How I Got My 15-Year-Old Son to Read Jane Austen

My 15- year-old is a boy’s boy.  He loves basketball, tennis, football in the street, and video games.  He also loves flicking, walloping, snorting, yelling, burping, and dragging his brothers down the stairs.  He’s often had to inform me that reading is lame.  But slowly he’s finally caving into my insistence that he read a half hour a day this summer.  And Diary of a Wimpy Kid doesn’t count.

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I had suggested Jane Austen a few days earlier, and he gave me one of those condescending looks, those looks that asks, Are your serious?  My son keeps having to clue me in about just how clueless I really am.

I replied, “It will help you understand girls.”  He didn’t say anything for a minute.

Finally, he said, “What makes you think Jane Austen understands girls?”

“Well for one, she was a girl.”  Silence.

“So?”  He know he was reaching here, but he was not about to go down without a fight.

“For two, all of us girls still like to read her books and watch her movies because Jane Austen gets it.  She knows what we girls want.  Don’t you want to know what girls want?”   Silence again.  Thinking it best not to push it too hard, I decided to just let him chew on that for a while.

But yesterday, I asked him what book he would like to start reading next.

“You choose,” he said.

“O-kay.  We’ll do  Pride and Prejudice.

“What?  You were talking about some really creepy book you thought I should read.”

“Yeah, well I changed my mind, and you said I could choose.”  I couldn’t believe that he sat down without resistance.  He had gotten up early that morning to run two miles with his dad, played two tennis matches, biked three miles, and been to a tennis class.   He was either exhausted or felt his masculinity could handle it.

Still, not wanting to push too hard, I offered to start reading, and he nodded his head.  A few pages in, I asked him if he wanted to play the part of Mr. Bennett and to my surprise, he read his lines.  Of course, I had to explain all the nuances of what was going on, how Mr. Bennett was totally mocking his wife, and his wife didn’t even realize it.  But now, after two chapters Ben is anticipating the visit of Mr. Bingley just like the five Bennett daughters are.  Then again, maybe Austen knows what boys want too.  I mean having five pretty girls just dying to meet you doesn’t sound too bad.

Reading Log for Yesterday

Morning–20 minutes of scriptures

Afternoon–30 minutes reading to Davy (Fluff Dragon).

Afternoon—30 minutes reading to Ben (Pride and Prejudice).

Evening–45 minutes (My Loving Vigil Keeping).

Evening–10 minutes reading to all the kids (Boys in the Boat).

What books do you wish your kids would read?

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5 comments

  1. Becky!!!!!! Miss you lots! What an amazing mom you are! I loved this post. Thanks for the inspiration. I think I’ll try it on my 2 teen boys. Real question is…. were your dishes done today before you read? 😉 mine weren’t!

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