Blogger Kiera Parrott

A (Reluctant) Reader’s Bill of Rights

I’m a big fan of Daniel Pennac’s Readers Bill of Rights.  As a librarian- but mostly as a reader– it comforts me and has often empowered me to put down a book I wasn’t enjoying.  In case you haven’t seen it in a while:

1. The right to not read

2. The right to skip pages

3. The right to not finish

4. The right to reread

5. The right to read anything

6. The right to escapism

7. The right to read anywhere

8. The right to browse

9. The right to read out loud

10. The right to not defend your tastes

I often find myself invoking these rights when encouraging reluctant readers.  The right to skip pages, the right to browse, the right to reread (and reread and reread) are all tenets that have helped me begin to unite young (often reluctant) readers with books they will enjoy.  A few months ago, however, I found myself wanting more.  I began positing the creation of a Reluctant Reader’s Bill of Rights.  I posted the idea on my personal blog and encouraged visitors to add their own additions.  Here’s what we came up with:

The right to read at your own pace.

The right to choose whatever book you want.

The right to read graphic novels and manga.

The right to read magazines.

The right to read non-fiction.

The right to not like a book.

The right to read books published for different age levels

This is a project I still consider a work in progress.  I’d love to open up a wider dialogue about reluctant readers and how to best reach out to them.  I believe the first step is to inform them of their options and then empower them to make a choice.  Please add your own additions and suggestions in the comments!

11 comments

  1. Max Elliot Anderson

    Hi,

    I grew up as a reluctant reader. Now I write action-adventures & mysteries, especially for boys 8 and up, that kids hate to put down. My web site is at http://www.maxbooks.9k.com and my Books for Boys blog is at http://booksandboys.blogspot.com I also have a short story in a new book called LAY UPS and LONG SHOTS, published by Darby Creek Publishing. I’m also featured in an article in the 2009 edition of Children’s Writer Guide.

    My other books are all ranked by Accelerated Reader

    Max Elliot Anderson

  2. Katie Servos, MLS Student

    Reading this post just made my day. I wasn’t a reluctant reader as a child (in fact, I was a voracious reader); however, my tastes in books were and are rather idiosyncratic.

    Some possible additions:

    The right to read old books.
    The right to read strange books.
    The right to read obscure books.
    The right to read “trashy” books.
    The right to read books in languages other than English.
    The right to read books your friends or teachers don’t like.
    The right to read controversial books.

    – Katie, who reads all of the above.

  3. shannon

    the right to read audiobooks

  4. Lisa McBroom

    My neice did not like to read conventinal books but would read newspapers and news magnazines. It ended up she was more well informed on issues than I was. Also I loved the comment about reading old books. I just finished rereading a childhod favorite of mine called Mama Hattie’s Girl by Lois Lenski. Our library weeded her books all except Strawberry Girl and I miss her books. She went around rural areas in the 30s and 40s and 50s and interviewed rural children and then wrote about them. It’s nice to reread old favorites and bring back that innocence of childhood!

  5. jomichele

    I would love to see this made up as a poster as well as a bookmark. I get so sick of prescribed reading for juveniles, no wonder they are reluctant!

  6. Judith

    I think my ideas can be summed up in a single sentence:

    You have the right to read, reread (or not read), and to like or dislike whatever kind of book, website, or other publication you want.

  7. Amy Hartman

    Publishers seem to want books to be 400 or more pages long these days, but people don’t have more spare time than they did decades ago, when novels of 200-300 pages were more common. (Compare Ian Fleming’s work to Tom Clancy’s, for example.) When an author alternates point-of-view between hero and villain or numerous minor characters, I may skip the villain/minor character sections. I’m an omnivorous reader who pounces gleefully on books from favorite authors, but authors who waste my time don’t become favorites.

  8. Gretchen

    The right to read websites (online)

  9. Edstrom Educational Consulting

    I love this Bill of Rights. We are tackling the issue of the reluctant reader and building passion in students on our blog. Help us construct a list of wonderful books that build passionate readers!

    http://www.ededco.com/ready-to-read-part-i-a-follow-up

  10. Kell Brigan

    May I add…

    “The right to know whether or not a book has been professionally edited.”

    and

    “The right to know whom, if anyone, has professionally vetted the book for quality.”

    It’s become extraordinarily wearying to have to weed out self-published stuff, both online and in book clubs. IMO, many selfies are deliberately dishonest in their attempts to masquerade as authors of books that have been traditionally published. Even though they claim to hate editors, everything they do as “marketing” is to try to make themselves look like they’ve been through the vetting and editing process. I buy books now on the basis of publisher as author; researching the publisher of a work is now an essential part of my buying/reading process. I wish it were faster. I wish it were easier. I wish there weren’t so many fakers around trying to fool me into wasting time with their slush…

  11. Kirsten D Kowalewski

    Kiera,

    Here’s the Genre Reader’s Bill of Rights. This was originally shared on LM_NET when I was still in library school, but I don’t know who to credit. It does share some elements with Pennac’s Reader’s Bill of Rights, but I had never heard of that until years after I printed this out and saved it. We have it posted in the “About Reading” section of our blog at Musings of the Monster Librarian. It is not entirely kid-friendly, though, I’m afraid, and I like some of the suggestions I see above.

    The Genre Readers Bill of Rights

    You have the right never to apologize for your reading tastes.
    You have the right to read anything you want.
    You have the right to read anywhere you want… in the bathtub, in the car, in the grocery store, under the porch, or while walking the dog.
    You have the right to read in bed. Under the covers. With a flashlight.
    You have the right to carry books in your baggage at all times.
    You have the right to read in exotic settings.
    You have the right to move your lips when you read.
    You have the right to read the good parts out loud to your nearest and dearest.
    You have the right to refuse to read the good parts out loud to your nearest and dearest.
    You have the right to read and eat at the same time. (This right, however, does not include the right to use food as a bookmark when you are reading library books. Even if it’s the very best potato salad.)
    You have the right to read and make love at the same time. (But– depending on local ordinances and regulations– you may or may not have the right to ask your librarian for suggested books.)
    You have the right to read as many books as you want at the same time.
    You have the right to throw any book on the floor and jump up and down on it (provided that you paid for it first).
    You have the right to ignore the critics at the New York Review of Books.
    More importantly, you have the right to ignore the critics in your immediate family.
    You have the right to stop reading a book whenever you decide it’s not worth the effort, or that you simply don’t like it.
    You have the right to refuse to read any book anyone else picks out for you. Even if it’s a birthday present. (This is associated with your right to refuse to wear any necktie or perfume you receive as a gift.)
    You have the right to skip all the boring parts.
    You have the right to read the last chapter first.
    You have the right to read the last chapter first and then put the book back on the shelf.
    You have the right to refuse to read any book where you don’t like the picture of the author. FINALLY, the Genre Reader’s Miranda Right:
    If you do not have a genre book of your own, a genre book will be provided for you by your public library.

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