A Reason to Read


My daughter and her horse, Obie.

It’s often said if you want to befriend a horse, you earn its trust by standing still, then turning and walking away. The hope is that the horse will follow.  When my oldest daughter had no desire to read, I was at a loss-what books would entice her to follow me down the literary path? She loved hearing me read aloud, but bucked when it came to reading for school or on her own.

Then my family’s horse genes kicked in, with all four hooves. My grandpa on my dad’s side had worked on a ranch, and my maternal grandpa had raised ponies. I’d grown up in the saddle and obsessed over all things equine as a girl. So of course I was delighted when my daughter’s tween years became “the barn years.”


Hoping this new-found passion would lasso her into reading, I offered her my favorite horse books. And even though it was hard as a homeschooling mom, for an entire year I left my daughter alone-no book reports, no quizzes, no pressure. Just a girl and her horse books. She began to devour them and beg for more. I signed her up for monthly book clubs, and she galloped through the pages. Recently, she was helping her younger sister pack before her wedding, and my daughter grabbed up her horse books and hugged them. “I’m taking these home,” she declared, and I couldn’t help but smile remembering the little girl who had once hated to read. (Two of my favorite books that aren’t pictured above are National Velvet by Enid Bagnold and Misty of Chicoteague by Marguerite Henry.)


Now my daughter’s dream  job (besides being a professional barrel racer) is to become a librarian. On average, she says she reads five novels a week.

I’m convinced that the way to get a child to befriend books is simply by finding the right hook, whether that be sports, humor, or horses.

For more great horses and reading posts, check out this MUF post by Jen K. Blom and this MUF post by Jaye Robin Brown.

What are your favorite horse books? What books were the “hook” for you or your reluctant reader?

stacks_image_46Louise Galveston is the author of BY THE GRACE OF TODD and IN TODD WE TRUST (Penguin/Razorbill). She grew up on horseback in Oklahoma. This is not one of her more sensible moments.

  1. It was delightful to read about kids hooking into reading. Thank-you! As a school librarian, it is a cherished moment when a student, previously disinterested in reading, finds something absolutely right for the moment. As a matter of fact, we were sharing this in our library the other day. My intrepid assistant librarian (who reads voraciously and really understands the middle-grade reader) shared a book she recommended to a young girl a few weeks ago. Yesterday she was heralded by the excited announcement, “That was the BEST book I ever read in my life.” Yep, just a perfect moment. Thank-you for sharing your wonderful story. It was heartwarming to hear that your daughter wanted to take the horse books with her.

    Nancy Kiefer
    University Child Development School, Seattle

  2. Such wisdom here~ thanks for sharing! And I just read Misty of Chincoteague with my daughter! We visited Chincoteague Island while on vacation a couple of years ago and the title caught my eye 🙂

  3. It’s always fun to read about reluctant readers finding their way to loving reading. My grandson has fallen away from reading and we are really having trouble finding anything to engage him, but we keep trying. Thanks for the post.