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October 18, 2020

How I Made My Children Readers: My ONE Magic Secret

Summer reads…

Okay, as everybody knows, my children are readers because LUCK and because they happened to be born with those inclinations, and because they are fortunate that reading comes easily for their brains. LUCK also that neither of them decided to hate reading out of spite, because their mom was just way too into it. (I was anticipating this. Have done my best—and no doubt failed—not to be too much about the whole reading thing, and give them space to develop their own tastes and connection to reading that was not just an extension of mine.) This is probably 75% of the formula.

In addition, books and reading are an essential part of our family culture, they see me and their dad reading all the time, I’ve surrounded them with excellent books since before they were born, and it’s rare that they’ve ever taken a journey that didn’t end at a bookshop (and then ice cream).

But my magic secret to raising readers is none of these. My magic secret is much less wholesome, is sexist and outdated, and is available in digest form at your local grocery store. My magic secret to raising readers is ARCHIE COMICS.

And here’s why.

1 ) I buy them at the grocery store checkout, along with milk and cheese and breakfast cereal, underlining the point that reading materials can be staples, sundries just as essential as toilet paper and dish soap. They’re always appreciated, and special enough to turn up in Christmas stockings, but they’re kind of viewed there the way that socks in the stockings are. Nice to have, but ubiquitous.

2) Ubiquitous, which is to say accessible. They’re cheap. Can be taken for granted. Unremarkable. They’re just always around.

3) Being so accessible, they’re also disposable. They’re the books my children bring to the table at lunchtime because nobody cares if they get splattered with soup. Nobody has to be precious with a book like this.

4) These are also stories that ask little of their readers. They don’t require a lot of attention or brain power. They’re perfect for if you’re really tired. My daughter likes to read one as a palette cleanser after reading something intense or demanding before bed. They’re not edifying. In short, they are basically literary candy. Unlimited literary candy. And unlimited candy is basically every kid’s dream. (Just don’t tell them that they’re building literacy as a lifelong habit!)

5) I bought two comics last week when we were waiting in the drug store for our flu shots. Archie comics pass the time, and because they’re broken up into pieces, you can read them at three minute intervals or for ages and ages. Picking them up and putting them down is easy , and so they’re really easy to integrate into the course of one’s day. SEVERAL TIMES.

And because they’re so ubiquitous, there’s usually a small pile of them within arm’s reach anyway. Nobody has to go out of their way, which is just the way literacy training ought to be.

One thought on “How I Made My Children Readers: My ONE Magic Secret”

  1. Diane says:

    I happen to love your secret sauce. That was the sauce I slurped up as a kid. It worked! I may not be a fast reader; in fact, I’m slow. But I read a lot anyway. Thanks for sharing your secret.

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