Always.Read.What.YOU.Want. Did you catch that? YOU, and only you.
I believe that you gravitate toward certain books at certain times of your life. I also believe that the more and varied your reading is, ultimately enriches your understanding of the world and your place in it.
So try new genres and try them more than once. I have personally found that what I like to read (or what I don’t like) changes often. I will pick up a book that a few years ago I would not have liked and discover that now, at this point in my life, it offers me something that I need. Have you ever read the same book at different times in your life and see the book completely differently than the first time? No matter your age…explore! There is so much out there….jump in the deep end and see what happens. Use books to explore places, feelings and experiences that you never have had (or never will). Read about things you don’t understand, are curious about…explore new ways of thinking. Read romance novels, Young Adult novels, memoirs, comic books, graphic novels, historical, sci-fi, fantasy, how-to, autobiographies, and comedies. Don’t be a prude. Don’t look down on what someone else is reading or be embarrassed about what you are reading. Just.Keep.Reading.
I have that same rule for my children. I do not restrict or steer them in any particular direction with the books they choose to read. I know, I know…what if they read something that is too mature or disturbing for them? Yes, that could happen. Usually kids are pretty self regulating but if they do, be there to have that discussion or answer their questions. Let them work through it and watch their mind open up and the learning take hold. When you see them reading, ask about it. Get a dialog going. Whether they are reading something way above their reading level or below…if they are enjoying it and getting something out of it, that is all that matters. I know sometimes this is hard. When your child wants to do his book report on a Captain Underpants book but is reading way above that level, you might cringe. You might want to show off his reading skills. Try and remember the important thing is he IS reading and he IS enjoying it. The foundation is what is important. When your child reads Dickens and they come to you upset or concerned about poverty, class, despair, or loss; be there to talk about it and suggest other titles that may expand upon what they are curious or concerned about.
Take your child to a library or bookstore and let them wander, explore, see what jumps out at them. Let them pull books out and look at covers, read the synopsis, compare to those around it. Let them choose without judgement. If it is way above their reading level, read it together. Keep a list of words they don’t yet understand or can’t sound out. Talk about that. Look them up in the dictionary (or google them). This will make them curious and eager to learn and read.
Kids are natural learners. They are also more thoughtful then many give them credit for. Set them loose and watch. Magic will happen and you will have yourself a reader for life.