Overheard on CNN.com: Turn off the TV and give your kid a book
Author James Patterson says it's up to parents, not schools, to find books to get kids reading.
September 29th, 2011
12:13 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Turn off the TV and give your kid a book

Comment of the day:

“Two words: HARRY POTTER - Unknown22222

A love of reading begins with the parents

Award-winning author James Patterson ("Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life," "Maximum Ride," "Daniel X" and the "Witch & Wizard" young adult series) is encouraging parents to instill a love of reading in their children. He says it’s up to parents, not schools, to find books kids like to get them motivated. Patterson is the 2010 Children's Choice Book Awards author of the year, and in 2008, he created http://www.ReadKiddoRead.com, a site dedicated to helping parents find books that will get their kids reading.

Most CNN.com readers agreed and shared their tips on how to get kids reading.

Melissa0307 said, “Here's a thought: shut off the TV and make your kids read instead. It's that simple.”

frogprof said, “Maybe if less emphasis were put on sports than on academics, reading would be more important to kids than it is. But every kid in America seems to think he's going to be the next Shaq or Kobe or Manning or whatever, and academic scholarships come second to people's minds AFTER athletic ones. I'm all for 'mens sana in corpore sano,' but NOT at the expense of actual LEARNING. Give the kids recess and PE, let them work off some steam, but don’t make sports the end-all and be-all. Make READING and LEARNING the aim of schools.”

Kathleen59 responded, “I agree with you as my son was 5'2" at the age of nine and the school kept insisting I ‘make’ him play football. In the same breath, they told me that at nine years of age that Stephen King was too advanced for him to read and I should not allow him to read above his age and/or grade level. How ridiculous is that? The teachers were telling me I should not allow him to expand his vocabulary and his knowledge based on his age.”

mary8711 said, “Also if we weren't so ready to buy that new video game, kids would read more. When the kids were growing up, they were read to until they learned to read, and then they read to us. And they observed their parents reading on a daily basis. As a result, they both read avidly. Reading is my primary source of relaxation, because it takes me away from daily worries and plops me down somewhere else. And I get to choose where.”

SandyVC said, “I have been a teacher and raised a reading child. It is ‘bang on’ that it is parents who motivate their children to read. If you never crack a book or brag that you have not read anything since graduating, you are dreaming if you think a teacher can make them read.”

NocommentCNN said, “Love this. My wife and I have a simple way to show reading with our six children. Be a reader yourself. Go to the library and get books you will read and in no time the child will want to do the same.”

JRLSolutions said, “No one better to give this advice! Good tips and all true. I was never influenced by teachers anyway. It was my mother who always had a book in hand who inspired me to read. I remember waking up in the middle of the night often to find her reading a book, and I remember thinking that there must be something special in there to keep my dedicated, hard-working mom up that late. I'm nearing 40 now and have read thousands of books. Reading increases vocabulary, knowledge, and in many cases it can turn into a career. Not all of us are Pattersons, but I make a fine living writing which I attribute to a long-time love of reading.”

hoofleau said, “Turn off the TV. Throw away the video games. Make them play outside in the fresh air. Stimulate their minds with interaction at the dinner table. As simple as that. Plus, make more time for yourself to accomplish these goals. Back to basics, everyone.”

Vsaxena responded, “I grew up watching a lot of TV, but I also acquired a great desire to read. That said, I don't like the ‘back to basics’ concept. Perhaps for some families, but as a technology-loving person, and as a big fan of the entertainment industry, I would like to raise my kids (assuming I'm lucky enough to ever have any) to appreciate all things: sports, computer games, books, Internet chatting with people from faraway lands, bike riding, playing fetch with the dog, etc. I think it's all about moderation.”

msptx said, “What a great thing you are doing for kids. When I was growing up, reading was magical and we could pick up a book and escape to special places; as well as pretend to be whatever. Of course I'm almost 70 and times were different then. My family members were and still are avid readers. I have always believed that to get a child wanting to read, find out what they are interested in and the rest will follow. It doesn't matter what it is, superheroes, flying, sports, whatever. As long as they are reading. Ah the places I've been and the people I've met all through books!”

Do you feel your views align with these commenters' thoughts? Post a comment below, or sound off on video.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

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soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. banasy©

    @justathought:
    Nah, he's not to advanced for me, but it just got old.
    I've had to turn to different authors.
    SK is getting a bit too wordy for me, anymore.

    September 29, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Youth of today.

    What the hell is a "book"? Is it a new tablet?

    September 29, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Suze2

    Anything you can do to help kids learn to read and learn to like it is the way to go. Read to your kids when they are little. Get them a library card when they are older. Let them swap books with their friends. Reward them when they finish a book. And encourage them to read above their level. Get them a kindle or a tablet so they can read on that. I can still remember how empowered I felt when I first learned to read. After that there was no stopping me. It opened up new worlds to me. And I still love to read.

    September 29, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Laura Hathaway

    My 5th grade daughter got me started on the Maximum Ride series. Her school librarian recommended the series during the book fair. We have since shared it with one of her friends and her mom. Can't wait to read "Angel". Thanks for great, appropriate books with strong, multi-dimensional, female characters!

    September 29, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Crystal

    I don't have a TV in my house and I refuse to have one. I love to read, and my house is literally filled with books. My daughter is 9, and in trying to get her to read, I would tell her a story about a book I've read that is appropriate for her age, and then tell her the story until it gets to a good part, then I tell her, if you want to know what happens next, you need to read it your self....and she usually does. Everything starts at home, we as parents are our childrens first teachers, and whatever we deem important, the kids will make it important for them. My parents set the standard for me, and I'm passing it on to my kids!

    September 29, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Kathy Pirman

    Some of my fondest memories of my childhood revolve around books and Mom used to load us in the car every two weeks and head to the library to exchange our books for new ones! Technology is wonderful, but there is just nothing like holding a good book in your hands and "jumping" into another world for a short time. I still love bookstores and the library!

    September 29, 2011 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jack Jones

    THE MORE YOU READ THE MORE YOU KNOW THE MORE YOU KNOW THE FURTHER YOU GO.

    September 29, 2011 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
  8. meemaw

    12 yr old g daughter loves to read. When she was 3 she would get her book and cup of milk and follow me to the front porch, (where I would have a cup of coffee), and do her best to read the pictures. This was good. But,,,now when she is over on a weekend, I have trouble getting her OUT of a book. She will eat while reading, not do homework, will not get out of car if we go somewhere, (until she's made to), will stay up til 3 4 5 am reading, (then its hard to get her up). She is getting no exercise at all . I am truly thankful she loves to read, but a break once in a while would be nice. On a good note, she's beginning to show interest in writing poems, and short stories.. It does not always have to be parent to set examples, sometimes others, (grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors, etc.) can do this very simple by doing themselves..

    September 29, 2011 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Karen LeBlanc

    Books are a quick vacation for me. I can go anywhere, anytime and do anything. My children were read to when they were young, then as they learned to read, I would search for books that related to their favorite things, adventures, etc. Now both adults enjoy the escape a book can provide. Summers at the cottage include sitting outdoors getting fresh air and diving into books. Sometimes a challenge is set down, who can read the most books on our holiday, and lucky for us, there are so many books on the "summer shelf of reading" , that it becomes a race, but you must be able to tell us the plot, who the characters are and your favorite scene or conversation from the book. No prizes, just a good feeling of escaping into so many different worlds and places.

    September 29, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Elaine Stanley

    One of my earliest and fondest memories is my mother reading to us. I loved it and later as a teenager, I read everything I could find to read. I am currently reading one of James Patterson's novels.

    September 29, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. COOKIE CARROLL

    MR. PATTERSON...YOU HAVE BROUGHT SO MUCH TALENT TO THIS WORLD OF BOOKS....THANK YOU FOR BRINGING READING TO TODAY'S KIDS....BECAUSE THERE IS NOTHING LIKE ...THE JOY OF READING.......I KNOW...I'VE READ 56 BOOKS SO FAR THIS YEAR......AND ALL OF YOUR'S SIR!!!!!!!!!!!... COOKIE CARROLL....A HUGE FAN..

    September 29, 2011 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
  12. banasy©

    At my library, we have a summer reading program which has prizes for every age group.
    We also have contests for the employees, too.
    Three summers ago, I was told not to submit slips for all the books I read, because I kept winning every week due to how many slips I had submitted.
    That's okay, because my real prize was the books themselves.

    September 29, 2011 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Briauna

    Well once you read that is a good thing . When you watch tv you could just giggle and have fun and watch what you are interested in.

    September 29, 2011 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Emily

    I am the mother of 2 young readers and I have to say that it probably has a lot to do with the fact that I always have my nose buried in a book! I have read to them since they were born EVERY day – no exceptions, no excuse. Now that they are 5 & 7 they do a lot of reading on their own – I am always taking them to the library for new books and they LOVE to read on our Kindle, but I still read to them every night!!! My 7 yr old is currently in the midst of the 39 Clues series – he can't get enough of them with all of the action, history, and antics!!!! Once they find something they like to read, I encourage it full out and often read the same book right along with them so we can talk about it.

    September 29, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jeff Frank ( R - Ohio )

    Sorry for getting off topic. I will defend myself and others if needed, when idiots start thier mud slinging campaign. Just like Jazzzzz said above, reading is fundamental. I can remember almost 50 years ago how my mother used to enroll me in book clubs. When I was real young Mom and Dad got me Dr. Suess. Did I spell that right? I loved those books. "Cat In The Hat"...one of my favorites.

    September 29, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
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