When you write something for a magazine or a journal, you figure some people will read it. But whether they read it or not, you don’t really have to worry about it because you have no way to double-check, so you let it go and hope for the best. I mean, you can go knock on someone’s door and ask them if they read what you wrote, but I don’t recommend it. With online writing, for better or worse, it’s easy to see what posts people read and what ones are neglected. I can tell you that a couple of topics I write about are especially popular.
They are not the topics that I dearly love or think are important. No, I get lots of hits from my piece on jury duty at a particular courthouse in the Chicago area. I have to assume that most of them are sadly disappointed, because they have Googled “parking Maywood courthouse” and instead they get just a throwaway comment on the parking there being poorly designed.
The topic I get far and away the most hits on is “reading slogans” or “bookmark slogans”. People all over the world Google those phrases, especially in India and Australia. Again, I have to assume that they aren’t ecstatic with what they find, as I mostly write down the slogans that the kids came up with themselves, and mostly the ones that make me laugh. If they are creating bookmarks with the reading slogan “Read or a corpse will get you!” more power to them, but I’m not sure how motivating that is.
In fact, I’m not at all sure how motivating any reading slogan is, and that’s why I find it so discouraging. Is there any reading slogan that ever made anyone pick up a book and start reading it? Does anyone, adult or child, see the phrase “Readers are leaders” or “Read to succeed,” and smack their hand to their forehead because they didn’t realize that reading would make them successful? I don’t think so.
Here is the secret to getting kids to read: Give them things worth reading, and give them time to read them. Read in front of them. Read the things to them that are too hard for them to read right now but they are very interested in. Encourage them to read out loud to a dog or a teddy bear or a younger sibling. Sign them up for summer reading programs at your local library and let them choose what they want to read. Give them Mo Willems books to read when they’re first learning. Let them pick out a book to buy while you’re at Target, or even better, at a bookstore. If they’re visually oriented, give them graphic novels and comics and picture books to read. Look up information together in a book or online about something that you both find interesting. There are lots of ways to get kids to read. Slogans are fine, but I’m not sure one ever got a kid reading.
All over the country, public libraries are signing kids up for summer reading. Even though you’re probably sick of school and monitoring your kid, go sign them up at your library so all that hard work you both did this past school year doesn’t slip away over the long summer. Pick something up for yourself, too! Happy reading!