Why Don’t Children Read More? (part 2)

I have read 13 books so far this year. Many of them have contained at least one mistake, and a few of them have been so riddled with mistakes I couldn’t help wondering whether the publishing company had even heard of the concept of proofreading. I’m not even talking about just typos. Typos are annoying, and they should be picked up before a book goes to print, but even proof-readers are human and I can understand why the odd one slips through here and there. I’m talking about huge, glaring mistakes that spoil my enjoyment of a book because they don’t make sense.

I read a book once where the names of all the characters changed for one chapter in the middle of a book! That was highly confusing, but as an adult I worked out that the writer had changed the character names part way through writing, and forgotten to alter them in one chapter. Imagine what a child would have thought in a similar situation.

I read another book that contained the sentence: “Things are haveing (sic) to have a lot worse get before they better.” Ok, so I worked out what it meant – that’s beside the point. Coming across a sentence like this throws me out of the story and makes it harder to engage with the characters.

When there are errors like these every 2 to 3 pages, I feel like giving up and hurling the book across the floor. I love reading, so if errors in books make me want to give up, I imagine the temptation would be 100 times greater for a child who is already reluctant to read. Is it any wonder then if they don’t bother?

So far I have looked at libraries and the quality of books as reasons why children might not read. Tomorrow I’ll look at the last reason I have thought of. Do you have thoughts on why children don’t read more? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

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2 Responses to Why Don’t Children Read More? (part 2)

  1. It happened my 3 (older) kids were all sitting in a row in the lounge when I read your Library post… One reading a book, the second surfing on her new iPad, and one listening to a podcast whilst playing football on his Xbox…
    I asked them what they thought and the answer was “TV and other media provide much more instant gratification”.
    I made a deliberate choice when they were small, to read to them every night and then leave them with a stack of books available while they settled down – it was up to them what time they turned off their lights. It was strictly no bedroom TV or other technology at that age. It worked – they all read books for pleasure and have used them extensively in their studies.
    It’s not a guaranteed-success strategy (no such thing in child-rearing or education), but if there is a time of day when books are given centre stage with no competition from other media, and the parents are making a serious effort to find the most engaging books for their kids, I think there is a reasonable chance of success.
    As a post-script, we have all embraced new technology too. The 5 of us own 2 kindles, 2 ipads, & 5 computers. Between us we author 4 active blogs… so new technology actively allows us to write, as well as to read.

    • Sally-Jayne says:

      Hi Rosalind – I agree that computer games etc seem more appealing than books to most children, but I think it’s up to us as adults (and by us I mean writers and publishers as well as teachers and parents) to provide them with a wide enough choice of easily accessible, good quality reading material to make them want to pick up a book sometimes. I love the idea of a certain amount of time each day when books have no competition from other media. Most of the schools I work in have a library time each week but it would be great if there were more parents like you who gave books the same level of importance at home.
      How do you find the Kindles? I’ve not tried one, so maybe I’m missing out, but I think I’d really miss the feel of a book in my hand.

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