing OK with English.

BigBirdFlies Thu 12-Jun-14 13:40:37

Exactly the same bTM, secondary education does seem to stop children reading because of homework. Oh well, I guess no harm done, and I suppose we all have different hobbies and interests.

lljkk Thu 12-Jun-14 13:44:53

Mine was keen reader until he got an iPad (sigh).
He'll still read the odd Warhammer novel or Andy McNab book.
Oh, and Calvin & Hobbes. Still a hit.

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