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?
Louise 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.