Here’s some good news: This can often be as easy as teaching children to ride a two-wheeler or to throw a baseball. Case in point: When our son, Jack, was 8, he wasn’t a gung-ho reader. Now, I’m sure my wife, Sue, and I have made a half-million mistakes raising Jack, but during that eighth summer of our stewardship, we did something right: We told him he didn’t have to mow the lawn (hooray!), but he was going to read every day (boo).
We then told Jack we were going to help him find books we promised he would like: the Mom-and-Dad “Reading Can Be a Joy” Guarantee. We picked out “The Lightning Thief,” a book in the “Warriors” series, “A Wrinkle in Time,” “Al Capone Does My Shirts,” a novel from my own “Maximum Ride” series, and a few others. By the end of the summer, Jack had read half a dozen books that he loved, and his reading skills had improved dramatically.