To Finish or Not to Finish....

To read or not to read -- that is NOT the question.  Yes, you need to read, but do you need to finish that book?


Perhaps, like me, you were told to “finish what you begin,” and that adage extended to books.  From childhood throughout my youth and into adulthood, I dutifully finished every book I started.  I’ve waded through some tomes that were pretty much pure torture.  One that immediately comes to mind is Atlas Shrugged.  I finished it, but began to speak to myself differently after that.  “I’m a grown-up.”  “I don’t have to read things I don’t like.”  “Life is short.”  “There are so many great/enjoyable books out there.”  You get the idea.


So now, I give a book a good go, but if it doesn’t grab me by the third chapter or so, I make a different choice.  You may wonder – should we “make” kids finish books?  


If the child has a chronic problem of not finishing things, then maybe a well-chosen book with subject matter of interest to said child should be a must-finish project. Maybe an incentive could be established to encourage the finishing of one book, then two, etc.  If you find a series of children’s books, and the first one is a hit, then you are golden.  Here’s a handy online database that may help your search:  (Hint:  Elementary-aged boys tend to like factual, non-fiction books.)


Maybe your child’s school has an active Accelerated Reader (AR) program with points earned for reading books and taking online quizzes.  For some kids, that’s great incentive to finish a book.  If you want to look up the reading level and point value of books, you can go to:


My own kids weren’t crazy about AR, but they liked to “earn” new books by reading a certain number of books (in keeping with their ages/abilities).  They would keep track on a reading chart at home and then we’d make a trip to the bookstore so they could choose a new book for their growing home library.


If incentives to read are not an issue, and you have an already voraciously reading child, then he or she has probably developed some discernment about what they like, and even recognize the difference between good and not-so-good writing.  In that case, I would apply the same principle that I give myself:  Read a few chapters, and if you’re not engaged – give it up and make another choice. 


They may not yet be grown-ups, but they may be allowed to obey the little voice in their heads that says things like: “I don’t have to read things I don’t like.”  “Life is short.”  “There are so many great/enjoyable books out there.”