Reading As Punishment?

So I’m still afraid of that high dive. And despite my own excuses, I know I’ve still got to keep posting. Sorry it’s been so long. (Can you hear me screaming?)

I do most of my writing at my local YMCA while my boys get supervised play for two hours. Many times, I shut myself up in a small room that doubles as a chapel and library. This helps to minimize distractions. However, as I sit here now, wishing their internet was working again so I could do some research, there is a little boy who comes in to read. It doesn’t seem as if he really wants to though, because he is quite fidgety, but no more of a distraction than the loud basketball game on the court just outside the door.

What is distracting is that the employee who sometimes monitors the game room (a nice fellow actually), will send the child in here and demand that he sit and read. Because of the attitudes and body language of both the employee and the child, my first impulse was to think, “Is he making the boy read for punishment?”

The first time this happened, I wanted to get involved. I don’t believe reading should ever be a punishment for bad behavior. All the child learns is that reading equals bad attitudes and negativity. Why would he ever want to read voluntarily after learning that? Children should and will voluntarily sit and read a book for enjoyment. But no child I’ve ever heard of will voluntarily place themselves in a time out because they enjoy it. If it had been me as a child, however, reading wouldn’t be much of a punishment since I’ve always enjoyed it.

However, I didn’t say anything because I thought, “This isn’t my child. This isn’t my business.” On the other hand, I was also thinking, “But it kind of is my business because books are my business.” I would hate to think that someday a parent would make their child sit and read a book of mine as punishment.

In the end, I thought about it further and realized that I didn’t know the full story. Perhaps the little boy was the employee’s actual son and a certain amount of reading time was required for schoolwork. This is something I can live with no matter how much the little boy resists reading. I’m sure it must be difficult for him to sit and read while his friends play outside the door. I probably misunderstood what I had seen.

But now I wonder.

Are there really parents who use reading as punishment? If you saw a child misbehave and then saw their parents make them sit down and read a book for punishment, would you say something? Do you think it’s okay to make reading a punishment?


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