Confessions of an Addict [#36]: What My Kids are Reading these Days.

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When my daughter was 8 years old, I bought her a copy of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. It was written in a way that kids her age would like: big fonts and illustrations to boot. She grew bored of it after a couple of chapters, I think. Her teacher told us that she’s a couple of levels ahead of her age group on her reading skills. So after that, I didn’t bother forcing her with “good books”. I let her be.

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Nowadays, she’s into manga and anime. Sometimes, I wonder just how violent and graphic these books are. But I’m not about to censure her reading preferences. I learned my lesson after I told her that I won’t allow her to read Looking for Alaska by John Green. She was 12 at the time. She still found a way to read the book, and I’m not about to teach my daughter that she needs to hide things from me.

I don’t know anything about these books because I’ve never been into manga. I think that if she’s learned to marry reading for fun and reading for school in her schedule, we’re off to a good start. I decided to sit back and watch her grow into someone who’s confident with her reading taste.


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At the beginning of the school year, my son brought home books with very little excitement. I started to worry. Soon, he stopped reading altogether. I brought him to the bookstore one day and asked him to pick any book he wanted. I was surprised when he picked a book about volcanoes. After a few more trips, I started to realize the reason why he doesn’t like the books his teacher was giving him: he doesn’t like story books. He’d rather read books about sharks, water, and the weather. He’d rather read about facts than fiction.

During the Christmas break, we went to the Florida Aquarium in Tampa. Man, this boy was spewing out facts like a seasoned marine biologist. Who needs a tour guide? He knows what kind of creatures to look for in certain habitats. He knows what they eat. He knows their rituals. He knows why they do the things they do. I was awestruck.

I’ve been lucky enough with my kids’ reading comprehension levels. Both of them are a level or two higher than their grades. I think that if you give them freedom to read, they’ll learn to trust their instincts.

  • That’s so cute! I think it’s awesome that your daughter loves anime and manga, and you son loves sharks! I LOVE SHARKS TOO. AND ANIME AND MANGA. ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ Also, that comment above, I think it’s hilarious how your daughter is giving you advice/warnings. Gah. I can’t wait til I have children. And I totally agree. You just have to let your kids discover what they like, rather than preventing them from reading what they want to read.

  • Aw, I so love to hear that you trust your kids to pick their own books! It hurts my heart when I hear about parents trying to censure what kids read. (I think there’s certain limitations to that. I mean, I don’t think a kid in elementary school should read erotica, but I also highly doubt they’d ever pick that for themselves. Like you said, if you let them pick, they learn to trust their own instincts.) My parents never said too much about what I read, which I always appreciated. I do remember my mom telling me she wouldn’t buy me Twilight when I was in middle school, since she thought it sounded stupid and not worth my time (HA, I do wish I’d listened then!), but she never banned me from reading it. I just love how your kids have such different taste from you! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Ha. It’s funny. Simon & Schuster sent me a copy of After by Anna Todd and as soon as my daughter saw it, she said, ‘Mom, you’re going to hate that book!’. It turns out, she was right. Well, apparently, she reads a lot of books on WattPad as well. And this one was a popular fanfic that she’s read in the past.

  • Wow Joy, I love your parenting style. I absolutely agree that while kids should read, they shouldn’t be forced into reading things they would not enjoy. Those required school readings really affected my love for reading to the point that I stopped reading altogether during high school. Aside from Harry Potter of course (I can always make room for Harry Potter). Both your kids sound so smart and way beyond their years. I hope yo have kids like yours one day! xx

    • Exactly. Because I remember what it’s like to have those assigned readings. It was never fun. Though, when I was in high school, we were taught literature in a Coles’ notes format. So mostly, summarized reading of Les Miserables and the like.

  • I’ve watched the anime version of both of those main series Attack on Titan and Death Note, so if you’re ever curious what they’re about you can just ask. ๐Ÿ™‚ They’re both popular and good, but a bit more mature.

    Sounds like your boy is going to be a scientist one day! I’m glad he found something that he enjoyed reading.

    Fun post!

    • Oh that’s interesting! I need to find those tv series. Probably available online somewhere. Thanks for the heads up!

  • WAY to be. And your son sounds exactly like my husband, LOL. And one of my sisters too, come to think of it. I don’t have kids yet, but I hope that if I do someday, I’ll be as open-minded about their reading choices as you are ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • I really think that one of things parents can do to foster love for reading is if they let them choose what they want to read. It becomes homework when you make them read something they don’t really want to read.

  • This post is so adorable, Joy! ๐Ÿ™‚ I am glad you want to foster a love for reading in your kids and hey, so long as they’re reading, what they’re reading shouldn’t matter right? ๐Ÿ˜€ My parents were never really told me what to read or what not to read and I liked having the freedom to read whatever I want (although… I still hide certain books from them :P). I am happy you give your kids the freedom to read whatever they want! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I’m the same way. I decided reading is fun, so I did it myself – even with the very limited resources in my country back in the day. I think it’s almost ingrained in us.

  • I have no kids, but I hope I would let them read what they want

    • That’s the only way they’ll grow to love reading. If they think it fun and not an extra homework at home. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • It’s fantastic that you’re fostering a love of reading in your kids and allowing them to choose what they want to read. Right now, my daughter only wants to read the Warriors books by Erin Hunter. Good thing there are tons of books in the series because she’s already read many of them twice. I want her to branch out into some other books, but sometimes you just have to let them be and not push them!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    • Oh gosh. My daughter was such a huge fan of those books! She wrote her lone review of that book many moons ago!

  • I am behind on the kid’s reading. I know my 6 year old just finished Junie Jones

  • I’m fortunate I share the same passion for reading as my son, although admittedly, his taste is more diverse and “smarter” than mine. The good news is, your daughter is smart so I don’t think you have a lot to worry about when it comes to content. I’m sure she has the sense to filter things out and sort which ones are good and bad. Good job, Momma! Hi5!

    • Thanks, Braine. I’m waiting for her to get into reading YA a bit more. Hopefully, as she grows more comfortable with her reading preferences, she’ll finally appreciate the massive YA library I have in our house. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • You are such a fabulous mom for letting your kids read what they want! I’ve known mom’s who wouldn’t allow their kids and teens to read the books they wanted (for reasons I couldn’t even begin to understand) my dad’s ex wife used to want me to pre-screen her teen girl’s books for”inappropriate” content and behavior which I thought was just ridiculous. But it did help get me into reading the occasional YA books. What I found even funnier is that all the things she didn’t want her teen reading about was rampant at her high school, so what by then is the point I say? Teens always know more about sex and drugs then adults would like to admit.

    That is so marvelous how vastly different your kids reading tastes are!!

    • Which is exactly why I was opposed to her reading John Green’s book. I thought she was too young for the issues being tackled. But she read it anyway with or without my permission, so I’m not doing that again. Lol.

  • Congrats Joy! Is awesome that your kids like to read. I have a 12 years old and she wasnยดt interested in reading, I think I bought her the Wimpy Kid series and Iยดm not sure if she read it at all, but when she saw The Hunger Games movie and find out that it was based from a book she ask me to buy it and end up reading the trilogy, that year her reading was slow I donยดt remember how many books she read in 2012 but last year she read 82 YA books (she isnยดt interested in middle school books – she has like 20 MG books). And my 6 year old girl is currently reading Judy Moody.

    • Fantastic! My daughter is not quite up to reading YAs yet, but she does dabble once in a while. I can’t wait until she starts perusing my shelves for YA!

  • I couldn’t agree with you more! I don’t have kids, but if I did I wouldn’t want them to feel like they needed to hide their reading preferences from me, I’d rather they be upfront and we can talk through any issues surrounding a certain book together. Love that your son was a fount of information at the aquarium! Good for him:)

    • I feel like at her age, getting into a habit of hiding things from me would not be good. If she’ll hide what she’s reading, what else would she hide from me as she gets older?

  • Looking for Alaska is such a great book and I’m so glad you let her read it. John Green’s writing is brilliant and thought provoking. I love comics myself, even graphic novels but I’ve never delved into manga but you know what’s awesome, is that she’s reading and you encourage it. I always say…no matter what you read (whether you’re young adult or full grown adult) just read. It’s good for the brain! *wink* Fabulous post! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Exactly! Brain sustenance! And thank you, Cristina. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I was never really a reader when I was young and I’m kind of disappointed how my parents never insisted that I read. It’s really great that you take your kids to the bookstore and just let them pick whatever they want.

    Death Note and Attack on Titan are both very violet but quite thought provoking manga. Death Note’s one of my favorites and I’m really enjoying Attack on Titan. Your daughter might want to read Bakuman since it’s from the same author as Death Note (and it’s not a violent manga. in fact, it’s more of a Japanese contemporary and inspirational story).

    • Yeah. I guess I’m lucky that way. My kids just took on to reading like ducks to water. Though I wish I’d gotten them used to visiting the library instead of a bookstore.

      Thanks for heads up on those manga that she’s currently into!

  • I adore this post Joy. <3 I'm so glad your kids are getting to read the books they want to read ๐Ÿ˜€ And that they are awesome at it, hih. <3 Your son sounds adorable. Thank you for sharing about them sweetie ๐Ÿ˜€ Their books looks pretty awesome ;p

    • I’m really happy I don’t have to force them to read. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • My younger sister is all about manga too. Back home it’s hard to find them, so when she came to visit me last year, she brought the entire B&N section of manga! Haha! It’s so interesting how kids’ reading styles vary so much!

    • Gosh. My daughter hauls at least a couple a week. But I’m glad she doesn’t have the same attitude as me when it comes to hoarding books. She makes sure they’re read first before she buys more.

  • I love this, Joy. My son is only 3, though he does still tell me which books he wants to read with me. LOL But I love giving them the freedom to read anything they want. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • That’s a great age. When he was 3, all he ever want to do was eat the book. Lol.

  • I love that they have your children have their own interests when it comes to readingโ€ฆthat is what is most important I’d sayโ€ฆwhatever gets them to read and enjoy it! I have a feeling my little boy, like yours, will love non-fiction when he’s older. He’s already interested in books about the ocean, bears, construction vehicles, etc. As much as it pains me to read it for the one millionth time, I have to just be thankful he likes books. I have never read manga, but when I taught middle school, there was a group of girls who absolutely loved it! It sounds pretty cool to me! Great post!

    • It’s weird that the only book he wanted me to read to him when he was younger than his age (he’s 8), was The Giving Tree. I read that to him everyday until I can practically recite it verbatim. Maybe it goes by phases, too.

  • Great post. I think it’s awesome that you just allow your kids to develop their own tastes, even if they are different from yours. My nephew is kind of like your son in that he doesn’t like story books very much. I took him and my niece to the bookstore a few months ago to let them pick out whatever they wanted. He is nine and he immediately asked for “nonfiction books that weren’t kiddie books.” Ha. I took him to the adult nonfiction books and he picked out a book about animals, all kinds of animals. And yes, he was able to read it. He was spouting facts about snakes all the way home just like your son. It’s not my taste, but whatever gets him reading is great. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Exactly! And I think non-fiction books are great because even though he’s not using his abstract mind, soaking up cold hard facts is a sure way to learn. Right now, he either wants to be a Palaeontologist or a Marine Biologist. Lol.

  • I have three girls and each one likes something “different” than the other. Occasionally they will find something they all like but more often than not their tastes vary tremendously. And with one, something I think she will love (usually because I did) she ends up not liking very much and the books I think that she might not like at all, she loves. Funyn how that works sometimes.

    • The only thing that I failed to do with my kids is getting them used to visiting the library. I really should work on that rather than going to the bookstore with me.

  • You’re awecome for not censoring! And anime and manga are okay, I used to read a lot of them when I was 15, but I grew out of it. Now I want nothing to do with anime, lol. And it’s awesome your son is such an advanced reader. Your kids are so smart! I hope your kids’ love for reading continues on!

    • Thanks, Blessie. I hope so, too. My house is a library of sorts, so I’m crossing my fingers that as they grow older, they’ll love some of the books I have on my shelves.

  • Christy

    My son was always an advanced reader (I read to him A LOT since before he could even understand), but it hasn’t always been easy to find him books he’ll enjoy. I’d read books first and then have him read them when I knew he’d like them. He likes zombies and action, but he loves WWII books, fiction and non-fiction.

    It’s great you’re not censoring your daughter. I know I read much more inappropriate books when I was her age. So she’s doing good. lol.

    • Lmao! So true. I was reading Harold Robbins when I was 12. And his books are definitely not appropriate!

  • It’s great that they like both to read and that you’re letting them read what they want to! I would be super proud of your son too! Some different interesting choice in the books, that’s interesting. I don’t have kids so I can’t say…

    • I’m really hoping both my kids would be as addicted to reading as I am. Lord knows, there’s enough books lying around in the house. Lol.