Reading versus Assigned Reading

For the past two nights, my daughters aged 20 and 15 have been having “reading” parties as a regular part of their holiday routine. Around 11:00 – 11:30 p.m., when my wife and I are getting tired and ready for bed, the girls go into their rooms to read the new books (a holiday gift tradition as well). This winter, my eldest is reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and my youngest is reading book 4 from the Pretty Little Liars series, Twisted.

As a parent in the age of screens, it is refreshing to know that I have instilled a love of reading in my children and a love for books, although soon, electronic readers may replace them.

This winter break, however, my youngest is struggling with a dilemma, whether to read the first 80 pages of an assigned school reading, A Brave New World, complete with quote logs with explanations as to why they were chosen, or to read a book of her pleasure. I am really sad that she has been made to make a choice. Instead of being able to enjoy a guilty little pleasure and enjoy the story-telling, she is being made to analyze and the writing.

In my opinion, a break should be treated as a time to set aside the academic work and immerse oneself in family. For us, it is sharing stories and laughter while baking or decorating cookies, sharing family meals without the pressure to hurry back to work, to play old fashioned board games, such as Scrabble, Risk, Life, and new ones like Sort-It, Catch-Phrase, to plug in the video game system to play Mario Kart or Guitar Hero. To have reading parties into the night, sharing the stories. These represent learning opportunities that our busy, hectic schedules do not allow for during the school year. As with the Race to Nowhere’s philosophy, let’s try to carve out some time just to be together.


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