How to Raise a Reader by Pamela Paul and Maria Russo is a pretty exceptional book and one that I would recommend to just about any parent, though I can’t account for whether or not all parents will read it. But the truth is that one of the best things you could ever do for your child is to set them up for a future in which they are exceptional readers. Having the capabilities to read is something that will greatly benefit every single person alive, especially your children. And, as a reading specialist myself who works every day with children who have been left behind and let down by their struggle to read, I can say unquestionably that their journey through learning to read has changed their lives for the better in an immense way. Believe me when I say that, if you are a parent, this book is worth picking up.
Pamela and Maria spend a lot of time really breaking down the steps of introducing your children to books, moving through various stages of growth that a child will go through and what the best approaches are toward fostering a love for reading with your child are. Not only does this book begin with your child as a newborn, but it develops all the way through until your child starts to become an independent adult. Filled with a plethora of useful tips regarding how to develop a child’s interest in reading and how to pick some of the perfect books, How to Raise a Reader is a book I can definitely picture getting for myself in the event that I ever have a child of my own. There were a number of suggestions here that I personally might not have thought of if I had simply gone about doing this all on my own.
I think one of the most enjoyable parts I found within this book were the long lists of suggested books to get for your children. They were exceptionally well thought out and I was thrilled to see many that I recognized. I recall eagerly flipping through these particular pages, even writing down several that I’d not read before with the intention of later looking themselves up and procuring myself copies to read. More and more, I found myself looking forward to the instance in which I would have the opportunity to put these ideas into practice.
One thing I will say that bothered me about this book was how the authors would alternate between referring to the readers’ children as he or she. On the surface, I suppose to many this wouldn’t come across as problematic in any way, but the truth is that I wish they had simply used gender neutral pronouns. There’s an assumption within this alternation–while I’m sure it was unconscious as these things often tend to be among those who don’t know better–that the only children people may have will be of one of the two genders. I don’t imagine this was the goal of the authors or that they left out communities with individuals who don’t identify with a gender intentionally, however I do think that we need to do a better job than we have of being inclusive for those people. And having a book in which we alternate pronouns to “include” both male and female children does open the book up for some reasonable criticism in this case as far as I’m concerned. “He” and “she” are not the only genders out there and while I’m sure many infants and toddlers will not be fighting to have specific genders at that period in their lives, but as this book does discuss teenagers, who will likely have opinions on their gender at that point, I think it’s a fair complaint to bring up. It is especially important as someone who does identify as genderqueer or non-binary as a parent might read this and it’s important to be inclusive to them, as well.
All in all, I really did love this book and I would definitely suggest it as a good read for any parent wishing to foster a love for reading within their children.
I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.