Is it better to encourage children to read anything, regardless of literary merit, or should parents and educators select books for children that are well-written but potentially boring or too challenging?

I’m not a native English speaker so my mother who’s an English teacher thought it would be best to give me lots of books to improve my language skills.

So from the age of 7 I would be given a variety of books from comic books like Archie’s to serious literature like encyclopedias to read. And I believe that the variety really helped mebroaden my horizons . And this kind of free reading has inculcated that habit of learning. As kids grow, more often  than not, they learn to distinguish between what is worth their time and what isn’t.

Today at the age of 19 I’ve read almost all the major classics by Dickens, Twain, Bronte Sisters, Austen and I’ve also dipped my toe into the other end of the pool by reading Twilight, 50 shades of grey .  And I think that it has developed an understanding of good and bad writing, classic literature vs commercial literature and serious works vs leisure reading.

Furthermore, how long can you expect to control a child’s reading? Today’s children are online and whether you like it or not, they have a much larger set of choices to pick from than any other generation before them.

It is all about starting out early in life. Kids need to slip into reading naturally. It has to become part of their life. With a toddler it is obviously the parent’s job to choose the right books. After a couple of years they will already find their own preferred books at the library or bookstore. As an adult reader with a superior knowledge of the variety of books available, it is only natural to suggest books to your child which you consider a great fit. There is no question that any reading is good. One can benefit from the silliest book. I learned more from reading all kinds of books than I ever did in school.

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Definitely in the read anything camp. Quantity creates fluidity which is key for comprehension. And the only way to build quantity is to allow reading to be desirable – a treat rather than an exercise that is “good for you!”.

Quality comes later, and really only if they have something to compare a book too. It does help to have peers who have read a range of books to be able to discuss what was interesting or problematic about a book.

And don’t get caught up in genre biases. Graphic novels can be schlocky or incredibly nuanced and challenging. Novels equally so.

Read. Read anything. Read twilight, read comic books, read cartoon strips. Read. Because the enjoyment of reading comes from training. When I read a book, I don’t see the words, I see the story. Because reading is second nature to me, the graphics in books are far superior to any computer game or multi-million movie version. And getting to that point requires so much training, and you’re never going to get there by forcing kids to read stuff they don’t care for.
I would ask you to give him/her freedom to read whatever he/she wants to read as long as the content is not objectionable. When I was a kid my Dad used to buy me loads of comics. Those comics were fun to read and that’s how I developed the habit of reading. Reading requires patience, I have heard many of my friends who never read anything apart from their school books say “I get bored after reading 5 pages, how do you read a whole novel?”.It’s really important to inculcate the habit of reading in kids at really young age. Trust me that habit sticks for life!!
Lots of good answers, but there is a subtlety that’s being missed.  I was a voracious reader, finishing off one or two books a day at age 9.  I turned to Babysitters Club, Trixie Belden mysteries, boxcar children, just to supply the volume.  Eventually I found better literature and moved on, and now that my free time is precious, I am more choosey.  However, those books were in addition to more quality literature.  We would be doing a disservice if schools catered to the popular and chose Twilight as the class book, and I refuse to read my daughter Dora books that are just narrating an episode of the show.  The parents and teachers need to stretch horizons, not hem them into the familiar.

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