Today I tested the theory of benign neglect as a means to encourage youthful reading. It works! The rules are fairly simple:
- Provide books, artfully arranged in bookcases, on all available surfaces, and even strewn on the floor.
- Strictly forbid any screen time of any kind — for the kids, of course. TV, video games, computer are all ruled out. Then write.
- Write the introduction to Henley’s 20th century formulas, which from now on will be dubbed “Make Anything 1914 edition”
- Studiously ignore all attempts to get your attention. No monopoly. No Uno. Respond to any request with a vague “in a minute, honey” while carefully avoiding eye contact.
Eventually the subjects of this experiment will tire of playing with legos, and they will even tire of bickering with each other. After a time of eery silence you can creep out with your camera and snap their picture. Then get back to writing.
Update: I expanded on this idea and published a prize-winning article called How to Turn your Kids into Bookworms. In case you are wondering, the prize was NOT a Pulizer, just a T-shirt and a Knex Building set. Still made me very happy, and my boys were ecstatic.