I remember the exact day my daughter declared “reading is boring.” She was in first grade, I had just come home from work, exhausted and frustrated with the day I had. I walked into the living room and asked her if she’d started her homework yet.
“Reading is boring,” she said as if she were deliberately trying to break my heart. And she did.
“Reading is boring,” shout children in unison.
“Reading is useless,” yell children everywhere.
“Reading is stupid,” they cry, and parents are instantly overcome with anger and despair.
When my first grader announced she will no longer be a reader, I was temporarily at a loss. I know most parents (or is that just me?) are all too familiar with that helpless-outrage feeling, that feeling when your child realizes they can simply say no to what is asked of them. It’s a feeling of disbelief that quickly gives way to indignation and fury. So, when my daughter decided reading is no longer a thing she was going to do, all I could think of was, “But wait, we did everything right. We read to you every night since you were born. Books are so fun. How could this be? You’re my daughter. You should love reading.”
I’ve been teaching high school English for 7 years. I’ve tutored reading comprehension and writing to kids in 5th grade through sophomore year of college. I’m a reader. For my 17th birthday, I asked for Shakespeare’s Complete Works, which I received and read front to back. I’ve always enjoyed the act of reading as much as what I was reading. Reading is the truest form of “alone time.” It’s “me” time.
“Reading is boring,” she said, and my heart sank. I must have missed something. I must have done something wrong. It must have been that one day I was too tired for story time and put her to bed without reading to her. That must have been it.
That wasn’t it. She was just a kid, following what she’s heard other kids say or deduced on her own based on false, first-grader reasoning. Of course, reading can seem “boring” when compared to electronics. Reading takes work and practice. Books require commitment, they ask for loyalty. That is work.
“Reading is boring,” she said, and I suppressed my sadness and disappointment for long enough to utter, “Why do you say that?”