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8yr old DD refusing to read at home.

(31 Posts)
harryhausen Fri 26-Oct-12 21:55:04

I'm after a bit of advice, or just mull something over maybe.

My dd is just 8. She got a glowing report last year for her literacy levels - achieving (according to her teacher) a year above average for her reading standard. All great news. My problem is, she shows absolutely no interest in reading at home.

My career is in books. It's a huge passion for me. I've taken her to libraries and bookshops since before she could walk. We've always read a bedtime story etc. I've tried everything I can think of to find her something that sparks an interest in her long enough for her to pick up the book herself. Apart from a few half hearted reads of a couple of Roald Dahl's - I've drawn a blank. I've specifically bought her books that touch on her dog obsession but she won't even try them. I've attempted The Worst Witch, Enid Blyton, David Walliams.....nothing.

At the moment I'm reading her Harry Potter and she loves it, but when I suggest she perhaps reads a few pages herself she goes into a huge sulk.

Yet, her teachers say her reading ability is high. I really can't see how? In fact I'd much prefer her to have a bit more passion than be 'above average'. DH says I'm being paranoid and she's too young to have a real passion for reading but I think that's rubbish.

She doesn't go to a posh school, just a standard primary in a fairly average area. The school always comes middle of the leagues tables for our area. There's some real disadvantaged kids there, but some real clever kids too. She's happy at the school. The teachers aren't sure what to say about it as she's a goody two shoes at school.

Has anyone else had this? Am I worrying over nothing? I just want reading to be a pleasurable part of her life.

katecreate Fri 26-Oct-12 23:01:01

It sounds like books mean a lot to you but it may be that your DD just doesn't develop that passion. That's okay.

Maybe she enjoys spending time with you whilst you're reading to her? I wouldn't push her reading a few pages if she doesn't want to. It might turn reading into an issue. Plus, your DD is enjoying the story even if she isn't actually reading per se.

Maybe take her to a bookshop where you both choose a book of your own to read and have a little 'competition' on who's read the best book?

I don't know how your career relates to books but could you write a couple of short stories yourself where your DD's the main character?

Failing that, pretend your eyes are hurting and you'd be really grateful if she could read some pages of one of your own books!

harryhausen Fri 26-Oct-12 23:32:07

Thanks for the reply Katecreate. I think you're right that I'm perhaps over thinking it because I want her to have the love of reading I have.

I'm a professional children's book illustrator. I've got dozens of my own books on her shelves and she's never shown an interest in any of them. Talk about a bad review! grin I tend to work on picture books so they're too young for her now, but I'm very plugged in to what's new on the market and even get brand new fiction titles given to me sometimes by the publishers....I enthusiastically show her but she puts them on the shelf and never even looks at them.

I know she shouldn't be exactly like me, and she isn't at all, she's extremely off beat and quirky- but I'm so aware that being engaged in reading will boost her whole educational experience and I'm worried that because she goes to a very 'average' school she won't do the best she perhaps could.

.....but I think I'm obsessing a bit. I'll carry on reading to her and see what happens without me mentioning it.

kerrygrey Sat 27-Oct-12 06:21:12

I found that leaving the bedtime story at a real cliff-hanger often had two of mine fighting over who had the book to carry on. Disadvantage to having two very close in age for me - but might work for you.

insanityscratching Sat 27-Oct-12 06:30:17

Have you tried comics? Dd (who's an avid reader) really loves the Thursday routine of coming home to Beano and Dandy and a sweet treat, it's her favourite day of the week she says grin Maybe a comic wouldn't seem so daunting and if she enjoyed it perhaps it would prompt her to go looking for other things to read.

LoveMyBoots Sat 27-Oct-12 06:39:09

You could also try non fiction. At least she'll be reading something.

I don't think you can ever make a child have a passion for reading. Sadly for you, maybe she likes other things more. But keep trying the softly softly approach. Maybe go to the library, because that way you can try out lots of different books without spending on books that don't get read.

roisin Sat 27-Oct-12 06:50:28

I agree with kerrygrey - cliffhangers are great for this stage.
Have you read Millions to her? Frank Cotrell Boyce? Or A dog called Grk? These are just a couple of ideas of exciting books that might do the trick if you abandon the story at an appropriate point!

bigTillyMint Sat 27-Oct-12 06:51:53

8 is definitely not too young to develop a passion about books, but not all children will become passionate about reading.

We did as others have suggested with DS who was not so keen on reading when he was younger - reading to him (especially DH who he adores), comics, plenty of non-fiction as well as fiction, opportunities to reread old favourites as well as new challenges, visits to the library (and for a cake and drinkwink), visits to a special bookshop by Grandma's house... We also had a half-hour of reading time after TV and baths, etc before lights out which was (and still is to some extent) an entrenched routine.

He sometimes goes through periods of not wanting to read much, or going back to comics, etc, too!

harryhausen Sat 27-Oct-12 08:48:40

Thanks for all the replies.

Yes, I've tried comics and non fiction too. The comics just get left and with the non-fiction she just looks through the pictures. She loves the Horrible Histories programme and she bought a HH book on a trip the museum once. She read about 2 pages and left it.

The cliffhanger idea is great. As we're reading Harry Potter at the moment, nearly every chapter ends on a great cliffhanger. We went to bed a bit later last night and I said I was too tired to read, but if she was desperate to find out what happened she could read herself - then she sulked and refused.

I suppose there's not much else I can do. I will try yet another trip to the library or see if she wants to borrow off friends etc. I think I'm just really disappointed that I can't seem to share my love of books with her properly. I feel like I've failed in something quite important.

insanityscratching Sat 27-Oct-12 09:05:02

Harry I understand that disappointment that they don't share your passion. I'm an avid reader and always have been but it's only dd who's my fifth child who reads like I always have. I desperately wanted for them to read the books I read as a child but the older four were never interested. Dd though has read them all. Funnily enough two of the older ones now read all the time for pleasure whereas it was always a chore for them when younger. The other two still don't read but then again neither does dh tbh

MsPickle Sat 27-Oct-12 09:17:18

I wonder whether she just likes having the time with you and sees you asking her to fly solo as an end to that. I loved reading and books were and are my solace and favourite way to lose myself but I also remember loving being read to (and as a teen with the most painful headgear brace contraption my dad re read the jungle book to me to help me to sleep, magical!). Perhaps you could start a book club with the two of you? Short stories so nothing daunting to get through and then she gets to pick a time/place to have the discussion. So, if she is interested in a film that's on at the cinema you find a story that's a related theme and both read that then have a trip to the pictures and tall about both? What does she choose to do with her time? I only have a 3 year old so have no idea if this could work but I thought I'd share anyway. (And with him he loves his books at the moment but I worry he only sees me reading MN on my phone and papers/books on my kindle!!)

harryhausen Sat 27-Oct-12 09:48:15

Insanityscratching, thanks. It's reassuring to hear that there's still a possibility that she may come to reading for pleasure later on.

MsPickle, thank you for the mini book club suggestion. I actually think its a great idea. I'm going to give it some thought today to see how it may work. Maybe she chooses something one week (anything) and then we discuss, draw pictures etc and then I can choose something next week etc.

My dd is a highly imaginative girl who often gets accolades for her story writing at school, makes up songs, is always drawing, making up games. She has a tendency for the ghoulish. Does Brownies, very un-girly and spends lots of time dreaming up outfits that aren't pink! She's hilarious (of course I think so) and has a big talent for mimicking voices - but doesn't want to have drama lessons. Now I've written it all down, I feel really silly for 'finding' problems it seems - its just this one thing (that I love the most) just gets to me.

Really great replies though everyone. I really appreciate it.

CecilyP Sat 27-Oct-12 12:52:58

I think you are worrying and, to some extent, obsessing unecessarily. There is nothing to put one off enjoying something than someone standing over you saying, 'you must enjoy this'. Your DD must be feeling a bit overwhelmed by all these books and bookishness. So I wouldn't pile on yet more and more books and library visits in the hope that she will at last find something to tempt her.

I also know that to be a good reader for a just turned 8 year old, does not necessarily mean that you have the reading ability and reading stamina to tackle the books you would like her to read and probably not to be able to read Harry Potter independently. FWIW, I was a well above average reader at school at this age but can't say I really enjoyed reading anything, until I discovered Enid Blyton at 8.6, and in Y4 and I have never looked back. So I would back off a bit. Continue to read her a bedtime story if it is something you both enjoy, but that is all.

As long she can read, it is not the end of the world if she doesn't have a passion for books. She sounds like a busy little girl who can find plenty of things to do.

harryhausen Sat 27-Oct-12 13:56:02

Thanks CecilyP. Having re-read through and written it all down, I am sounding a bit obsessive. I think you're right and I should back off a lot! She definitely CAN read well, and I should be ok with that.

I think I get sucked into comparing her with the same age children of my friends (who are at different schools) and all their talk about their children being 'really into' reading C S Lewis, Enid Blyton and Lemony Snicket etc. I don't normally take much notice of 'competitive' comments but I think this subject just hits a nerve with me.

Thanks for letting me mull it over with you anywaysmile

SunflowersSmile Sat 27-Oct-12 14:45:30

Maybe she is reading secretly and just being a pain to wind you up because it 'matters'.
Make sure she has a torch to read naughtily under the duvet!

KitKatGirl1 Sat 27-Oct-12 16:52:58

I agree with cecilyp - If you think about it, 'one year ahead' at 8 is still a little way off from being such a good reader that she might want to tackle longer chapter books all on her own. Ds was about 8 and a half before he wanted to read 'hard' books and yet he was always 'ahead' with his reading age and also loved books and reading, just 'easy' ones til about then, such as Dr Seuss etc.

We got him into harder books (the sort that would be in 9-12 in the bookshop rather than 5-8) with the audio versions of book 1 in a series, then bought him book 2 to read, IYSWIM.

Just don't make it an issue, and continue to read to her (I still read to ds now age 12 even though he can and chooses to read adult books to himself now). I'm sure if she's going to be a 'reader' she will in her own time. The fact she loves writing is fantastic too.

Jux Sat 27-Oct-12 17:12:29

DD adores books; by the time she was in Y3 there didn't really seem to be any point in making her read aloud to me, and she didn't want to either. It felt too babyish. So I often lied in the home/school book and pretended that she had. Instead I'd read to her, while she was in the bath and when she went to bed, any time really. My instinct was to lead by example. You are already doing that.

I did speak to her teacher about reading at home, and she said that anything would do, street signs, newspapers, whatever - she wasn't worried about her. So, if I was cooking from a recipe I'd ask her to read the ingredients out to me whilst I got them, then I'd ask her to read out the weights etc as I measured things out, then she'd read me the instructions as I cooked it.

Luckily I need reading glasses. So if I was doing something without my glasses on, I could ask dd to "just read me that bit". You can be quite creative. "I've got a bit of a headache, could you have a look at the tv paper and tell me what time x is on, darling?".

Don't force her to love books as it'll have the opposite effect. There are lots of things to read apart from novels. Are there any comics she might like? Then you can graduate to comic books.

Some children just don't particularly like stories. My younger brother read only factual books from about 12yo.

(I am going to give you a book recommendation though as I can't resist it: the Lady Grace Mysteries by Grace Cavendish.)

Jux Sat 27-Oct-12 17:21:04

Poetry! Hilaire Belloc, Strewwelpeter, that sort of stuff, as she's got a taste for the ghoulish!

harryhausen Sat 27-Oct-12 18:57:05

Yes, poetry is the one thing I haven't tried. I have a lot of those already.

I will take my foot off the pedal after all your replies I think. Like I said, we're enjoying Harry Potter so will just carry on with that - me reading to her.

I wish I could find a comic she liked.

MsPickle Sat 27-Oct-12 19:31:46

If there's not a comic she likes but she likes writing and drawing why not get her making her own for you to read? That way you're sharing your interest in the written word but she's totally in charge of the content? Looking for other ideas ad characters might lead to her reading independently as well? As others have said though she sounds fab so no need to panic!

lljkk Sat 27-Oct-12 19:44:17

Middle Class Angst.
DD spent 3 or 4 months of yr2 reading nothing but Calvin & Hobbes.
If it's funny she'll read it.
If she's not reading at home, what is she doing with her time?

FishfingersAreOK Sat 27-Oct-12 20:15:50

What worked for getting DS interested in books was the lure of being able to go to bed 10 minutes later. He could have 10 minutes of extra lights on after his story tucked up in bed with a book for him to look at. Though he is only just 4 and cannot read. Still, after years of dis-interest in books now he sits in bed every night looking intently at an upsidedown book pretending to read. Books are a good thing now.

I also think you are over analysing it. She has a mother-storyteller extraordinaire grin. I know I would do anything to get you to read my story than read on my own. You could try reading in a total mono-tone - that may get her grabbing the book from you in disgust grin. Sorry, not helpful blush

I think you need to back off (no offence). If it becomes a battle (which is seems like it may already have started) she may be sulking/refusing to "fight back" as it were. If you were asking how to get your child to eat their brocolli without a doubt you would know/be told to leave it/don't turn it into a battle.

Relax. Keep going to the bookshop/library only for you to get a book. Do not get her anything. Do not ask her to chose something. Just gently suggest she sits down and waits whilst you browse. Take the pressure off. Tell her you are taking the pressure off. Let her know it is OK to enjoy books at the level/the way she wants to. And it will be difficult - bite your tongue about suggesting books.

Oh and please will you come and read our bedtime stories - you sound lovely.

TunipTheHollowVegemalLantern Sat 27-Oct-12 20:26:10

I think you have to leave it as long as she does her homework and is doing ok at school.
You've clearly done everything you can and obviously you are a very creative person so you have probably come up with more ideas than most parents would.

I angst because dd isn't nearly as good at reading as I was at her age but I can't force her. They're different people than us.

marriedinwhite Sat 27-Oct-12 22:32:08

I think you should leave it. My mother was obsessed with the food I ate as a child. It was my only weapon and I can remember being starving and sitting at the table not eating because she was fussing so much and generally not letting me eat what I needed and what I wanted. To the extent that in my 20s I suffered from an eating disorder.

Let her develop her own tastes and back off a bit. Take her to the cinema, a few musicals, paintballing, ice skating, anything that's fun and let her relax and find her own reading material.

breadandbutterfly Sat 27-Oct-12 23:10:19

My dd1 is an avid reader - dd2 much less. It turns out dd2 struggles with reading (though not noticed by school, where she is in top sets) as she has eye tracking issues and irlen Syndrome so reading gave her headaches, words blurred etc. So she read less so reading was harder eg poorer vocab. Two things helped her (apart from optometrist support she's now getting) - one was finding her own favourite books (it tuned out to be Artemis Fowl, which i haven't even read but she can't put down) and another was being given specific reading time before bed - not allowed to watch tv, play on computer etc etc and set aside for reading (of her choice). We got her a kindle - she prefers that to 'real' books and is now happily reading some of my childhood favourites too - so don't give up.

My dd2 didn't really get into reading until this last year (she's 10, yr 6 so give it time - she'll do it when ready.

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