Q: My child only wants to read Junie B. Jones and Junie B is a bad influence. How can I encourage my child to read more substantial literature?
A:. I don’t know when it happens, but somewhere along the process of raising children and wanting only the best for them, we forget that sometimes kids just need to have fun. Unlike too much television and video games that have a negative effect on a child’s physical and intellectual development, excessive reading will only have the opposite effect. Kids who read regularly perform well in school, become critical thinkers, have quality writing skills, continually improve grammar and vocabulary, and a host of other benefits. The only way to develop a voracious reader is to allow the child to read what interests them. So if you want the best for your children, (and I know you do) my professional advice is to relax and let the kid read any age appropriate material they want to. Yea, I’m drawing a line in the sand at your 6 year old kid reading E.L. James. I am not recommending that!
Remember children have similar interest as adults, and before we judge their reading choices for being “too easy” or a “poor influence” let’s just quick look at an adults guilty pleasure reading habits:
Compared to Dexter, Junie B. is an angelic cherub.
Considering Tressa's exploits, Junie B. is merely precocious!
As compelling as Anna and Christian's romance may be, no one can mistake this series for “quality” literature. And we won’t even begin to mention how many holds are placed on the movie!
Based on the three examples given, it is clear that adults enjoy reading a diverse collection of books with unorthadox writing styles, and about characters with questionable morality.
Adults don't mind that the writing is not at a collegiate level, the characters do not converse in standard English, or the plot does not promote the highest ideals of morality. So why are we holding our children to a high standard when it comes to selecting reading materials?
Don't be so quick to judge your kids choice of reading materials. Remember, children love anti-heroes too! So Junie B Jones, Stink, Captain Underpants and other such characters are enjoyable for the fact they are NOT role models. The vast majority of children understand that Junie B is a misbehaving protagonist. When a child picks up a Junie B Jones (or other similar story) they are reading purely for the enjoyment of reading. At the end of the day, isn’t that what is best for our children; they learn to love reading?
So the next time you visit the library borrow another paperback/mystery/erotic romance/urban fiction book, understand your son or daughter wants to pick up Junie B for the same reason: READING IS FUN!
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