The Fat Man That Never Came Back by Elizabeth Goddard


Did the title grab your attention? Did it make you want to read more of this post? If so, then it had the desired effect.  I’m currently teaching my youngest son to read. He wasn’t interested in reading this morning, that is, until I read him the title of the next story in his reading book. Then he was anxious to know why the fat man never came back.

Where does the love of reading come from? I can’t ever remember a time that I didn’t love to read, but I do recall being curious about a book when my elementary school classmates passed it around, talking about how good it was. Of course, I made sure to check out that book as soon as it became available in the school library.  My mother was an avid reader, so she served as an example to me, and I had ample books on her bookshelves from which to choose, often spending entire summers doing nothing but reading, and sometimes reading the same books twice.

Now as a home schooling mom, I’ve seen firsthand that the love of reading doesn’t necessarily come naturally, even when my children have me as their example—a person who not only loves to read (has too many books to count on numerous shelves) but writes as well.

My children also have their love of video games fighting for their attention, but in my limited experience, I’ve learned that finding a story that interests them can ignite their love of reading.

The good news is that it only takes one.

In my daughter’s case, she claimed to hate reading until the day she read a long historical novel I’d given her as part of her school work and it so captivated her that she read all day until she finished the four hundred plus page novel. She begged me to get the next book in the series. I was more than happy to, considering I saw that fire—the love of reading—was stirred in her, and it has continued to burn. Now, some five years later, she has her own bookshelves full of books she loves, and enjoys writing, too.

Stirring that love in my boys has been more difficult. When I think back to my high school English classes, I remember many of the books we were required to read appealed to very few. Of course, that wasn’t the purpose behind reading them.  Lord of the Flies and The Scarlet Letter are two that I remember. I read them because I was already an avid reader, but those who hadn’t found the love of reading struggled.

My twelve-year-old son hated reading until this year when a book he was required to read for school, The Fugitive King, hooked him, and now he says literature is his favorite subject.

According to John Scieszka (author of The Stinky Cheese Man and Fairly Stupid Tales) “A lot of boys aren’t too crazy about reading. . .Boys often have to read books they don’t really like. They don’t get to choose what they want to read.. .” Mr. Scieszka has a website devoted to guys reading with a list of books he recommends:

With so many different things vying for our attention these days—internet, movies and video games, to name a few—it’s never been more important to spread the love of reading. The circles I “travel” in are mostly filled with readers—but not all of them. I’m always encouraged when I hook a friend on reading, especially Christian fiction. But never more than when I see the love of reading ignite in a child’s eyes—starting that love affair early opens a whole new world filled with endless opportunities.






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3 Responses to The Fat Man That Never Came Back by Elizabeth Goddard

  1. Maureen Lang says:

    I read that setting an example of reading when our children can notice is the number one reason kids ever end up as book lovers. Still, I know what you mean about needing a little extra coaxing with boys. My youngest son started to love reading when a 4th grade teacher put a lot of emphasis on the love of books. She would choose books she loved, read some of it aloud to the class (enough to get them hooked) then assign reading homework. For a couple of the books that were made into movies, she arranged to do a Saturday “field trip” where she met the kids at a certain theater to watch the movie version as a class – but on her own time, reinforcing how much fun she thought the whole world of story telling can be, from books to the visualization of it. I’m grateful to this day for that extra push, because while my son might not be the avid read that my daughter and I are, he at least LIKES to read!


  2. My teen son is an advanced reader who doesn’t love it like I do, but he admitted there is a book right now for school that has him captivated. He seems to like history, especially Civil War era.


  3. jelowder says:

    Even as an adult, the book has to really grab me to keep me reading. Maybe I’ve just never grown up!


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