Vacation Reading Double Standard

Josie Leavitt - February 24, 2014

The next few weeks will see many kids from my area on vacation. New York state kids just finished, Vermont kids are at the beginning of their winter break. These two weeks are always busy at the bookstore with folks stocking up on vacation reading and activities for travel.
I’ve noticed a trend this year: parents are buying “beach reading”, the books thought of as easier orbeach somewhat more entertaining reads than they would normally read. I totally understand the allure of the beach read: they’re fun, oftentimes racier than your book group picks, and they don’t require too much brain power so you can just pick up your book with your afternoon umbrella drink and not miss much. Non-fiction readers might be drawn to police procedurals on holiday, etc. Kids seem to be pressured into buying books that are a stretch, not books that are necessarily fun. I’m not sure this is fair. Why are the children being held to a higher standard than their parents?
Sadly, I think it’s because parents are fearful that kids shouldn’t read things that are easy because then they’re not reading on or above grade level. Reading sometimes seems to be all about challenge and less about enjoyment. Do not misunderstand me: I think all readers should try to stretch themselves, but sometimes, just as adults do, kids might benefit from some potato chip reading as well. There is something to be learned from all kinds of reading, and kids, just like adults, like to revisit old friends by rereading or by going down a level or two. And reading levels won’t plummet if a kid rereads a favorite book from last year. Kids are challenged all day at school with so many things that sometimes it makes sense to let them take a break and read something that’s either just plain silly fun or comforting, even if it’s an easy read.
So, if you’re lucky enough to go holiday, what are you and your kids going to pack to read?

4 thoughts on “Vacation Reading Double Standard

  1. James S.

    I’m lucky. My parents let me read whatever I wanted. I started out with comic books (still read them, actually) and, as my interests grew beyond superheroes and monsters, I started reading novelizations of movies (The Empire Strikes Back was my first – which was a pretty challenging read for a eight-year-old).
    My obsession with Star Wars led to science fiction and fantasy and I started reading much more challenging books than my grade level. My father has always been into military history so I started reading his books when I was old enough and helped with I got my degree in history later and indirectly lead to me becoming a librarian.
    So, no, I see no problems whatsoever with allowing a child to read whatever interests them or that they get enjoyment out of. It’s that type of reading that makes them a lifelong reader rather than being forced to read things that they are required to.

  2. Laura Melchor

    I’m not a kid anymore, but when I was young, I enjoyed reading Nancy Drew and The Boxcar Children and The Happy Hollisters and Trixie Belden on vacations, as well as the more literary books I read during school. I agree–kids shouldn’t feel pressured to read the literary books all the time. Sometimes easier books inspire our imaginations just as much. 🙂

  3. Debbie Dadey

    I always wondered why parents don’t read War and Peace on their vacations, but expect their children to read a kid equivalent. When kids should be enjoying picture books, some parents are pushing their kids to read harder works and the same is true for chapter books. I say, if a child enjoys the reading process they are going to do it more-so it’s a win win for parents and kids.


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