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. Packard

    Replacing the observation of TV sets with the reading of books would be one of the most important changes possible in the reconstruction of the USA's educational system.
    The only TV set in our new apartment is still in the closet.

    September 29, 2011 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
  2. MizFurball

    My mother taught me to read and write at 2 years of age. She said she did this because I asked. I have never been without 2 or 3 books going at the same time. (If you do this, pick very dissimilar stories, or it can be confusing.)

    September 29, 2011 at 9:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Lois Brown

    This is a wonderful article and so true. Books have taken me to so many awesome places and are my chief form of relaxation and learning. I hope that my children realize the importance of encouraging their children to develop a love of learning. I do hear people bragging that they never read a book. What blatant ignorance!

    September 29, 2011 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
  4. banasy©

    Perhaps I wasn't clear in my posts; my children were taught almost from birth to love books. As a matter of fact, my granddaughter is read 'Goodnight, Moon' every night, and has since she was born. Without fail.
    I just meant that there are many good programs on television, and I chose not to outlaw it in my house.
    There is value in any media, should one choose to look carefully enough.
    There is no replacement for books, however.
    I work in a library; that's how important it is to me and my family.

    @Jeff Frank:
    Ooh, my parents had me enrolled, too! Must be a generational thing...'One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish' was my favorite, though.

    September 29, 2011 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Elaine Rush

    because of financial conditions, my dad only finished the 8th grade, but he loved to read. and he instilled in each of his four kids the love of books of all kinds..Reading can take you anywhere and let you do anything that you could possibly imagine, whether it's a bunch of kids who were born in a lab and can fly, or following a trail with Louis L'Amour to catch bad guys.


    September 29, 2011 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
  6. fernace

    As I said in my earlier post, I don't have kids, but kids aren't the only people who need literacy encouragement! From reading blog posts I'm amazed some people have jobs with their attrocious grammar & spelling! I actually just got a computer & am learning to become efficient on it! I have a TV, but hang at the library (I love that place,@banasy, great invention!) for my book fix, so haven't bothered to hook it up! When I get bored with reading & my computer maybe I'll get around to it! My point is, we could all use more books, magazines & other reading material (the internet is a good source), to not become complacent & to challenge ourselves & yes, to become better blog writers! Btw, is there a better smell in the world than coming across an ancient volume of Chaucer or a Bronte sister! Smells like 100 years of knowledge!!

    September 29, 2011 at 11:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. s kel

    I go to sleep most nights reading a book. On various topics.

    September 30, 2011 at 12:59 am | Report abuse |
  8. Sandra Fisher

    I got a Kindle three weeks ago, & since I got it I have read two James Patterson books, one Sherlock Holmes and I'm nearly finished a Richard Castle book. BK I read one book in about 3-4 weeks now I'm getting through 1 a week. The Kindle is one of the best inventions of this century. Well done Amazon.

    September 30, 2011 at 4:28 am | Report abuse |
  9. ronvan

    While I agree that reading a book is great, we are missing something. A BOOK is just that a book. It is NOT these new fangled electronic gadgets that are called "books". I know, I am old fashioned, but I cannot remember having to stop reading, to recharge batteries!? Also, you cannot blame TV. It is what you watch that matters. There are many channels, you should know the ones, that are extremely instructional, promotes learning, and can provide incentive to learn more. And then how many of you have heard about libraries turning to more computers, and less books!?

    October 1, 2011 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
  10. Bill

    Actually, what we really need to do is make sure they get plenty of tube-time snackin' and watching garbage like Ultimate Fighting. Turn 'em chubby, ignorant and violence – loving in one easy course!

    October 1, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  11. banasy©

    Unfortunately, that's true: we have computers in our library for public use. Fortunately, the people using them, for the most part, still take out books after the are done.
    The bad thing is that we offer movies; I've seen parents bring their kids in, and when the kid says "hey, let's get a book", the parent will say, "no, we don't have time; get a movie instead."
    It's all about the numbers; the more circulation, the more funding.
    They don't really differentiate between the number of books vs. The number of movies checked out; it's just the numbers the Board is interested in.
    I think books are still ahead; but not for long, I fear.

    October 1, 2011 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
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