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.
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.