Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Too hard?

Here is something that bothers me when I'm working in the library:

A little kid, maybe seven or eight, goes into the Juvenile section and starts to look at books. Her mom comes after her and says, "Not these books, they are too hard for you. You're in __ grade and so you must read books out of the ____ section."

What is it about this scenario that bothers me? Well, the little girl was only looking at Juvenile cooking books. She was reading them, and she was old enough to cook the recipes from them, so how were they too hard for her?

I think parents sometimes rely too much on groupings and grades that schools use to organize. I was homeschooled, and growing up I loved the library. I picked out my own books, huge stacks of them, and it didn't matter what grade level they were at. I just picked what interested me.

I think it's possible that this system of reading levels is taking the love of reading from children. To be repeatedly told that something is too hard for you when it really isn't has to have some kind of effect. Staying inside your age group of books means you will never be challenged by anything you read.

I have been reading from the adult and children's sections for a long time. My love of classic literature started when I was a kid, something that would have never developed if I had been limited in my reading choices.

Now, I'm not saying you should give kids just anything to read. It still has to be appropriate, and I think it is the parent's right to approve books their children are reading. However, I think the child should choose what he or she really wants to read.

And please, never tell a child that a book is too hard. You might regret it when he believes you and thinks reading in general is too hard to be bothered with.



Marian said...

I agree about the reading levels problem! Because really, even if a child doesn't understand every single word or plot twist in the story, it doesn't mean they won't gain anything from trying to read a difficult book. As a kid, I certainly didn't understand everything I read in classic lit, but I got the gist of the story; and it was that appreciation of the story which encouraged me to continue reading classics.

And like you said, it's also good to read children's lit, too. The Snowman, for example, has got to be one of the most poignant short stories I've watched/read.

Faith said...

H! I tagged you!


Anonymous said...

Wow! I completely agree. Maturity level is what parents might look at when limiting. Not nessesarily the ability to read the material.
My brother had difficulty with reading. So we let him pick out his own books. Of course he started with little picture books but when my sister casually handed him a book she'd been reading. Mom never dared to say it might be too difficult. She just wanted him to read.
So often we get wrapped up in what others say we forget to have a life of our own. Don't limit, help them with it.
I'm not saying to let them indilgue in whatever books they pick up. I'm not so sure you want to let them poke at 'Nora Roberts' or 'The Twilight Saga.'(My opinion) I'm not sure anyone is ever mature enough, or should be, for somethings.
Great post! Thanks!

Elinor Dashwood said...

Ugh, that *is* annoying!! I was reading "Anne of Green Gables" by the time I was eight, and though I probably didn't understand a lot of it, it was still challenging my mind and helping me to grow in my reading skills.
That's sad how some people discourage their kids like that.

Celine said...

That is SO frustrating! My friend and I were recently talking about that.

Age has nothing to do with development, I think. ( I suppose this is the logic of Unschoolers?)

Michelle said...

I totally agree!!! When I was four I wanted to do "school" like my older cousins, so my mom bought me those "learn your shapes/colors/etc" books and by the time I was five I was reading American Girl books.. (that's what made my parents decide to homeschool me and my two younger brothers)..
If they had denied me the joy of learning to read until I went to Kindergarten and learned my ABC's, I would never have become the person I am today.