Blogger Kary Henry

Reading Habits

In a recent conversation with a colleague, she mentioned that it had been a while since she had finished a book she started. Shortly after that, a caregiver asked me if a particular book was on her child’s reading level. These exchanges got me to thinking about adult reading habits….and how we need to allow children to have those same habits.

Finish What You Start…or Don’t!

“Finish what you start” was a childhood lesson. To some extent, it’s a valuable approach. Except when it comes to reading. As an adult, I might start a book and decide I’m not going to finish it. Perhaps it hasn’t hooked me quickly enough. Maybe it’s too long. It’s possible (probable?) I thought I wanted to learn about X topic, read 50 pages, and realized, hmmm, I actually am not interested in X topic! Perhaps I started a book, got distracted, and then didn’t feel like picking it back up. Maybe it just ISN’T THE BOOK FOR ME. For pleasure reading, children should have this same freedom.

Books Aren’t Gendered

There aren’t “boy books” or “girl books.” A good book is a good book. Full stop.

Reading is Reading

Everyday, my lanyard features a badge I made that simply states, “I believe that reading is reading, so read what you want.” It comes in handy when…

  • an adult asks me if a book is on their child’s level.
  • the adult says they want a “real book” instead of a graphic novel.
  • an adult asks me for a book/series that their child hasn’t read already, even when said child wants to keep rereading that book/series.

As gently as I can, I flip the conversation back to the adult. I ask them…

  • when they last wondered whether a book was on their level.
  • if they ever read a magazine instead of a “real book.”
  • if they ever watch a rerun of a TV show or see a movie for the second time.

I show them my badge. We talk about pleasure reading versus reading for an assignment. I lightheartedly tell them that I read People magazine in a waiting room and never, for one second, wonder if the articles are on my level. We talk about battlegrounds and how reading doesn’t need to be one.

Badge with image of book and text "I believe that reading is reading, so read what you want!"
Photo courtesy of Kary Henry

What are your reading habits? How can we extend those same courtesies to children? How do you help educate adults about these issues? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.


This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competencies: I. Commitment to Client Group, II. Reference and User Services, and V. Outreach and Advocacy.

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