First Chapter Rule

A Child Who Sleeps on His Book  Jean-Baptize Greuze

There is a difference between assigned reading and an assigned book.  One of the rules of our house for assigned reading was

“If, by the end of the first chapter,
 you don’t want to continue,
stop reading it. 
Pick another book.” 

I had enough confidence that a good book would draw in the reader by the end of the first chapter.  I weaseled a lot of books into my sons’ hands with this promise.  They often looked at a book I was pedaling with mistrust, refusing to acknowledge that their mom had any idea what boys would want to read.  And I tried not to rub their snotty noses in it when they kept reading beyond the first chapter. 


9 thoughts on “First Chapter Rule

  1. Two of the books I assigned to Natalie caused a huge ruckus.She did not want to read them – at all. But she did, and they have both made it onto her top five favorite books list. The books in question were The Witch of Blackbird Pond and Number the Stars.
    P.S. I, too, try (not always successfully) not to rub her nose in it!

  2. I find, as an adult, that some of my favorite books were actually slow starters. It took me several chapters to get into them. Elizabeth Goudge is like that, but perseverance is the key to finding the treasures locked therein.
    One book I’m sorry I bought and still have nothing to commend in it is _The Jane Austen Book Club_   Yuck, yuck, I thought it might get better, but not so far…just yuck. Don’t bother with it. I stopped reading and wioll list it on PBS soon. What a disappointment.
    The Kite Runner and Kristin Lavransdater (sp) await me.

  3. Excellent rule.  I guess you saw all my *rules* over at Cindy’s.
    Plus I think I saw this Greuze this weekend at the exhibit, juxtaposed with a Renoir of his son, Jean, drawing/writing at a table.

  4. My mom the librarian has suggested that if you can’t get into the first chapter to skip it and start on chapter two or three.  You can always go back if needed.  This probably applies to required high school reading.  I think James Michener as well.

  5. Indeed, Wildflower, I never read the first chapter of Michener.  This is really a rule to help get kids reading.  There is a time to buckle down and read something you would rather not read.  My son reminded me that I waffled on the rule a few times and made him persist through two chapters. 

  6. Oh yes, Kathleen – it was just to get them into books.  The assigned *books* did not come under this rule.  I think it is a good lesson in perseverance to slog through some tough-to-read writing, especially when the rewards are so bountiful.On the other hand, it wasn’t until I was 25 that I put a book down unfinished.  It was seared into my brain to finish any book I began.  A friend had given me *Gorky Park* and wanted me to read it.  I just couldn’t get into it (and it may have had questionable content, I can’t remember).  When I mentioned this to my friend she was astonished: “Why don’t keep reading it!”  That was a new concept for me, but has served me well.  There are too many good books to waste time on mediocre.

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