Parents, don’t beat yourself up if “the kid” doesn’t read!

Scrolling through my Twitter feed led me to this “innocuous” tweet from Goodreads


And it got me thinking:-


i) Why there is so much brouhaha these days around “reading” as if it can resurrect dead?

ii) Why in order to succeed/ take a good morning dump you need to read books?

iii) Why society has a bee in its bonnet when it comes to parents not pushing children enough to read?


Here, I’d like to clarify that I’m not a parent.  And see read when parents pester me (the child-free by choice one) for breeding. So there is no love lost between “they” and “us”.


But it gets on my nerve every time parents get a bad rap when kids don’t read (for pleasure, not for the sake of literacy).

And this is coming from a voracious reader herself. I find it the blame-game shallow. Why?


1) There is no incentive in reading  

I believe social media is a great mirror to what’s transpiring in society and all that jazz.

Most of the topics on knowledge sharing digital platforms (Quora, Medium etc.) revolve around “coding”, “crypto”  and “tech-bro culture”.

parents don't beat yourself up if kid doesn't read


Independent online publishers like Electric Literature gathers dust in comparison to articles like:

‘’How showering at 6.00 AM would make you a millionaire”.


And  “Medium” was supposed to attract “woke” readers!

Harsh truth: There is no incentive in reading for pleasure.

I’ve closest kith and kin working in academia and I’ve seen second-handed the repercussions of jealousy, “cut-throat” ness, and pettiness practiced  in this field.

Just like these are prevalent in other industries.


And academics are supposed to be great readers, right? I mean that the part of their earning bread and dairy-free butter.


Moot Point:

If you’re pretty shitty in nature, then you’ll remain so even if you can quote “Twelfth Night” verbatim.


2) The myth surrounding “reading” is just..a myth


Over the years, “reading” has become one-cure-fixes-it-all.


  • Don’t have any friend? Read a book and bask in your inflated glory.


  • Your colleagues constantly talk about Netflix and you want to rise above those “buggers”? Pick a book.


  • Feeling depressed that shits have hit the fan? Read, read, read.


And how did I know the “hollowness” of them all? ‘Cause I used to feel like that and now coming out of spell.


Parents don't beat yourself up if the kid doesn't read

Reading can be mind-expanding. But so is watching documentaries on Netflix. Or listening to Sir David Attenborough.


If I want to learn more about grave topics like climate change, the war in Middle-East, I would reach out for a resource that is far more visceral in nature.


Fun fact:

A couple in my pool of relatives watched “Schindler’s List” together with their son, when the boy was just 6 years old!

And he turned out sane- now a thriving 17-years old with a keen passion for history  and theater.


Whether it’s irresponsible parenting or not, I don’t know.


Moot point:

To feel empathetic to a set of people or fate of a nation, a movie can be as powerful a medium like a book (if not more).


3) Reading makes one smarter…not necessarily.


I was reading about a mental health survivor’s story who found the way out through computer games.

It was a moving tale. And the writer sounds like nice human being- trying to encourage others to heal.


It could’ve been a great rebuttal for folks who start casting aspersions to parents whose kids prefer video games to books.

Don’t get me wrong.

Parents, don't beat yourself up if the kid doesn't read

Sitting in front of a computer and being horizontally stretched over the years is pretty unhealthy for a child. So is burning nose in a book. I used to do the latter as a kid.

And reading might have helped me a great deal to be a pretty non a**-hole but it effed me up in other ways. It helped zero to solve my introversion.

And after more than two decades, I wish I was pushed into socializing more.


Moot point:

I’ve not produced any statistics like this in my post in support of my anti “read everywhere” stance. ‘Cause statistics can lie.

How? I’m learning it from a book called “How To Lie With Statistics”. Go figure.


Do you think parents should take the blame if a child doesn’t read for pleasure? Let me know in the comments.



17 thoughts on “Parents, don’t beat yourself up if “the kid” doesn’t read!

  1. bookbeachbunny says:

    I don’t think parents should take the blame if a child doesn’t read for pleasure at all and like you said a kid can find a lifelong passion in many different places. But I have friends that are teachers who say reading comprehension skills are pretty poor across the board so I don’t really know what to do.

    • Jheelam says:

      That’s also true. If the eco-system is not conducive enough to foster the love for literature among students, then nothing would work I guess.

  2. Beth says:

    I have 5 kids and 4 of them were avid readers in elementary school. One of my kids just really didn’t like to read that much after he outgrew the Captain Underpants series.
    However, he seemed to enjoy a few nonfiction books about sports over the years. I don’t think there is anything wrong with kids not wanting to read for fun, but it is important that they can read well.

    I was really shy when I was in junior high, and always hid behind a book whenever I had the chance.

    • Jheelam says:

      Couldn’t agree more with “importance of reading well” part. You sound like a fantastic mom by not shoving anything down your kid’s throat. It’s lovely to know another-shy-kid-from-school by the way. 🙂

  3. shanayatales says:

    It’s ridiculous that people would consider forcing kids (or anyone for that matter) for something they should do for supposed “pleasure”. If they have to be made to do something, where is the pleasure in that?

    And this from a voracious reader, who loves to read more than anything else. But that’s my choice. And I feel like people should be at liberty to pick their hobbies at the very least, right? I wonder what kind of dystopian world it would be when our hobbies would be allotted to us!

    • Jheelam says:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. 🙂 Forcing is not at all cool but actually I do think that reading makes any child better in comprehension, logical reasoning, critical thinking skills.

      I rant was against putting all the onus on parents while the education/library/corporate system (vary from country-to-country) is not conducive enough to foster love for books among kids.

      In India, literature as a college-major is looked down upon, voracious readers are labeled as “pseudo-intellectuals” and your resume is filtered based on the marks you obtained (whether by cramming or anything else).

      In this eco-system, it’s so easy to blame parents and shrug off the responsibility- if the kid doesn’t read.

  4. Becky Ginther says:

    As a children’s librarian I understand what you’re saying but probably don’t agree with the overall point. There are certainly smart, successful people who don’t read and didn’t as kids. But overwhelmingly studies have shown that children who read a lot literally affects your brain in a scientific way. It not only makes you better at reading, it improves intelligence overall and also affects emotional intelligence and how you interact with people. Yes, there are terrible people who read a lot, and great people who don’t. But overall I would argue there’s a lot of incentive in reading for pleasure. You may not buy into statistics but I’m more likely to believe them than one person’s experiences… and dealing with hundreds of kids every day, both those who love to read and those who are there because of their parents, I see every single day how reading can make a difference.

    That being said, every person is unique. Like anything, reading as an escape may be someone trying not to confront real life problems. Those cases should be dealt with on an individual basis, but overall I would highly encourage parents to get their kids reading as much as possible. This DOES NOT mean they have to read the classics, or read for hours a day. Let them read what they like! Any reading is good, even if it’s just 15 minutes a day, or an hour a week. Fantasy, YA romances, graphic novels… all of it is good! 🙂

    • Jheelam says:

      This is such a nice comment Becky <3. Coming from Children's librarian it is all the more special. I agree wholeheartedly with your view that reading does shape characters. But putting all the onus on the parents is a bit too much IMHO.

      In my country, public library system is not up-to-the-mark. Children are taught from the childhood, that in order, to shine- one needs to either study medicine or engineering. In that context, most of the middle-class parents are made to bow down to the pressure of inculcating "a zeal for science" in their kids from a tender age. And it pays off most of the times – by bragging a job in IT or cracking a seat in medicine school.

      So when the whole environment is not conducive enough to foster a love for reading/ system is designed to let down those who choose literature as a choice for major in college, I found it this "make your kid to read or else you're a lazy parent" brouhaha a tad unfair.

      This culture might be country-specific. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      • Becky Ginther says:

        The culture can really make a huge difference! It sounds like the focus in your country is different than what it generally is here (in the US), and I can’t say that I think that’s a great thing. I do see parents here who are pushing their kids so hard, even smart, talented kids are broken from the weight of the pressure. I really think depression/anxiety rates in teens and young adults have gone up because of that. We do have a culture of “you should be encouraging your kid to read” but it’s more read whatever you want, just be reading.

      • Jheelam says:

        Yeah, it’s a sorry state prevailing everywhere regarding books. “Read whatever you want” sounds refreshingly democratic and cool!

  5. Bloglove2018 says:

    This is a very hard topic with a wide range of opinions. As parents there are so many different concerns. It is never easy to know which direction to go, but you have to do what is right for you and your family!

  6. courtneynicoleheathcock says:

    This does make me think about this topic where I would haven’t have normally. This is a very interesting point. I hated reading a child but my whole family loved to read. As I’ve gotten older, I have learned to love it. But I would have never blamed my mom for my dislike of reading, she actually made me enjoy it more because she loved it.

    • Jheelam says:

      So glad you’ve found your love for books. Yes, blaming the parents is so convenient, when nobody else is doing anything to incentivize/fostering reading among children.

  7. Abhijit Ray says:

    You have pretty strong view point. That is good. They you right in an organised manner indicates you are not an enemy of reading and writing. I think one should read if they like to read. No one can force the habit on another person. Reading is a habit that increases knowledge and information. It may be used at some point in life, may be it will never be used. The thoughts and ideas that reading a book ignites stays with a person. May be makes him a better person, may be it does not. Simply watching visual medium makes us forget the art of reading, which is still followed to a great extent in our academic curriculum. By watching TV or other medium, we may not get the nuances the author wants to express in his writing. For example, I read “Pather Panchali” and saw the movie. Even a brilliant director like Satyajit Ray cannot make his actors express mental state of Apu when he sees a steam engine go by or when a full moon comes out behind a bamboo forest. Like we do not practice honesty because it is a good policy, we should not read a book because it will give us something in return. Yes book reading gives us something, that thing is intangible and cannot always be measured in cash and kind.

    • Jheelam says:

      Couldn’t agree more Sir. I’m a voracious reader myself and yes, it’s very hard to adapt the surrealism of Bibhutibhusan Bandopadhyay’s books on-screen, even for Ray himself. My point was- without fostering the conducive environment for reading, it’s unfair to blame parents solely. One of the rudest shocks for me in life has been- in reality, the incentive is greater for street-smarts than that of book-smarts.

      • Abhijit Ray says:

        I think these are two different things. If I may say apples and oranges. Reading is a habit without any expectation of financial gain. Reading is purely for self enrichment. Street smartness is to hoodwink someone for accessing object or information. Streets arts need not be a great scholar but does not harm if they also read. Should we compare ideal and practical, and try to bring practical up to ideal or ideal down to practical?

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