Reading and My Son

If you are skilful enough, there is a way to get someone who doesn’t like to read, to like it very much.

It works by creating psychological association. It is best illustrated by Pavlov’s experiment. Pavlov rang a bell every time he fed the dog. After a while, the dog salivated every time he heard the sound of a bell.

I have never tried this with Sec 2 because I am not an educational psychologist… but if it works with adults and with Little Boy, it should work with a teen (I think). like it or not, even if we aren’t dogs, we do respond to similar operant conditioning.

Little Boy didn’t particularly enjoy reading. The Daughter took to reading with great pleasure. Wearing pampers, she would bring a book to any willing adult and get it read to her. Little Boy yawned whenever we read to him.

I made sure that bedtime was everything nice. Good ambience, nice glass of milk, aircon, cuddles, tickles, laughs… I also junked his sister’s library in favour of books on firemen, soldiers etc… that made his heart beat faster. He soon learnt to like being read to. Reading and happiness went together.

I then had a problem. He wouldn’t read by himself because being read to was so nice. So I forced things a bit. I made him read a bit every day to me. This developed competence. I was careful to choose books he liked adventures and pets and Science. I kept away most toys and when he was bored, he started to relieve his boredom by reading.

Then I waited for THE DAY… the opportunity that cannot be crafted… that you must watch and wait for, and make the most of it. That day came when he was a little ill and I kept him home. He picked up a book spontaneously (SPONTANEITY is an important condition). He was somewhat engrossed in the book, and I hit the iron whilst it was hot.

I proposed that even if he was sick, we would go to Borders and buy ANY book he chose (CHOICE is important). We went down. It was different than the school routine so the heart beats a bit faster already. We had a nice lunch at Sakae Sushi so Little Boy was happy (heart beat faster also). The increased heart beat (from happiness, not fear) is another important condition.

Then, at Borders, I followed him around the store and if he took even one Famous Five book, I pulled out whatever else of Famous Five were there. We came home with Famous Five, Secret Seven and a one or two other sets… Buying things makes people happy. That mound of books we lugged home made him really happy.

It was elation he felt at the end of the day. It was due to everything… from a happy outing to a good lunch to a major acquisition. The feelings were so intense that there was a psychological imprint and because the mound of books was a tangible THING he could touch and feel (whilst lunch and outings were intangibles), the whole bundle of emotions became associated with BOOKS.

From that day on specifically, Little Boy fell in love with reading. He likes the smell of new books, and when he is sad, he will pick up a book to make himself feel better. Till today, even if he can read, he still likes to negotiate a passage or 2 out of me at bedtime.

The trick is to create intense feelings of joy and make it such that books are there in the vicinity somewhere so that an association happens. For teens, maybe you need girlfriends? Haha! But then… oh no… girlfriends are tangible realities too. Won’t work with girlfriends.

Certainly, you can’t do exactly what I did… but the principle is to create an emotional association that the unreasoning mind attributes to books because books are there. Strategizing and implementing the strategy is difficult though because you need to know your child.

What makes your child CRAZY happy (which at the same time possesses no tangible form)?

This thing even works when trying to get people to fall in love. In a famous experiment, men were asked to walk over a heavily shaking suspension bridge. In the middle, they met a girl… and at the end, they rated how attractive the girl was. Those with heightened heartbeats tended to rate the girl as more attractive… confusing their heightened adrenaline from the excitement of crossing the bridge, with the tangible person standing in the middle.

Maybe that is why fairytale heros always marry the lady they braved through danger to save? For all you know, Rapunzel could be REALLY ugly but her prince fell in love after climbing that awful tower (almost plunging down and killing himself)… and why did SHREK fall in love with Fiona, and Lord Farquhar didn’t huh?

Heeeeeeeeee! But I think with a teen… it can be hard to implement this. You’ll need to be very resourceful and skilful at manipulating the conditions.

Thanks for sharing :)

Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

thanks for sharing

thanks for sharing

Thanks Just4Good!

Thanks Just4Good!


I also like reading! Everybody (almost everybody) know how to read. You can also buy a kindle instead of buying all those books.

autumnbronze: You're always

autumnbronze: You’re always so wonderfully encouraging! So sorry everyone that I didn’t know what to do with these kudos and comments. Was scratching my head for a while trying to figure things out. Now I know what is expected of me.

hmsg: We didn't have a

hmsg: We didn’t have a TV… heh!

Schweppes: You're welcome!

Schweppes: You’re welcome!

foreverj: *face red* thank

foreverj: *face red* thank you.

juz_me: I kinda figured out

juz_me: I kinda figured out that my son liked non-fiction too… and adventures.

mambobb, I wish so too!

mambobb, I wish so too!

Wow! With all this

Wow! With all this encouragement PLUS the lovely kiasu points PLUS those nice auction items… I will be writing reams!!

Yum! Mwahahahahaha!

My DD1 4yo likes story

My DD1 4yo likes story books too.. always want me to read to her. I hope one day she will read to me too 

I hope my DS2 will follow his sister’s footstep too.. heehee

Thanks for sharing.

Thanks for sharing.Β  :) My

Thanks for sharing.  πŸ™‚

My elder son – Pri 3 – loves to read comics. Chapter books – he is not very interested.

Younger son – Pri 1 – loves to read non-fiction books such as animals, dinosaurs and comics. Comes to reading chapter books – he is also not very interested.

I am hoping one fine day – they will fall in love with reading….   πŸ™‚


hi chenonceau have been

hi chenonceau

have been really impressed with your posts under the tiger mother’s thread. u r one of THE MUMs whose posts I would read, consider, deliberate and internalise. So thank you so much for sharing your invaluable parenting experiences and do keep writing! πŸ™‚ 


Whoa! Hey! I didn't know my

Whoa! Hey! I didn’t know my post was here!! Thank you all for the encouraging comments. Still not sure if it’ll work for other mommies though. One really needs a lot of skill to carry this off (patience and vigilance to wait for THE DAY too).

Interesting read. Thanks

Interesting read. Thanks for sharing Chenonceau

mine was similar case, but I

mine was similar case, but I greatly reduced TV time… bought a lot of books… to kill time, he slowly took to reading n now… he can’t get his hands off them!

Great article

Hi chenonceau,

Great article.

Thanks for sharing

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