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Welcome to the Horn Book's Family Reading blog, a place devoted to offering children's book recommendations and advice about the whats and whens and whos and hows of sharing books in the home. Find us on Twitter @HornBook and on Facebook at

On “Unlucky Arithmetic: Thirteen Ways to Raise a Nonreader” (from 2001)

One of our most popular handouts at conferences and meetings has always been Dean Schneider and Robin Smith’s brilliant, biting “Unlucky Arithmetic: Thirteen Ways to Raise a Nonreader“(from the March/April 2001 issue of The Horn Book Magazine).

Times may have changed somewhat — “#2. Put a TV or computer in every room. Don’t neglect the bedrooms and kitchen” would probably include something about smartphones; and “#11. Never allow your child to listen to books on tape; that’s cheating” (tapes? what are those?). But all of the points remain just as relevant — and we could all use a reminder sometimes. You don’t have to correct every mispronunciation. You should check the wattage on your light bulbs. If you need a break from adulting to go sit and read, it’s not necessarily neglectful. Though, okay, who reading this blog would actually do this? “#5. Once your child can read independently, throw out the picture books. They’re for babies.” NO ONE, right?

Click here to print out your own version of “Unlucky Arithmetic.”

Unlucky Arithmetic poster download


Elissa Gershowitz About Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons College and a BA from Oberlin College.

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