I gave my kids a gift and they hate it.

Stand back and take cover because I’m on a bit of a rant.

I got up this morning and pretty soon after I stood up life began to throw a number of challenges at me. I ducked and dived, rescheduled, mopped up and re organised my day, all before 9 am. Realising I wasn’t coping too well I decided to boil the kettle and take time out. Nothing like a cup of tea to re set my dial to chill out.

Sitting in my empty, peaceful kitchen I took a deep breath and enjoyed the first sip of hot tea. Without thinking I reached for my phone and thumbed through facebook. Fatal error. I read not one but two beautifully created posts both giving the same message,

‘One of the most important gifts a parent can give a child is the gift of reading’

Why does that send me into a rage I hear you ask? Is that not true? Do I not agree?

Before having children I passionately believed this. As a child my mum told us many bedtime stories so vivid they either terrified us or led us to tears. We were brought to the library every fortnight and got money for comics each week. Many nights I remember reading a book with one ear on high alert for footsteps on the stairs, in case my parents caught me reading after bed time. I grew up to love both reading and books.

Then I too had children. I did all the above and enjoyed every minute, reliving my childhood as I read old favourites to my little ones, along with a whole library of new titles. As the years passed we discovered two of our four children had dyslexia. For them reading was a struggle and certainly no pleasure. The books they could read were below the age group they would enjoy. Instead I read to them, long past the age a parent would usually do so, before suggesting they try audio books.

By the time I finished reading to the last child I’d been reading my children stories for twenty years. Yes, twenty years!

And what reward did I get for taking the time to hand deliver the gift of reading to them for twenty years? I got four children, none of whom enjoy reading.

So perhaps you now understand when I read posts about giving our children the precious gift that is the love of reading, why I fume. Itphoto credit: sean dreilinger <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/43927576@N00/4050686744">sometimes mom is done with storytime and ready for bed before the kids -  _MG_6769.embed</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">(license)</a> didn’t work. Perhaps I’m the exception to the rule? I know all the years I was reading them stories they seemed to really enjoy them. Looking back I don’t believe I could have done anything more. It’s a simple as this,

My children do not enjoy reading or like books.

And you know what? They are normal. They are fun, educated, articulate, interesting, and imaginative individuals. I equate them to those children who have sporty parents but who grow up uninterested in sport, or academic parents who rear a child who is carefree and artistic. They are who they are. They know how wonderful a story can be and what it is like to lose themselves in a fictional life. Yet they chose not to read.

And that is their choice. Because despite our best wishes, our children find their own ways in life. It may not be what I’d chose, but it’s their life, their way.

(But having said all that, the truth is, a small part of me will never give up and a book will continue to fall into their Christmas stockings for as long as I live.)

photo credit: sean dreilinger sometimes mom is done with storytime and ready for bed before the kids – _MG_6769.embed via photopin (license)

29 thoughts on “I gave my kids a gift and they hate it.

    1. Haha. Yes… see I told you they are ‘normal’
      (BTW your last post has caused a big stir! Anything to say? My contact me works… As this is in brackets no one else can read it) πŸ™‚

      1. They’re a credit to you, tric. I wonder if it’s because they’re at various stages of emerging from the fug of academic books. Maybe not. That theory doesn’t stand up if we apply the Irish principle.

        (Yeah, there was unprecedented traffic. I’ve always wondered what my internet funeral would be like. I’m just disappointed I ballsed up my original video post that had the Onob Quartet as the soundtrack. She would’ve loved it..sniff…I mean, *I* would’ve loved it.)

        1. I’ve surrendered, given up, am broken. Maybe when they have children?
          (I spent a time today driving thinking of writing your obituary! But I didn’t know if you’d see it from the other side)

        2. And just to twist the knife, it’ll be.. A baby manual. The ungrateful little…

          (Tric, that is truly the loveliest thing anyone has offered to do for me. Apart from showing me where I could get a ‘special’ kebab in Paris in ’04)

  1. Oh Tric….. I bought so many books for my children. I read to them. I begged them to love reading. One will read a Harry Potter book, but that is all. The other, nada. Broke my heart. Still breaks my heart….

    1. I do live in hope. They read a book on holidays each year and seem to enjoy it which makes me think each year they have turned a corner, but…no it’s only once a year.

  2. I used the same process with my daughter and it worked, so I’m sure it’s not you. It must be your kids πŸ˜‰

    (No, seriously, my daughter is so much like me I think she’d have discovered books all by herself if I’d not introduced her. Horses for courses as they say.)

  3. This is probably exactly how my mother feels. For as far back as I can remember, she’s always had a book in her hand. And like your children, I do not care much for reading. I’ll read blog entries, news articles and paper columns, but books? Rarely. I *need* to though, as it is great for expanding a person’s vocabulary and with the writing that I do for work I could use some additional words in my vocabulary bank. Perhaps this post is the inspiration I need to get my butt in gear and pick up one of those dreaded paperback things we call books. Haha!

    1. Well my job here is done if I get you to read? I’m amazed you write so often and so well without being a reader. I wonder does your mum mind?

  4. i think that each person, regardless of age, has their things that they enjoy in life and there is nothing we can do to make someone like what we ‘think’ they should like. it will be interesting to see what happens when they are parents and i have a feeling they’ll read to their kids. it will be fun to see it come full circle. )

    1. I’m coming around to that way of thinking too Beth. We’ll have to wait for a while to see how they get on when children come along, but would you believe that I actually have a lot of their books saved for when that happens. I hope when ever it is I get to try again.

  5. I think just like sport or drawing or driving or talking on the phone, reading is something that lots of people love and lots of people don’t necessarily love and that makes sense. Someone equated reading to breathing recently on the assumption that it’s an integral part of life for everyone, and that just doesn’t make sense to me – very little is universal I think.

    1. Haha. I’ll forgive you. I can’t tell you how jealous I was when I saw your little one engrossed in a book. Sigh…
      Now I’ve written this I’ve begun to realise that I can’t change them, but.. I’m still hopeful. And I look forward to trying all over again with the next generation.

  6. Oh dear…..I confess….I am guilty of saying that…probably too much, sorry!
    All of my children love books and reading, however, not one of the five of them (so far) are interested in playing sports outside what they do in school! None of them. They’ll kick a ball around the garden, cycle etc but no ‘competitive’ sports (is that even the right way to say it?) Two of them dance, the girls love drawing and art. Like your kids, they are who they are.

    1. Yes we try to give them opportunities to experience and enjoy sports and reading, but as the saying goes, ‘you can lead a horse to water, you can’t make it drink.’
      I’ll forgive you for saying it’s a gift, as I do a post on my sporty children! πŸ™‚

  7. I think it’s great that you tried, Tric, and as you said, they are who they are, and they sound wonderful. In between the mix of technology, my kids, now young adults, still love to read. I have all similar memories of reading to them when they were little. But if they didn’t enjoy it, I probably wouldn’t force them and would feel the same as you. Although I wouldn’t stop trying in your subtle ways with a book at Christmas; see what happens. They might surprise you one day when you least expect it. πŸ™‚

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