Maybe if I Read More as a Child

So, I went to get my hair cut this weekend and sitting next to me in the waiting area was a 10-year-old kid (12 at the oldest). He was eyebrows-deep in a book. A few minutes later we were sitting next to each other again getting our haircuts. The following conversation transpired between him and the girl cutting his hair.

GIRL: I saw you reading a book out there. You like to read, huh?
KID: Yeah.
GIRL: What are you reading?
KID: (some YA fantasy book I can’t recall)
GIRL: What’s it about?
KID: (again, I can’t recall the onslaught of description he unleashed)
GIRL: Wow, how far in the book are you?
KID: I’m only five pages from the end. I started it yesterday.
GIRL: Wow, you’re a quick reader then, huh?
KID: I guess. It’s only 300 pages though.

The girl cutting his hair and I had the same reaction, “Only 300 pages?!” You’re 10 and you read a 300-page book in a day, and you don’t think that’s impressive? I felt horrible about my reading habits as a child. Hell, even as an adult. I probably didn’t read 300 pages in a year at his age, let alone a day.

Maybe if I read more as a child I’d be brighter, better informed, or a better writer, but 300 pages a day? Am I alone in the writing world thinking this is a ridiculous feat for a kid to be unimpressed about?


  1. A lot of people thought that until the Harry Potter books and kids were scarfing down 700 and 800 word books. It's amazing what they'll do if the story grabs them. There therein lies the challenge. Reading broadens our horizons and our vocabularies, so how do we get more kids to read?

  2. Getting kids to read is definitely difficult. With movies, videos, games, internet, etc. it gets harder every day. I think the key is books like Harry Potter where it becomes less like reading and more like participating in a story that is widely read and accepted by kids their own age. If children who don’t read much actually read books like this they can be used as gateway books to introduce them to what amazing stories there are out there. The best way though, I believe anyway, is to get them reading at a very young age so they understand the joy of reading before it becomes taboo. Like everything else, I believe this lies with the parents to encourage their children to read as they grow.

  3. @Nick, you're absolutely right; it rests in the hands of the parents. Children mimic what they see their parents doing, and many parents just don't bother to read any more. I've read to my son since the womb, and, at nine now, he's growing up to be an avid reader like his mom (the writing, not so much). There's got to be someone in their life who reads WITH them, TO them, gets them excited about reading and the aesthetic value it gives them. In a world where children are so overstimulated by television, video games, and internet, someone's got to remind them there are peaceful, more entertaining worlds...