“Found it! Dad, this is the one I want!”

“No, you have read enough of that series. Find something else.”

“How about this one, Dad?”

“No, I am not buying another comic book.”

I could not help myself. I nonchalantly made my way through the stacks. I was wondering: How old is this boy? “What did he want that was so objectionable to his dad?  After all, here he was in a bookstore, in ski country during February vacation. With so much written about how kids these days aren’t reading, I was pleased that here he was actively engaged in looking for a book.

Curious ,I rounded the corner to see the young man hang his head and replace a book from the Bone series by Jeff Smith back on the shelf. Hmm, I thought that is not a comic book.  It is a graphic novel. They are quite popular with the middle school crowd and are not as easy to read and understand as they appear to be.

I continued my eavesdropping. Dad pulled book after book from the shelves. “How about this one? Take a look at this.” Head shakes from the young reader.

“You need to challenge yourself. No more easy books.”

“Why?” I wanted to ask. I wanted to stick my nose in to this and ask Dad why the young man needed to challenge himself. Why could he not choose his own book?  We spend time in school teaching our readers how to choose books. We teach them to pick books on topics that interest them. We show them popular books, award winning books and tell them to listen to their friends. After all, isn’t that what adults do?

Don’t forget this was vacation week! I am not ashamed to say that I left all my professional books at home. I packed a ‘beach’ book and a middle school novel. Both books would be easy reads, not the least bit challenging but I was reading for fun. I was on vacation and did not want a challenge. I did not want to read something I had to.

I kept asking myself, why can’t this reader pick what he wants? Why can’t he read for fun? He has many years of school left where well- meaning people will tell him what he has to read. Why can’t he buy a book he wants and enjoy it? Isn’t that how we will create life long readers?

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