Reading is such a personal, sensitive thing. Some people absolutely love it, and others hate it.
But often, the reason why a person hates it has to do with a negative relationship to reading.
One parent found themselves face-to-face with the potential beginnings of a reluctant reader on the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor daughtersbooks tried to force their daughter to read a specific kind of book, which had the opposite impact on the daughter’s reading life than the parent wanted.
As a result, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if they were wrong for getting involved in the first place.
They asked the sub:
“AITA for only buying my daughter books that are close to her reading level?”
The OP’s daughter was an excelling reader at the age of 9.
“My daughter Rose (9) is a very advanced reader. She’s in 3rd grade (8-9-year-olds) but reads at a 9th grade (14-15-years-old) level.”
“Despite her advanced reading level, the only books she wants to read are the “I Survived” series and the “A-Z mysteries”. Both of these books are far below her reading level, so I told her it’s fine if she wants to read them in school but at home, she has to read things closer to her level.”
But the OP wanted her to push herself more.
“I’ve taken her to bookstores and we’ve looked through the young adult section, but she refuses to read any of the books. She says they’re all boring and gross.”
“She always asks to get books from the children’s section, but I’ve said no because they’re too easy for her.”
As a result, the OP’s daughter stopped reading altogether.
“Rose has started sneaking books home from school, and when I started taking those away, she stopped reading in general. Now Rose has pulled away from me and her teacher is recommending that I let her read whatever she wants.”
“Rose’s dad (my ex) found out about this and tore into me for not letting Rose read books for kids her age and offered to send her books, but that’s not the problem.”
“I don’t have a problem with Rose reading, but if she’s going to read, she should read something close to her level.”
“Now everyone’s mad at me so I wanted to know if I was the a**hole.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some said, just because the girl could read the books, didn’t mean she should.
“Just because her 9-YEAR-OLD has the reading level of a high school student doesn’t mean she has the maturity of one or the interests of one. Horrifying that this needs to be explained.”
“Just because she can read the book doesn’t mean it would be enjoyable for her, or even that she should be reading it – a lot of YA books are definitely not appropriate for a 9-year-old.”
“OP trying to control what she reads is a good way to make sure her daughter resents reading, and it sounds like it’s already started.”
“She’s reading in her personal time and that’s great – let her read what she wants and is age-appropriate. That’s how you encourage a love of reading – by letting kids read what they enjoy.” – girlno3belcher
“When I was 10 or 11, I was capable of reading YA, so my dad took me to the YA section to get a book. I picked one out with an interesting jacket blurb.”
“When I got home and started reading it, though, it was gory and full of sex, abuse, and other stuff I didn’t want to hear about as a 5th grader. I put it away and never touched it again.”
“OP, PLEASE let your daughter read what she likes; just because she CAN read it doesn’t mean she WANTS TO.” – waluigi-official
One Redditor identified very specifically with the OP’s daughter and offered the OP advice.
“I’m going to add something here. I was also like OP’s daughter—massively advanced reading level. I was testing out of high school reading levels before I’d gotten to middle school.”
“Here’s an important thing about that test: it covers word and grammar complexity and the ability to follow a plot, NOT subject matter.”
“For instance, I was capable of reading Secret Garden for a long time, but it took me a long time to start it because initially, I thought it was really boring. I can name half a dozen other books that were the same way; I technically could have read them but the subject matter was complex enough that I had no desire to read them.”
“Additionally (personal rant) I know what’s on young adult shelves right now, and I agree with your daughter. They are boring and gross.”
“YA books, especially ones aimed at girls, tend to have poor excuses for plots, lots of love triangles and other examples of deeply unhealthy relationships and boundaries, and sloppy writing in general. I’ve found a few I like, but in general, I’ve actually observed that children’s books are better written, have better plots, more engaging characters, and more entertaining settings.”
“And that’s before you get into the fact that many YA books have content that gets well into the range of softcore porn. Do you seriously want your third grader wading through Hunger Games? Or the Selection books?”
“Let her read what she wants. See if you can find an author she likes who does both children’s books and YA/adult books, so she can transition from one to the other. Stop focusing so hard on the reading ‘score’ she’s getting and help her love reading instead.”
“Edit: OP, if you do read this, one thing that really got me into complex books was that my parents got me a set of ‘abridged classics’–good books that had been well-abridged into something that I could understand and wanted to read. After I’d read those, I wanted to read the full novels. That could be something she’d enjoy.”
“Second edit: this apparently has resonated with a LOT of people. I will add a book rec for Patricia Wrede’s Enchanted Forest Chronicles series. Hysterically funny kids books about a princess who is tired of dancing and embroidery and goes to work for a dragon.” – Stormdanc3
Others said building a love of reading was more important than the level of the book.
“I tested at a college reading level at 9 years old, but all I wanted to read was Junie B. Jones. My mother hated it and tried to get me to read like, Judy Blume, as a compromise but I loved Junie B. Jones. Reading children’s books didn’t hinder my reading level, and I devoured them like no ones business.”
“My dad got my an adult book when I was 10, it was some kind of murder mystery about an Egyptian curse in a museum, and I could comprehend it just fine. I was just too afraid to read it alone and at night.”
“OP YTA just let your daughter enjoy things” – SoSayWeAllx
“You don’t encourage reading by shaming reading choices. Additionally, you can encourage a kid to branch out without moving automatically to the material they aren’t interested in and that may not be age-appropriate.”
“I Survived and A-Z Mysteries are lower-level middle-grade fiction, and if she loves them that’s great, but there’s also a lot of middle-grade that’s longer/more challenging if she’s looking to expand her horizons.”
“I hate the gatekeeping and judgment of reading, especially for kids. I had the nicest teen come into the library I was working at and ask me to help him find a book because he usually reads graphic novels and his grandma told him he needed to read a ‘real’ book. It made me so indignantly angry on his behalf. Graphic novels are real books!” – librarygirl21
“My daughter is 10 and loves secret kingdom!! She’s not very interested in other books but her reading level is a lot higher.”
“She’s tried Harry Potter, Princess Diaries, etc., but Secret Kingdom is her favorite. I would much rather her read what she loves and encourage the love for the hobby than force her to read what I want!!”
“And yes, YA books have such a wide variety of topics. Some can be very sexually charged and I definitely don’t want my 10-year-old reading those (side-eyes at the House of Night series) and some have terrible role models for girls who just sit around waiting for the big strong boys to come to rescue them (cough Twilight cough).”
“I’d rather her stuck in the world of fairies and magic until she decides to move on herself! I mean I’m in my 30s and still read Harry Potter, Hunger Games! Who says we have to read what’s ‘appropriate’ to our ages/ability?” – Kimmbley
It feels like second nature to encourage children to do their best and to push themselves when they are already good at a subject.
But for something as sensitive as reading, it’s really best to allow everyone to read what they want to read, so it doesn’t become such a chore.