meangirlsThis summer I had quite the shock when I discovered that my son’s peers could actually influence his reading choices at the tender age of eight.  Clothes were already an issue, but poor, naïve me didn’t realize book characters also radiate a sense of coolness or lameness among the younger set.  My world tipped when my darling son made the statement, “Harry Potter’s lame.  Insert name of cool neighbor kid here said so.”

Upon hearing this, I began to sputter, ask questions rapidly, and get really, really defensive.  Things like, “How do you know?  Have you read Harry Potter?  What makes cool neighbor kid an expert on Harry Potter? Harry Potter is soooo not lame,” all began to fly at my poor, defenseless son who really had no logical reply.  I don’t count, “Because he’s 12!” as a logical reply, at least not yet anyway.

In order to convince my dear son that it’s okay to like things your friends may not necessarily like, I decided we would make Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone a chapter a night project accompanied by bean bags, blankets, and the play room floor.  Unfortunately, my brilliant idea was met with resistance as Harry Potter was still considered lame by both my kids (my five year old seemed to be infected by peer pressure too).  As the deal making began, I promised one chapter and to stop pestering them if they weren’t interested and didn’t want to continue.   By the end of the first chapter, I could tell that both were grudgingly interested.  They didn’t want to be, but they were.  By the end of the second night, they were practically begging for more and would late ask me to read to them during the day.  They haven’t asked to read another since then and I haven’t applied any pressure.  They gave me the one book and no longer think Harry is lame:  It worked this time and I’m happy.

I wish getting people to accept romance were as simple as persuading an eight year old to give a book a try.  We all hear and read the negative comments aimed at the romance genre and I’ll admit that I don’t advertise the fact I read it voraciously.  Those who know me know what I read and I know which of my friends and acquaintances read romance as well.  Since I’ve been reading, the only person I’ve tried to bring over to the “dark” side is my sister.  On my last attempt at conversion, I picked up the books Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas, Match Me If You Can and Heaven, Texas both by Susan E. Phillips.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t successful but I refuse to give up.

Have you been a book bully and successfully introduced someone to romance? If so, how did you do it? Or, is it even worth it?

– Heather AAR