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Sonoma Family Life Magazine

My Child Doesn’t Like Reading. You Got a Problem with That?

By Katy M. Clark

I saw it again. Another parent’s social media post, singing the praises of her non-stop reader:

How lucky am I? My son finished Harry Potter, and he’s only in second grade!

You are lucky, I thought, damping down my jealousy. My son hates reading. He loathes books with a passion unseen since he was three years old and lost a game of Candy Land to me.

I’d always wanted to post about his aversion to reading. But he’s a teenager now, so I can’t get away with it. Plus deep down I’ve felt that my son’s lack of interest in words meant that I was a bad mother.

However, the truth is kinder to me than I am to myself: Reading simply is a pursuit that he is not passionate about.

He can read.

He doesn’t like to read.

There is a difference.

Ever since he was born, I tried to instill in him a love of the written word. In no particular order, here are the word-nurturing, pro-book, literature-lovin’ experiences I’ve exposed him to:

• I read in front of him. I love to read!

• I read to him every day, from birth until third grade.

• I took him to storytime at the library.

• I signed him up for the summer reading program at the library.

• I took him to the bookstore and bought him books.

• I bought him books from school book fairs.

• I made sure his daycare was chock full of book nooks, story times, and language-enrichment activities.

• I signed those school reading logs that came home every night from kindergarten through sixth grade.

• I chatted with him about books.

• I bought him a Kindle and downloaded books for it.

• Did I mention I read in front of him? I love to read!

For years, I’ve felt bad about his lack of fervor for reading, especially during the dreaded “March Is Reading Month.” Until one day I stopped.

It was the day a mom came over to pick up her child from a play date with my youngest (who loves to read, by the way). I don’t remember how the topic of my son’s lack of interest in reading came up, but she shared her thoughts.

“I hate reading, too,” she admitted. “It was never social enough. I always wanted to be doing something else.”

Here she was, a successful vice president at an international company and a mom of three kids, confessing that reading wasn’t for her.

It was a relief. It was the first voice I had heard that defied the cacophony telling me that I must get my child to love reading. That day I allowed myself to believe, to embrace even, that my son could succeed in life even though he doesn’t like books.

Reading is not for my son. However, what is for my son is socializing with friends and family, chatting with anyone he meets, participating in classroom discussions, being a leader, playing sports, and being pretty great.

Maybe I should put that on social media. Such a post couldn’t embarrass him—chances are he won’t even read it. 

Katy M. Clark is a writer who embraces her maternal imperfections at