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Parents, force your kids to read 20 minutes a night…or else bad things will happen

favicon Have you seen these images online? Here’s one.


It looks like James is going to have a better life than Travis. Which, in reality, is true, or at least according to reading researchers.

But what I’ve always not liked about these posters is that there’s no joy in them. Reading is hard work and must be forced like a chore.

If you’re a parent, the right thing to do is to tell your child to go to her room to force read while you finish watching TV.

Here’s another:


I suppose they could be worse. And there’s nothing wrong with giving parents the facts — that like anything else (practicing piano, playing sports, eating vegetables), a daily habit is the best approach.

But why don’t these images ever have interesting books on them? Or joyful readers? Or parents reading alongside their children?

Why is it a totally normal thing for parents to read to their kids until their kids can read…and then stop entirely afterward, replacing that reading with reading demands and reading logs?

Yes, I know: Parents are busy. But it’s 20 minutes, right? favicon


  1. Beyondthe

    You’re cruel. You let parents force their children to do ridiculous things even if it’s not in a child’s favor. At least your forum entertained me. Someone doesn’t gain willpower by reading crap that someone wouldn’t like. Force. If the child doesn’t like that then it will grow terrible relationships.

  2. Beyondthe

    Also, screw vocabulary. What’s the point of communicating if you learn words people wouldn’t know. The point of talking is to communicate, not to learn kiss my butt for saying these smart ass words. Who cares.

  3. Mark Isero

    Hello, Beyondthe, and thank you for your thoughts. I think we agree — that reading shouldn’t be forced on young people. It isn’t medicine or a good-for-you. Adults should try to connect young people to stories they might enjoy.

  4. Some Guy

    Reading isn’t the only way to be smart. There is other reading, called the Internet. It may be just be, but I’m an straight-A student with all advanced classes in middle school. All of middle school. I think it’s because I don’t spend my time with books, but by reading scientific studies online, or news stories on politics and global events. I guess it’s still considered reading, but according to my school, it isn’t rewarded. Right now, my teachers force me to read, so it’s like a chore. I may be the only one here, but because people force me to do it, when I get older, and not in school, I’ll be sure to stay 50 miles away from the nearest library. I have grown to hate reading because of people forcing me to, so please reward kids for reading, and give them access to it. Find other ways to make them read, BUT DON’T FORCE IT.

    • Mark Isero

      Excellent points, Some Guy. I think you and I agree. My post was to challenge this idea that adults (teachers and parents) should force their children to read. Reading does matter, but young people should be able to choose most of what they read. Plus, there needs to be access to a ton of great reading material. There is currently a debate about whether books are more “worthy” than individual articles on the Internet. I read both, and I can see your point that reading news stories online can and should be seen as worthy, just like books. Thank you again for your thoughtful response.

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