Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Good Reasons to DNF Books

This post is for you, my fellow teachers. Do you realize the harm you do when you force children to read books? Yes, there is the occasional happy moment of a conversion of a nonreader into a passionate classics reader, but that really doesn’t happen all that often, does it?

No, far more common is the conversion of an occasional reader into a book hater, a person who has had such an awful, traumatic experience reading a book that he never wants to read again.

So, my words to the wise are simple: choice. Let children read the books they want to read. Give them support when they take on difficult books. And if a book doesn’t work for a child, let them DNF it. Often. We grownup readers DNF all the time. Every book isn’t good for every person, even the most amazing of books.

Here are some acceptable reasons children (and grownups) can DNF books:

“I couldn’t get into this book.”

“This book is too long.”

“The vocabulary makes this book hard to read.”

“The characters are boring.”

“I don’t like the characters.”

“I’ve read a book like this before.”

“This book is too weird/scary/boring for me.”

“I don’t like to read books about X.”

“I only like to read books about X.”

Basically, any version of “I don’t want to read this book,” is good enough for this librarian.

How about you? What is your philosophy for your students and reading? What are your thoughts about this?

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each Tuesday That Artsy Reader Girl assigns a topic and then post her top ten list that fits that topic. You’re more than welcome to join her and create your own top ten (or 2, 5, 20, etc.) list as well. Feel free to put a unique spin on the topic to make it work for you! Please link back to That Artsy Reader Girl in your own post so that others know where to find more information.


  1. I'm not a teacher, but I often told people at the library to stop reading a book if it wasn't working for them. And then, I'd try to help them find one that would work. We had a children's librarian so I didn't often work with the kids and parents looking for the right book, but I was the go-to person for adult fiction. I also told the book groups I worked with that DNF is perfectly fine. I asked that they just share what didn't work for them if they were comfortable doing that. So DNF with abandon! LOL

  2. I am pretty good about selecting books but sometimes, like for book club I get stuck reading something I know I won't like. For book club I usually read it anyway so I can discuss it but recently I gave up on A Truck Full of Money at the 50% mark because I was bored out of my mind. Crappy writing is usually my main reason for a DNF but this time it was sheer boredom.

  3. I am all about not finishing a book if it isn't working for me. I usually give it 50 to 70 pages though.

  4. This is an interesting point that I haven't really thought. I have an 8 year old who is a competent reader but doesn't love it and I'm trying to encourage him to read more for pleasure. I think letting him DNF books he's not connecting to will really help foster that enjoyment.

  5. It all sounds great for kids, but I still have a really hard time DNFing. I need to get better at it- especially as I'm such a slow reader.


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