How Jim Trelease and I Taught my Daughter to Hate Reading

I didn’t force reading on my daughter. I didn’t need her to be an early reader. I wanted her desire and her skills to come organically. I believed, and still believe in learning through play and the developmental building blocks that get brains ready for more complex tasks. But, in many ways, I was forced in my lack of forcing.

I read the Read-Aloud-Handbook, by Jim Trelease. I heard Mr. Trelease speak. As an early childhood professional, his approach was natural and sensible to me. I read to my daughter from birth. I modeled reading as a mother. I read books above my child’s own reading level. I read books above my child’s intellectual level. And, I did it all in a formulaic kind of way.

I wish I had embraced Trelease for attitude, not as dogma. I wish we had laughed and read for fun with no thought of building skills. I wish we had read chapter books beyond her reading level, but not (even occasionally) beyond her intellectual level (those days were to come). I wish we had read more Ramona and less Anne of Green Gables. I wish there had been Junie B. Jones.

I wish that when she went to elementary school, and middle school, and high school, that their would have been time to read for pleasure and not just for an accelerated-curriculum or college prep. I wish she hadn’t spent adolescent summers reading Guns, Germs and Steel and The Odyssey.

I wish I could unwind her sense that reading is a chore, a kind of penance. I wish she knew that reading is a peaceful escape, a source of interest, not always a means to an end. I suppose she will have to make that discovery on her own, in her adulthood. Still, I wish I had done things differently in her childhood.

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