Parents asked this former teacher what kids should be reading. Her response was perfect.

When parents ask children's author Kate Messner about what kids should be reading, she always says the same thing.

Messner is an award-winning author who has written more than 30 books, including the juvenile fiction series "Ranger in Time." She was also a middle school teacher for 15 years.

In a Twitter thread, Messner shared that parents often approach her to express concern about the kinds of the books their kids read.


"Sometimes, adults worry that summer reading isn't hard enough or challenging enough or academic enough," she wrote.

Her advice? Let them read what they love: "If they love it and want to read?" That is enough."

Messner also offered comfort to parents whose kids only want to read graphic novels.

She assures parents that comic books and graphic novels are still great reading choices.

She told the story of a dad who stopped her in the grocery store one day to say that his son kept reading graphic novels and ask her what he should do about it. Messner replied, "Buy him more graphic novels. And go to the library because they have some great ones."

Messner pointed out that she grew up reading "Archie" comics, which made her a reader. "Comics and graphic novels of today are smart and sophisticated," she wrote, "and they create readers in a big way."

That endorsement of graphic novels is a balm to parents who worry their kids aren't "really reading" when they indulge in comic-style books. But reading can be done in a variety of ways, books come in a variety of formats, and if a kid is enamored with stories being told a specific way, there's nothing wrong with that.

Reading graphic novels is a good "in" to the reading world for some kids, and when they are ready for something different, they'll already have the reading habit established.

Forcing kids to read books they don't like or aren't interested in is a quick way to make kids hate reading.

In our eagerness to create readers, parents and educators can do some unintentional damage. For example, mandatory reading logs, where kids are required to read for a certain number of minutes and keep track of it each day, have been shown in at least one study to diminish a child's interest in reading.

"When reading is portrayed as something one has to be forced to do," the authors of one such study wrote, "students may draw the conclusion that it is not the kind of activity they want to engage in when given free time."

Since 1 in 4 American adults don't read any books, helping kids love reading is important.

According to a Pew report, about 24% of adults in the U.S. haven't read any books — in whole or in part — in the past year. That includes, print, electronic, and audio formats. One might assume that those numbers are a product of the digital generation, but the report found that Americans under 50 years of age are more likely to have read a book than those over 50.

Books don't have to be long or difficult to be valuable. And considering the research that shows how reading increases intelligence, empathy, mental health, and more, developing a habit of devouring books is more important than fretting over specific kinds.

And way to do that, according to Messner, is simple: "Let your kids read what they love. The End."

More
LUSH

Handmade cosmetics company Lush is putting its money where its mouth is and taking a bold step for climate change action.

On September 20 in the U.S. and September 27 in Canada, Lush will shut the doors of its 250 shops, e-commerce sites, manufacturing facilities, and headquarters for a day, in solidarity with the Global Climate Strike taking place around the world. Lush is encouraging its 5000+ employees "to join this critical movement and take a stand until global leaders are forced to face the climate crisis and enact change."

Keep Reading Show less
Planet
Photo by Annie Bolin on Unsplash

Recent tragic mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton have sparked a lot of conversation and action on the state level over the issue of gun control. But none may be as encouraging as the most recent one, in which 145 CEOs signed a letter urging the U.S. Senate to take action at their level.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

The fine folks at Forbes are currently falling all over themselves trying to clean up the mess they created by publishing their 2019 list of 100 Most Innovative Leaders.

The problem: The list included 99 men and one woman. For those not so good with the math, that means according to Forbes, only 1% of the country's most innovative leaders are female.

Have you ever watched a movie that's so abysmally bad that you wonder how it ever even got made? Where you think, "Hundreds and hundreds of people had to have been directly involved in the production of this film. Did any of them ever think to say, 'Hey, maybe we should just scrap this idea altogether?"

That's how it feels to see a list like this. So how did Forbes come up with these results?

Keep Reading Show less
Innovation

There's something delicious and addicting about those trendy recipe videos circulating online. You've seen them before: the quick and beautiful play-by-plays of mouthwatering dishes you wish you were eating at this very moment.

The recipes seem so simple and magical and get you thinking, "Maybe I can make that five-cheese bacon lasagna tonight." And before you know it, you're at the store loading up on Colby-Monterey Jack (or is that just me?).

For some families, though, the ingredients and final product look a little different. As part of Hunger Action Month, the hunger-relief organization Feeding America is using our obsession with cooking videos to highlight the reality many food-insecure families face when they sit down for dinner: hunger, and no food in sight.

By putting a twist on the bite-sized food videos all over the internet, they hope to raise awareness that hunger is an unacceptable reality for too many families.

Keep Reading Show less
Family
True
Gates Foundation: The Story of Food