I have, in the course of my reading as a Cybils judge, discovered an easy way to tell when a book isn't working for my daughter. We read it once (she'll listen to almost anything once), and then a couple of days later I again place it in the stack of potential bedtime books. (I generally create the stack, and she chooses what gets read, though if my selections are particularly poor she will get out bed and go look for something else.)
If she looks at the book and says: "I already read that one," I know that the book did not impress. Because the books that she LIKES? Those we can read over and over (and over) again. (We read a set of 11 Fly Guy books 3 times each over two days this weekend.) "I already read that one" is a dead giveaway. This is not to say that the "I already read that one" titles are bad books. But they certainly aren't books that hold appeal for my particular 4.5 year old daughter.
The important point here, I think, is that as parents, we should be listening to how our kids respond to books. I personally never try to get my daughter to give a book another try (well, not without waiting a few months, anyway). If she doesn't like it, we move on. There are plenty of other books in the world. Plenty of other books within arm's reach at almost any given time, to be honest.
Sharon Levin had a good post today at her blog, Life, Literature, Laughter, on How To Get Your Child to STOP/HATE Reading. She points to parents who stop their children from reading the books that they love (e.g. graphic novels, because they aren't "real" books, etc. You all know the drill). Sharon talks about giving kids the power to choose what they read, and this I strongly agree with.
Katherine Sokolowski also had a lovely post today about her belief that every child can learn to love books, but how kids who are raised by parents who love books have an advantage. But she also talks about nurturing those readers through times when life (or the love of video games) intervenes, and they need a little help to keep" this connection (with books) afloat".
Me, I do worry about some future day when my daughter is too busy or too jaded or too grown up to want me to read to her. But for now, what I can do is hear her subtext when she says "I already read that", and find her something more appealing. It's all about keeping reading fun.