Stop forcing children to read! | World Book Day 2022

Happy World Book Day 2022! 

I hope all the children have a fantastic day and I hope all the parents who had to pull together creative costumes are now relaxing with a coffee (you are most likely at work or caring for younger children but we can dream right?) 

As it is World Book Day I thought it would be a good time to put out a plea to teachers and school staff and to raise awareness of something that has been bothering me recently, something book related. 

A little back story...

I'm a mum, a book loving mum. I have two children, both boys (and 3 step children). My sons have always loved to read, since they were tiny books have been a big part of their lives because I LOVE books, fiction and non-fiction I'm not fussy. The house is full of books in most rooms you will find books about all different things; cooking, gardening, fictional stories, education books, colouring and activity books there are just a lot of books in this house. I love to read, write and learn, it is a big passion of mine and I've done my best to demonstrate to the boys how much fun reading is and how important it it to read. 

That being said I noticed in late 2021 that my youngest (year 5, age 9) was starting to get frustrated with reading, he wasn't picking up books and reading for fun as much as he used to. After a while of noticing this I asked him why this was.

His response shocked me and quite honestly made me really mad. 

My youngest told me that at school an assistant who he reads too had been 'telling him off' for reading books that were not listed on 'the system' or of the right 'ZPD' now whether this person at his school was telling him off or whether this was just how it felt to my son (who is quite sensitive) isn't the point, the point is it made him feel like he was doing something wrong by reading the books he CHOSE to read. Books he picked himself and that appealed to him. 

Telling children NOT to read a certain type of book, in my opinion is so wrong! 

Let children read whatever they want to read (obviously here I don't mean let them read books with 18 plus content, I mean and books of age suitable content) Don't tell them they HAVE to read a particular book just because it helps you to analyse them. Don't tell them the books they have chosen are 'wrong' or 'not good enough' 

It is so important for children to read what they want to, whether that be a fictional book, non-fiction book or magazine. Let them choose books that are too difficult for them, let them challenge themselves, let them ask for help or make the decision that book was too much and let them move onto another book. Don't force them to finish reading books they don't enjoy.

You wouldn't want to be forced to read a book you didn't enjoy! 

I feel that it is so important for children to make their own choices when it comes to books, let them find what they like, to try different books and find what they do and don't like. Children are unique individuals with different tastes just like adults. My boys read totally different types of books. 

Now I have finished ranting I will say that I totally understand teachers and school staff have a job to do (I worked in schools before opening my shop) and so I can understand that you may need children to read particular books to enable you to assess their progress. This is OK, you can do that but you can do it in a positive way rather than a negative way. Try saying 'have you tried this book, I hear its great, why don't you give it a go' or 'there is this new book I found that I think you'll love, here give it a go' or 'can I set you a challenge to read a book that I randomly select for you' 

There are so many ways you can phrase asking them to read books that you need them to read in a positive way rather than a negative one. Just please STOP telling them not to read particular books that they choose, this is really damaging.

This is a plea from a mum of a child who's love of books was damaged by school staff trying to force him into an assessment box when he was doing perfectly well, his reading ability is fantastic and he loved books before this confidence knock.

I've since told my son not to take what he was told to heart, I tried to explain why the person might have said what they did and explain they didn't mean he shouldn't read what he wanted too, just they they would like to see him read some other things too. I explained that he doesn't have to do this if it is making him feel uncomfortable and that I would reach out to the school to let them know I'd said this. 

He is getting back into reading thankfully, it cost me money though, I let him go wild and choose some new books just to cheer him up. Let him have the freedom back to choose whatever he wanted to read. The way it should be, in my opinion. 

Please parents, teachers and anyone else who care for children DO NOT force children to read particular books, give them freedom, give them choice, support them and help them with those choices but don't take away their uniqueness. 


a book loving mum, owner of Betty's Books in Seaton. 

*I welcome anyone to comment their opinions on this post and to share this post to get people talking about this issue* 

P.S World book day is a great opportunity to get kids into reading and to give them the freedom to choose. Let them take their book token to a bookshop and let them select which book to use it on. There are a great selection of world book day books available that will be completely free with a book token that should be handed out at school. 

You can see what books will be available here but be sure to go support your local bookshop by going there to get one, maybe even purchase a few others too.