Make Sure They’re Busy Doing This

Harry Truman was once asked if he ever got in trouble as a kid. “Very, very seldom,” he said. “I was too busy. I told you I’d read all three thousand books in the library by the time I was fourteen years old.” Were there any troublemakers in your neighborhood or at school? “We had boys who were terrible,” he said. “But I was too busy reading books to be bad.”

We’ve talked about the many different benefits to raising a reader. We’ve talked about how it might be through a book that they might discover a life-changing interest. We’ve talked about how books instill a curiosity required to do great things. We’ve talked about how books are a great leveler, can give kids an unusual advantage, and can make them great communicators.

Truman gives a great one to add to the list: readers very, very seldom get into trouble. They’re too busy. They already live in a world of high stakes–that of history, of great novels, of epic stories–why do they need to go around creating drama and problems in the real world?

Of course, kids get in trouble for a lot of reasons, but “not having anything better to do” is one you can solve for right now. Introduce them to the world of books. Challenge them, incentivize them to read. Let them fall in love with those worlds, and live there as much as they want.

It’ll cause a lot less trouble for the both of you.

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