I pretty much love food, and I am not picky. I used to be picky, wish I still was, it might be easier to not gain weight if I could say no to most things. As I got older I became okay with my food touching and finally stopped special ordering no ketchup burgers at McDonalds. I will try almost anything and only really complain about raisins. They are the deceiver of the cookie world and the booger of the fruit world, there is not description for prunes, but yuck. As a kid, I was picky, but never demanded a replacement, I just ate what I liked and was skinny.
What the heck does this have to do with the library? Do you even ask this anymore? You know I will get there, or maybe you ask every week and just what to watch the “magic” unfold.
Last Saturday was our 1000 Books Before Kindergarten awards ceremony. Afterwards a proud mom complemented our program and we started discussing instilling a love of reading in children. Not only is she a mom and a reader, but she is a high school English teacher. We talked about modeling reading and sharing reading with our children. I mentioned that we tend to lose kids in their teens, but hope they come back. I might have complained a little about required reading in school diminishing a person’s love of reading. This is not a dis on schools, it just is what it is. When I was reading my art history book in college, I did not have time for any “fun” reading.
We both recognized this dilemma, but she pointed out something I had not thought of before. As students age and develop their reading skills, they must also work on their “taste” in books. They must find what they like to read. When you think about our easy collection, the selections are easier. Picture books, some non-fiction, primers and chapter books. Picture books are generally read by parents. Non-fiction appeals to the kid that might have developed a fascination with animals or trucks, etc. Then the primers and chapters become their first picks into reading. The themes of these books are mild as far as the term genre is involved. Then the kids head over to the juvenile section. Genre becomes more evident; mystery, humor, adventure. Then on to YA; paranormal romance, dystopian, magic.
Taste in books, taste in food. Similar, but over reading does not cause weight issues. How do we develop our taste in reading? Do we decide that we really loved Captain Underpants and then only want to read graphic novels? Do we love Little House on the Prairie so much that we only read historic fiction? Do we become the kid that won’t try anything new or does not allow the foods to touch on their plate? The mom I talked to discussed “taste-testing” books. Some teachers read just small sections of a variety of books to introduce different genres to their students. How cool is that?
My reading tastes have developed much like my taste for food. I only have a few things I do not enjoy. I will not list the specific authors or genres, because I respect that other people might like those books. Sorry raisins and prunes, if you love them, we cannot be friends. Just kidding, my mom likes both of those things and I still love her, even my husband thinks oatmeal raisin is the best cookie and we are going on 29 years of marriage.
I really think when people say that they don’t like to read, they just haven’t found the right book yet. Or maybe they need to try a different format. Audio books might be the answer for non-readers, someone reads to you and from what I have heard some narrators are key to bringing a book to life. Maybe you are still a picky reader and don’t venture away from your specific list of authors. As a pretty diverse reader, I feel sorry for you, there are so many things to try out there.
So how do you learn to test taste? Maybe try short story collections, these often are based on a specific genre: crime, romance, paranormal, etc. If a short story can’t bring you over to a new genre, a full book more than likely will not. Or how about you join a book club? In the last few years I have read books I would never have picked, some I have recommended to others, some I would never tell anyone about. If you are happy eating the same meals over again, there is nothing wrong with that, but if you are a parent or a teacher, please help the littles find their way. Encourage trying new things, and not stopping just because you think you have found the best thing available. I love Baxter’s Chipotle Shrimp, but the steak they had on New Year’s Eve changed my life.