My teen doesn’t read – but I’m not too concerned

A post from MT:

My child doesn’t read but I don’t care. I used to but I see beyond my vanities of being a mom with the child who always has it’s nose in a book.

Let me explain more before you get the wrong idea. My child doesn’t like to read for pleasure. She doesn’t read books. Specifically, she hardly ever cracks into a novel just for fun. She doesn’t love to read novels.

And I’m writing this because people look at me funny when I tell them that. Well, you can stop it now. There is nothing wrong with a kid who isn’t always with a book. There is nothing sad about it. It is ok.

When she was born I was the mom who was always reading. I read to my daughter as soon as she could hold her head up. We live in a house full of thousands of books. We read to her before she went to bed, when she got up in the morning, during potty training, in the car, at the grandparent’s house, in between all other activities. But while she liked the pictures she wouldn’t read. She knew the alphabet and numbers but she wouldn’t read.

Once when she was about four we were in the grocery store and I asked her what a label said (I didn’t have my reading glasses). She said “Mommy you know I can’t read.” She had a point. I couldn’t read when I was four. Her father learned to read when he was three, but that was her dad, not her.

Eventually she did learn to read. It was great. But my sweet child, my only child didn’t like to read.

I on the other hand am never without a book. I am lost without a book. When I buy a coat it has to have pockets that will hold a paperback. My purses are all large enough to hold my books and a nook. I never travel without at least two or three books with me.

My daughter loves the idea of books. She loves bookstores. She loves stories.

But don’t get me wrong again. She isn’t stupid or slow. She is brilliant. She is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met, this only child of mine.

At a young age she “got the big picture”. That is that while most children saw their universe as where mommy and daddy lived and maybe a few friends or preschool, my daughter knew there was a great big world and an entire universe out there. She saw the world. She saw how people interacted and how they related. She made friends everywhere she went. She made up her own mind and had her own opinions on everything. She asked hard questions. She TALKED. She talked and talked and talked and talked.

By the way, her third word was BOOK. The first two were “baby” and “kitty.”

This child of mine was also active – very active. That was a good thing. She was always exploring and discovering and wondering. She looked to the ground and up to the sky.

The talking started at 10 months and now at age 14 the talking continues. And so does the music. Music is everything.

Being active is everything to her as well.

She went to the National Championships in her sport this summer – something she did because she wanted to – not because her parents pressured her to be the best. She did it because she loved it. But she doesn’t love reading.

But she does read. She reads a lot. Just not novels in a corner with her nose in a book. She looks up things that she needs to know about. She reads music trade magazines. She does research as well or better than any graduate student.

Yes, there are so many books I’d love to share with her. That makes me sad, but I can’t tell you how everything else this child does makes up for it. Not to mention, yes, I’m a mom so I can brag, she makes straight A’s and has more friends than any child I know.

I also know her friends will eventually pass on books that she’ll read, and they’ll discuss them. It is what kids do… sometimes. We’ll see. Maybe.

She has happy and healthy relationships too. And she is fashionable. Nothing wrong with that. The kid is so well rounded that I describe her as “the kid I always wanted to be.”

And she is curious. You might as well start digging your hole if you stop being curious (my dad told me that.)

So the points of this are (and please any snarky comments will not be posted):

  • Your child is not YOU, even if you’re an avid reader like I am.
  • It is ok if your child is not exactly like you.
  • Kids who don’t read books read a lot of other things. They read articles and stuff on the internet and during school they DO read books.
  • My daughter has read a lot of books. Of course she read the Hunger Games and likes several other series, but it has to be just right. She won’t read just any book unless it is a school assignment. It is OK for your kid to be picky about what they read.

So my only child isn’t alone. She isn’t with a book. And her best friends are real people. Not in a book. Not on the Internet (and she is there a lot).

The funny thing is, or the most interesting thing, is that she is a brilliant writer. She writes like an adult, both fiction and poetry. Communication is her passion, not hiding out in a corner alone with a book.

As we get ready for High School to start in a few days I know she’ll have a lot of reading assigned, and she’ll do great. She’ll kick ass.

My kid doesn’t read, not the way I read, but then again, she isn’t me. And I’m proud of this amazing person, brilliant person who will one day grow up to change the world.

By the time she was ten she was researching colleges. She was looking up everything. She loves history and science and knowledge. So it’s ok if she isn’t reading novels right now. It is ok if she has interests that go beyond whatever series about talking badgers or whatever it is the kids were reading in 6th grade – she was looking up colleges. See what I’m saying?

Be proud of your child too. There is a lot more going on with kids these days than we can ever imagine. So if they aren’t buried in books or doing Algebra in 3rd grade that is OK. Let them be kids. Let them be smart in their own way. As long as they are curious and active and smiling and smart then let them be who they are. They might not like Harry Potter but they might like looking up news stories, or discussing history, or figuring out mysteries of the solar system and sun spots, or painting,  or playing a sport or writing songs or following a different passion – a passion that makes them smart and happy and successful as a well rounded human.

I’m happy to be alone with a book and I’m lost without one. But sometimes it is nice to look up and live in the real world. That is something I’ve relearned from my child. Thanks honey. I love you.

~ MT

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