The Bookworm Thief

I own a book monster. I take her to library, she gets out ten books, and two days later, she’s read them all. I usually find her roaming around the house at night, picking up newspapers and magazines, desperate for something to read until she can get her next library fix. (Which is why she keeps saying things like, “Mum, I read this thing about Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik in Grazia the other day and you know, Gigi looks really like Perrie Edwards, who Zayn used to go out with – isn’t that mad?” Indeed it is, but I need to get some proper reading material for her now.)

Bringing three kids to the library every second day isn’t sustainable, so I needed another solution. I had been thinking about getting her a Kindle, but wasn’t sure – she doesn’t have a tablet and apart from the occasional random “Mum, can I have an iPad?” request, she’s perfectly content without. So for a girl who’s happy to read and play made-up games and draw pictures and cycle her bike, going digital might be an unnecessary slippery slope.

Reading - Office Mum

But this summer, with all that extra free time for reading, it became impossible to keep the book monster fed, so I decided it was time to go electronic. I suggested we go halves on a Kindle, using some money she has saved up, and she agreed. The excitement was high as she handed over the money and waited for her new toy to arrive. It turned out that the Fire was cheaper than the Kindle, meaning it’s a tablet rather than just an e-reader, so that’s what we bought – but we agreed that it wasn’t to be used for games; it was for reading and nothing else.

She borrowed some books through Overdrive (a fantastic free library app) and got reading. Hurrah! The book-worm was sated, and we could get back to weekly library trips. (Because of course I still want her to read real books too.)

The following day, she read all morning, then went up to my room to recharge the battery when it ran out. She stayed up there to read. A while later, my husband rang to say he’d just got an email notifying him that someone using his account had downloaded Angry Birds about an hour earlier. Up I went to see what was going on. She closed the Kindle. I asked if she was reading. She didn’t reply. I got her to unlock it and show me. She apologised and said she didn’t mean it and just got sidetracked and wanted to see what was in the games section and suddenly loads of time went by. Who can blame her – devices are addictive (try taking my phone from me for any length of time) and games are addictive. She’s a kid – of course she clicked into the games. But it still makes me a little bit sad, that within hours of going digital, my book monster had forsaken her beloved Jacqueline Wilson for Angry Birds.

And I admit, although I love my phone and my Mac and every form of social media, I’m in no rush for my kids to go online. Technology is wonderful but it’s also a time-thief, and now a book-worm thief too. No doubt, eventually something else will steal her reading time – exams, a social life, or (as in my case) getting a car space at work and no longer taking the bus. But until then, I want to keep her love of books alive.

I can’t delete access to apps and games on her Kindle, so instead we’re going with agreeing what’s allowed and building up trust. Which I guess is all part of growing up, and sending her out into the  digital world. Well, a little trust and a strong, impenetrable parental password. Into the scary unknown we go.


On the subject of reading – if you’ve ever wondered whether it’s really important to read to kids and what they get out of it, I wrote about it here for the Independent: Word Up: You can never start them too young when it comes to reading.




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4 thoughts on “The Bookworm Thief”

  1. Thanks for this as my 9 year old daughter is the exact same and we were thinking about a Kindle for Christmas….I’ll continue thinking after your experience. I also find it hard at the library to find age appropriate books she hasn’t read! The school will be thrilled with her summer readathon fund raising efforts 🙂 It’s a wonderful gift loving to read – means they’ll never be bored. Love your blogs keep them coming!

    1. It’s so hard when they run out of books! I let mine read books that are for slightly older kids now, with the agreement that she comes to me if she has questions or doesn’t understand something. She told me last night she’s run out of books on Overdrive now – I need to find new authors for her. There’s a book clinic in Lexicon in Dun Laoghaire on October 8th so I’m going to bring her to that and get some new ideas!

  2. I tried to lure my son to read more with the Kindle Fire kids edition- I got the child’s version (cheapest!) last Christmas. It came with a year of complimentary Amazon Free Time so I can limit how much game time there is and require that he read a certain amount BEFORE any games, plus prohibit use during certain hours of the day – love that part!

  3. I loved reading to my kids Andrea. Now years later one of them is still addicted to books. It’s only in recent months she has switched to kindle as she just loves the feel of a book. I used have to go to the library twice a week with them and they each had two cards so they could take out double the amount of books. It’s a great gift to give them.

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