Sneaky: How we get our girls to read books we recommend

September 29, 2011

My husband and I went to the library last weekend (or was it the weekend before that?)  It was a beautiful day – crisp, cool air, a lovely breeze, and I dragged him by the hand to go for a walk.  We went to Starbucks for some green tea, a park to sit on a bench and enjoy the cool air, and then to the library.

We’ve both been a little sad lately, because as the girls have gotten older, their reading has dropped off a bit.  School is more challenging, extra-curriculars are more consuming.  They both often have a book in-hand, but they’re either re-reading things, or reading well below their reading level.  Or, in Mouse’s case, they pick up a book, read a little bit, and then just wander away … for good.  [I do not get that.  I suffer through even the worst book rather than walk away before finishing.]

Lemon has been driving me particularly crazy lately, as she has been re-reading the ENTIRE Harry Potter series.  I don’t know why it bothers me as much as it does (oh, yes I do, because I fear she’s being immature).

But while we were at the library, WD and I went to the book sale.  While WD often is looking for books for the girls as his first priority, I tend to be more selfish, looking for ME ME ME.  But this time,  I was scanning, mostly for the girls (since I prefer to read on my iPad since I got it, and the library – as far as I can tell – can’t help me there).  I found a couple of books that I thought Lemon may enjoy, and we bought them ($.50/pop – why not?)

When we got back to our house, the girls weren’t home.  I was about to take the books and put them on Lemon’s bed for her to find when she got home.

“No, you can’t do it like that.”  WD said, stopping me.


“You have to put them on her shelf when she’s not looking.  Then when she goes staring at her shelf for something to read, she finds it and thinks, ‘hey – what’s this?’ Without commentary from us to rebel against, she reads them.”

I trusted him, because she does rebel against ANY recommendation I give her.  Any and all.  (She’s missing out on a lot of great books this way … for now.)

I left the books in WD’s charge, and kind of forgot about them.

The other day, I went into her room and saw he’d put one of them on her shelf.  I also saw she was (FINALLY!!!) almost through the last Harry Potter book.

This morning I was slow getting to work, and she was languishing in bed (it’s Rosh Hashanah – schools in our town are closed), reading one of the books!   I said nothing, but remarked she should be getting in the shower.

Ten minutes later – still reading.  Completely engrossed.  I had to (again) shove her toward the shower.

After her shower – she’s sitting on the edge of the bed, drops of water still on her, wrapped in a towel — reading the book!! She could NOT put it down.

And so, WD’s plan gets gold stars.  I am excited that I can anonymously recommend books to my kid.

Curious, though, what HER view is of that bookshelf.  I mean, she’s not stupid.  She knows they’re coming from somewhere.  She has our larger family bookshelves completely memorized.  She notices if we move a single book out of the order it was in the day before.

Maybe she just accepts it as her own private Narnia of Books.

We’ll have to figure something out for Mouse, too.  But she’s still too busy reading the script for her play, over and over and over.




  1. When I want my girls to read a certain book and they’re resisting my suggestion, I ask one of their aunts or uncles to email them with some recommendations, including the book I was suggesting. All five are teachers and my girls ADORE them, so if were to recommend “To Kill a Mockingbird,” my girls wouldn’t be interested, but if one of their relatives does, then they’re begging me to take them to the bookstore or library.

  2. I reread the entire Harry Potter series every few years. If you think that’s immature, well, I’m rubber, you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you!

    • “Immature” was a shortcut.

      I’m afraid that she’s stressed out, freaking out about increased responsibilities and commitments, and escaping into her pre-adolescent refuge in an almost-frenetic manner.

      There. Now I’m not calling you names. 😉

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