Reading Slump Confessions and Ideas for Kids

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Two black cube bookshelves next to my desk overflowing with children’s books for me to review. My Kindle contains at least ten forthcoming middle-grade novels I need to read this month.

I started reading a few pages yesterday but I felt like crying. So I stopped.

I’m in a BIG reading slump.

Me–a book reviewer, English major, and happiest-when-reading introvert who usually reads 10-20 books a week.

Yet I’m sitting at my dining room table covered with puzzle pieces listening to podcasts and not reading.

Well, that isn’t exactly true.

I’ve been reading some books; books that maybe don’t “count” to many people — fluffy romances.

They’re light-hearted with a happily ever after…and just what I need.

Just not the literary fiction that you might expect from me to read in my spare time.

But, I read all genres.

(Except westerns. I don’t get that genre.)

Today, I reflected on my bone-weary, sick-of-everything, you-can’t-make-me-read-all-these-books, hypersensitive nervous system situation. I thought I’d be “over it” after Christmas but I’m not.

I’m not worried. I’m okay with being here and giving myself the grace and compassion to stay until it passes.

But it did make me wonder– WHAT ABOUT OUR KIDS? Are they in the same place as me?

What if our kids are also sick of reading and tired of all the assigned reading and so tired of COVID and stressing out over life and just over all of the things?

What if our kids are in a reading slump, too?

Will we give them grace and compassion to be where they’re at?

Or will we push these weary kids to read “fancy” things?

If I’m reading not-super-highbrow or memorable literature, then I need to check myself to make sure I’m not pushing kids to read all the fancy things either.

Yes, I’m a good reader already. Yes, kids are developing as readers.

Even still, I believe that children deserve the same respect to lean into their ups and downs with reading, also.

Maybe these young readers just want to read something fluffy, too?

WHAT IF WE LET KIDS READ WHATEVER THEY WANT TO READ?

My youngest daughter has a friend who loves manga but her parents won’t let her read it.

For reasons unknown. Most likely the parents don’t consider manga “real reading”.

That makes me sad. Because it’s not true.

Comics count as reading. So do audiobooks. (Click the links to read my researched-based. educational reasons.)

My 19-year-old daughter who doesn’t normally read much just bought a book with a title that was a little worrisome with no context.

But did you catch that? SHE WENT TO AN ACTUAL BOOKSTORE AND BOUGHT A BOOK. (In London during a bad COVID season.) And she’s READING IT!

YESSSSS.

I’m not saying you can’t have boundaries or you don’t consider age-appropriateness. (With your kids who are not adults like my oldest.)

You should.

That’s not what I’m talking about.

I’m suggesting that if your kids are like me and in a reading slump, instead of forcing (nagging, timing, arguing) impressive chapter books, perhaps a little grace and creativity with reading content will get them reading again and allow for a renewed passion for reading.

Read something that isn’t a fancy chapter book.

Consider audiobooks, manga, ebooks, blogs, magazines, nonfiction (joke books, cookbooks), choose-your-own-adventure books, illustrated books, easy books they’ve read before, picture books, and so forth. 

Think outside the chapter book.

One of my other favorite ways to get my kids out of a slump is doing what my oldest did — a trip with cash to the bookstore!

Taking your kids to the bookstores with money to spend on BOOKS works. At least it did for us. New, shiny books can be so motivating.

Don’t worry.

Reading ANYTHING is better than not reading at all.

Be flexible, hopeful, and gracious with your kids –and with yourself.

As for me, I’ve got stacks of potentially wonderful and potentially not-so-wonderful books to review that I will get to–just not today.

Maybe tomorrow.

Or next week.

KEEP READING

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6 Responses

  1. The past couple of years have been rough! In recent years I’ve been setting reading goals on Goodreads and that’s just for fun, nothing serious, but when I set my goal at the beginning of 2021 I told myself I wasn’t going to read anything that I didn’t enjoy. So I didn’t really read anything I “should” read like heavy non-fiction or big thick books on best-seller lists. Mentally, I just wasn’t there. So I tried to read funny books (like Jerry Seinfeld’s “Is This Anything?”) and short books (a few by Mitch Albom) and I read a lot of middle grade books, some with my kids and some on my own (“96 Miles,” and “Star Fish” were both excellent.) If I got a few pages or chapters into a book and wasn’t interested in it, I tossed it aside–guilt-free! LIfe is too short to read boring books, when there are so many better ones out there!

    I have gotten a TON of graphic novels and comic books at the library for my kids in the past 2 years. I have zero interest in graphic novels now, but as a kid I loved the Sunday comics and comic books like Garfield and Calvin and Hobbes, so I’m guessing I would have loved all the graphic novels out now–so much variety! Any reading is reading! Comics, magazines, Mad Libs, joke books, cookbooks, etc. are what made me into a reader as an adult, not classics and assigned reading.

    Good luck to you on your slump! Hopefully you’ll find just the right book to help snap you out of it, and if you don’t–just give yourself some grace and enjoy another fluffy read. It’s what everyone needs right now, kids and adults alike.

    1. I agree — life is too short! If I’m reviewing a book that I am forcing myself to get through. I give it a chance to about 1/2 or 1/3 and then abandon it.

      YES! Reading is reading! I might make t-shirts that say exactly that.

      And, thanks. Grace in abundance for these crazy times, right? Sending love, Jennifer — thanks for the comment!

  2. ((((HUGS))))

    I totally understand. Been there and done that. What usually works for me is to reread favorites. Sometimes favorite books from when I was a kid/teen or favorites from just a year ago. It’s like revisiting old friends ❤️

  3. I LOVE this idea!! I’ve been turning my nose down at my daughter’s Anime graphic novels, but why?? Maybe it will help her love reading. Thank you for your essay! (…and btw, I’m in a reading slump to. I hear ya loud and clear!)

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    Hi! I’m Melissa Taylor, mom, writer, & former elementary teacher & literacy trainer. I love sharing good books & fun learning resources.

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