My son Oscar is seven years old and just starting his reading career. Until now, most of the books he has read have been single-sitting stories. He’s an excellent reader though and at school they are getting him started on longer books with fewer pictures. However, since he went back to school at the start of the month, he has been carrying the same school book around with him and doesn’t make any progress on it.
This morning I asked him if he was enjoying the book and he admitted he wasn’t. So I told him to stop reading it and ask his teacher for another one.
When we are young, there are too many people who tell us we should finish every book that we start. I used to think that way as well. But it makes little sense. There are far more books in the world than anyone could read in a lifetime. You couldn’t even hope to read a fraction of the books that you might love in your life. So why waste time on stories that you don’t like?
I should really start keeping a list of all the books that I start and abandon. At a guess, it’s probably as long as the list of books that I finish.
As Oscar grows up, there are going to be books he has to read for school, which he won’t like very much. I remember brute-forcing my way through Tess of the d’Urbervilles at secondary school. If I never read another description of rolling fields, I will be happy. I then studied for an English Literature degree and there were plenty of books there that I didn’t enjoy, but read because I needed to for my course.
The school book Oscar is reading isn’t because he is going to have to write an essay about it. The book he is reading is not high literature, and it’s not because he finds it difficult that he’s not enjoying it. He is reading it for pleasure and for that purpose, there are plenty of other books he could read and enjoy.
So really, what I’m saying is give up on the books you don’t enjoy reading. Every book we read which we don’t enjoy, is one less book that we would enjoy.