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. Bimbo the Birthday Clown

    Is TV really an issue anymore? My kids rarely watch TV. They spend way too much time on the computer though. I actually found myself saying the other night, "come on you guys, turn thiose things off. Let's watch a show together."

    September 29, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ann


    September 29, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Levar Burton

    Butterfly in the sky
    I can go twice as high
    Take a look
    It's in a book
    A Reading Rainbow

    I can go anywhere
    Friends to know
    And ways to grow
    A Reading Rainbow

    I can be anything
    Take a look
    It's in a book
    A Reading Rainbow
    A Reading Rainbow

    September 29, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  4. banasy©

    Start the kids young. Take them to programs at the library, and get books instead of videos. My library has a program for children as young as six months; we went yesterday for my Granddaughter's first Mother Goose On The Loose.
    I'm not sure how much she understood, but it's a starting point! Plus, it was a hoot!

    September 29, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bimbo the Birthday Clown

      I don't know why so many parents wait for school. I was reading to my kids when they were toddlers. They could read on their own by playscool. Kids that young CAN learn. The parents are the people who need to take responsibility. They can't just leave it to the teachers.

      September 29, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Brownstain

    If republicans have their way, children will have to go to work at age 5 to feed themselves.

    September 29, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jeff Frank ( R - Ohio ) "Right Extremist"

    If the leftist bleeding heat liberals have thier way, the five year olds will be brainwashed into believing crap like "global warming", then when they grow up, they learn to smoke pot but don't know anything about real work. Maybe they will get slush funds to start up some phoney company, to give kickbacks to the ruling class.

    September 29, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jazzzzzzz

    there' very little on TV that would be of any benefit to kids, even dangerious to our future society.
    Reading is fundamental. 🙂

    September 29, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  8. fernace

    As much as I love The Reading Rainbow let's not forget that it is a TV show, albeit 1 that promotes books & reading ! My nice would read her books to us at age 3! She was writing by 4 & did all of it on her own initiative, inspired by her parents & (proud)aunt reading to her since infancy! I agree with the post that said moderation is key! There is great childrens programming these days, besides the PBS standards! My nephew was speaking English, Spanish & Swedish at 20-24mos from watching Dora the Explorer, Go Diego, Go & learning Swedish from his mom & would often say words in each language! They're 10 & 6 now & are also computer savvy & active in sports! They are both still avid readers & read on their own now & often want to describe their latest book adventures to me when I visit! In this tech age I'd call that well rounded!! PS. I don't have my own kids, so live vicariously through my sisters! Actually, as a retired Childcare Provider, the worlds kids are mine!! 🙂

    September 29, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Namer

    I wish people who denounce scientific claims would just not use anything science has developed.

    September 29, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  10. gung hoe

    Ya I Wish my parents wouldve taght me two weed i mit nut hov su moch trubl rigtig yo dink

    September 29, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  11. banasy©

    Now, how the hell did reading get into a political party catfight? Yeesh!

    My younger daughter (17) watches TV, and has since she was little; she is now pursuing a career in criminal justice, thanks to the shows we watch together.
    In addition to that, she is a prolific story writer and also writes poetry.
    I think balance is the key; I don't subscribe to the absolutely no TV rule, when there is a plethora of good programming choices available.
    It's the people who let the TV do the parenting that are the problem, not TV itself!
    However, Jazzy's right; reading IS fundamental, and I've instilled that into my children.

    September 29, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  12. KIlovolt

    You guys are just making stuff up. No school tried to "make" someone's kid come out for football. There isn't even any such thing as "school football" for nine-year-olds. And no school told you Stephen King was too advanced for nine-year-olds. They might have told you there is a risk of traumatizing him by reading freakish adult literature, but they didn't say it was too hard for him. Don't lay blame on sports. Almost every president in the last 100 years has been an athlete.

    September 29, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  13. justathought

    Bansay– –Hi! How do any of these boards go crazy? If it doesn't go political it goes believe vs atheism, it's crazy. However, I think it all starts when someone comes on a dumb remark that is not evenrelated to the topic.

    September 29, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  14. banasy©

    Hi, justathought!
    I knew it would be a matter of time...
    CNN could do an article on dryer lint, and there would be a political debate on it!


    Oh, yes, my friend, there is such a thing, and just because you've never personally encountered it, doesn't mean it doesn't happen.
    Every school district is different.

    September 29, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  15. justathought

    (KATHLEEN59) Steven King is too advanced for any person.

    September 29, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
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