31 Days of Reading with Your Children // Day 12


Today I want to share with you some great quotes from a book I recently read called Deconstructing Penguins: Parents, Kids, and the Bond of Reading. The book is primarily about how to dissect books with your children and how the authors ran a highly successful parent/child book club. At then end of the books, after talking at length on their process for helping children discover the certain aspects of a novel such as plot, antagonist and protagonist, climax, etc., they give some of their overarching views on reading that I thought were worth sharing as part of my 31 Days series as it pertains to what I believe as far as the type of books that I look for for my children.

What children read is important. The theory, still in vogue, that says that it doesn't matter what your child reads as long as he or she reads something is just plain wrong. If anyone tries to convince you otherwise, don't believe it. This notion springs form the assumption that kids need success - any success - to bolster their self-esteem, and if they have to struggle a little it might might leave them feeling bad about themselves. Nothing could be more wrong-headed or insulting to children. Kids' self-esteem comes from the same source as adults' self-esteem: taking on something that seems hard at first and then doing better at it than you ever thought possible. Kids are hip; they know when they're being dumbed down, and no child develops genuine self-esteem from being praised for something he or she didn't work at.

If you start your children off with books that are well-written, whose plots demand attention, with characters drawn with depth and wit, that is the type of reading they will come to enjoy. On the other hand, kids who are exposed to nothing but pop fiction or joke books or superficial biographies of sports heroes will become used to those and are unlikely to move to anything more challenging.

The irony is that it is far more fun for kids (and adults) to try to solve the mystery of a book. Kids are capable of a remarkable level of sophistication regardless of their reading level. What they lack is context. Provide that and almost any child will respond. Once they learn how to look for clues, even kids who are struggling with the words on the page will surprise you will their insights about character, plat, and even the author's motives.

It must be like a treasure hunt where the discovery of each clue is a source of excitement, a marker that you are on the right path to the solution, and a spur to search for the next clue. Discussing a book with a child is much more a process than a result. 

I also thought I might open the floor for questions, if there were any. I've had a few trickle in through the comments that I've tried to hit, but if I have missed yours, leave me a comment and I'll do a Q&A post if there's enough interest. : )

Day: 1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8 // 9 // 10 // 11

The book links above are Amazon affiliate links ... if you click them and make a purchase, I will earn a few pennies towards books for my munchkins. Just thought I'd mention it. :)


  1. Oh, this is one book I've been meaning to read! I love the idea of a bookclub for kids! Have you read Heidi @ Mt. Hope Chronicles' post about theirs? So inspiring!


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