Monday, January 5, 2015

Making Greg Heffly Disappear

This is what it's come to--I may ban books. Or at least hide them for a while.

We are a family of readers. On most days, my chief tidiness complaint is that my house looks like it's suffered a library explosion. Books and magazines are littered everywhere. Everywhere a child was last reading one, at least.

This is a wonderful problem to have. The problem is that I keep shelving the same books over and over and over.

I don't want to ban books because their themes are too advanced for my children. I want to ban them because they are too simplistic. The entire shelf containing the Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Big Nate series is about to disappear. I might sweep away the rest of the graphic novels while I'm at it.

Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against graphic novels when they are one type of book in a person's reading repertoire. In particular, if a graphic novel gets a reluctant reader or a child who has difficulty reading to pick up a book, then I think it's a fabulous thing.

My children do not fall into those categories. They are good readers who love to read. Yet rather than choose new and complex material, they repeatedly read the same handful of off-color comics. We have shelves of books they've never read. Instead, they choose the same simple, funny ones they've read a million times. Day after day after day.

It's mind-numbing just thinking about it.

For a while, I justified the habit. Perhaps, after a day of school, they wanted something mindless that didn't require advance comprehension and vocabulary skills.

That justification was all well and good until they stopped reading everything else. I haven't seen a child holding a new book of prose that wasn't a school assignment in months.

It has to stop. They are missing so much. My elder child who prided himself on reading well above his grade level doesn't bother. My younger child with the extensive vocabulary almost exclusively reads books well below her aptitude level. When she reads anything slightly more challenging, she often doesn't finish it.

These are horrible reading habits for people who love to read. And they must be stopped.

I've waited for this phase to end, but it looks like I'm going to have to force its conclusion. If I confiscate their go-to books and replace them with quality books that are more challenging, will they take the bait?

What do you think? Am I overreacting? Should I continue to put the same books back on the shelf day after day until they've lost interest? They aren't going to take Diary of a Wimpy Kid to college, right? What would you do?

No comments: