My daughter is 8 years old and is reading constantly.

  • She wakes up and reads and I need to call her to breakfast 10 times (even though she herself devised a schedule for our morning routine)
  • she escapes from the breakfast (or lunch or dinner table) as fast as possible to get back to reading
  • if I don't check on her, she reads instead of getting ready for school
  • she comes home and wants to read
  • if she's upset (for the smallest of disagreements), she storms off and reads (she says she needs to calm down).

Even if her 5-year-old sister is around, she often prefers to sit on the sofa and read and let the little one mind her own business.

The other thing to call out is that it doesn't matter to her very much which book she is reading. She does get into a book deeply, but once it's done she immediately picks up the next. She has 10 open books scattered around the house and unless she is really stuck she'll just pick the closest one and starts reading.

This has always been like this to a degree, but I feel it's getting more pronounced.

For what it's worth, I'm erring on the side of more context in case this is useful:

a/ She's doing well at school, near the top of the class across all subjects and the teachers speak very highly of her and haven't flagged any concerns (though they have 30 children and as long as she "performs" well, they might not notice?)

We do send her to extracurricular activities (maybe too many of them). For example, she fought for us to buy her violin lessons, but she never practices on her own. She would rather read.

b/ I also see a lot of myself in her. I've never been diagnosed with anything, but like her I was good in school, am reasonably creative, am constantly fiddling with something, frequently touch my face, used to suck my thumb for a long time, find it hard to listen sometimes, can be self-absorbed (i.e., my needs first), need constant entertainment (phone, laptop, and iPad), find it hard to fall asleep and don't usually enjoy just being with my own thoughts.

My worry is that she uses books to escape from something, as if her thoughts or emotions are threatening to overwhelm her so she needs to distract herself.

And if that's the case I'm not sure whether this should be a concern or whether I should be grateful that she has a coping mechanism when things get out of hand for her.

Should I seek professional help?

What is a reasonable threshold here? I'm concerned for her longer-term mental health and resilience, but I would not in any way want to reinforce any feelings of being different or not belonging to this family. I'm also worried she could lose trust in us having her best interests at heart.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Feb 10, 2022 at 23:26

10 Answers 10


Disagreeing with commenters and the highest voted answer, I believe you are correct to wonder about what is driving your daughter to read so voraciously. I also want to commend you for your honesty in your self-appraisal.

From the comments, it seems that (probably) lots of people were/are voracious readers "who turned out just fine". The problem is, there are a lot of people with problems who think they are fine when they aren't. I'm not being judgemental or unkind; it's just that I've worked with too many people with mental health issues to believe that everyone who thinks they are "just fine" really are. Ask their partners for a more accurate assessment! (<-- That was meant in jest. Kind of. :D)

I have had additional training in mental illness, alcoholism and drug addiction, ran a free mental health and addiction clinic for a few years, and have extensive experience with mental illness, so maybe am more aware of problems than many. Also, consider Maslow's hammer, popularly phrased as "if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail". But a hammer isn't all I have.

There is a correlation (not claiming it's causative) between intelligence and reading, so it's not at all surprising that your daughter does very well in school. Questions arise about how well she's doing in other aspects of development, for example prosocial skills such as empathy (defined as "voluntary behavior intended to benefit another"), altruism (sharing/giving/generosity), and cognitive skills (e.g. creativity, problem solving, conflict resolution, etc.), communicative skills that are predictive of future peer relationships. You have told us a lot about your daughter's desire to read, but information is lacking in other areas. But there is enough to arouse some concern. (Of course, you'll list concerns. That's why you posted. But there is so much more...) The three that stopped me in my tracks were:

she escapes from the breakfast (or lunch or dinner table) as fast as possible to get back to reading

if she's upset (for the smallest of disagreements), she storms off and reads (she says she needs to calm down).

This has always been like this to a degree, but I feel it's getting more pronounced.

So, she prefers reading to discussions with the family, and problem solving skills are limited. To me, if these behaviors are habitual, they signal a problem. And it's getting worse.

How does she get along with other kids at school? Is she kind? (It sounds like she might be brusk with her little sister, but you didn't say.) Does she get along with the others? Does she play at recess or sit with others on lunch break, or does she read? What do the teachers say about her social skills (as opposed to academic)? These are important questions to which we have no answers.

My worry is that she uses books to escape from something, as if her thoughts or emotions are threatening to overwhelm her so she needs to distract herself. And if that's the case I'm not sure whether this should be a concern or whether I should be grateful that she has a coping mechanism when things get out of hand for her.

It's not an either/or situation. She may simply prefer books to people, finding books less complicated, therefore less work. Maybe this is just another way to phrase your concern, but one may indicate a very introverted person, the other someone without a prosocial bent. There are other possibilities as well.

Should I seek professional help? What is a reasonable threshold here? I'm concerned for her longer-term mental health and resilience but I would not in any way want to reinforce any feelings of being different or not belonging to this family. I'm also worried she could lose trust in us having her best interests at heart.

Resilience can be taught; read about how to teach resilience. As to being different, we are all individuals. If you place no specific value on being like everybody else, being her own self with her own strengths and difficulties should not be a problem. And as far as trust, that's built up over days, months, and years, not single events.

I believe your concerns are valid. The first step might be to talk to her pediatrician about your concerns, including the social aspects I mentioned and any others of concern.

Brief report: Patterns of prosocial behaviors in middle childhood predicting peer relations during early adolescence, Early socioemotional competence, psychopathology, and latent class profiles of reparative prosocial behaviors from preschool through early adolescence, and many others.

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    I think you're making a leap here from reading all the time might not be the best for a child to reading all the time means there's something wrong with a child. You don't wonder what's wrong with an 8 year old because they prefer to eat candy vs. brussels sprouts. The reason why children are children is that they don't have the maturity yet to recognize the importance of the sprouts and self-regulate their behavior to eat less candy. (And honestly, hanging out with people who are not your age and you don't have much in common with is boring, even if you happen to be related to them.) Commented Feb 4, 2022 at 18:00
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    If I, too, came across as considering myself as "having come out just fine": I suffer from depressions, which I believe qualifies as a "mental health issue" in the English-speaking world. But that's as an adult. As an 3-12 year old, you're allowed a bit of an obsession without there being anything wrong with you necessarily.
    – Sixtyfive
    Commented Feb 4, 2022 at 18:51
  • Thanks @anongoodnurse! Which problem do you have in mind based on the 3 call-outs you reference? She can be brusk and sometimes aggressive but also very kind with little sister (she brings her to bed, writes her stories or letters or prepares drawings, defends her in arguments with us parents). She doesn't find it very easy to maintain friendships and has lost her best friend as a result of being overprotective of her and not wanting her to play with other children. We've asked every school teacher since Reception about her social skills and nobody voiced concerns.
    – Sabestina
    Commented Feb 16, 2022 at 20:49
  • @Sabestina - I'm sorry I didn't get to this sooner. Your comment above is both encouraging and concerning. She sounds age-appropriate with her sister, and sounds kind, which makes a lack of empathy much lower on the list, which was my biggest concern. Being that possessive of friends and that she has trouble keeping them is a bit worrisome and worth investigating; that doesn't bode well for pro-social skills, so I'm puzzled about what the teachers say, but they see her all day, so... I can't diagnose on the internet. I would discuss with her doctor. Commented Feb 21, 2022 at 7:11

Hmm, apparently my eight year old has a twin sister nobody told me about! Basically everything up there would word for word work to describe him.

This is totally normal at this age. It's hard to balance needs at eight, and when reading is the activity that is the most fun, why not do it all the time? And as a parent it's hard to argue to some extent... reading improves vocabulary and helps teach a child about other life experiences.

However, everything needs to have its limits. In this case, it's a problem when it interferes with normal life activities: getting ready for school, eating breakfast, getting enough nutrition. If that's the case, then it needs limits just like screen time would. Make sure she understands the rules about the morning routine, and if needed define "acceptable reading" time - or do what we do, which is that no reading/screen time is allowed until all of the "getting ready" is done, and then after that it's allowed until a set time. (For us, leaving for school is 8:05; once the kids are up, they have to have their morning chore done, lunch made, clothes on, shoes and backpack by the door; once that's done they can read/play until 7:30, at which point they stop, eat breakfast, and then at 7:55 get ready to go.).

If she's in too many activities, it's also possible she's over-socialized. My eight year old is somewhat of an introvert/extrovert hybrid; he likes playing with friends and needs that socialization to feel happy, but also needs time alone to recharge. Reading is a great way to do that - it is 100% your own time.

As far as escapism - while nobody on this site can diagnose your daughter with anything positively or negatively, there's nothing wrong with reading for fun or to escape reality to some extent. I wouldn't use that as the reason to seek professional help. You need to look at the sum of her life as a whole - does she socialize with others normally? Is she able to make and keep friendships? What does her teacher think of things - ask this question specifically, don't wait for something flagged; ask what she does at recess and if she plays with other kids.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Feb 20, 2022 at 17:42

As others have said (more eloquently than I would have done), many of us here were equally avid readers at a similar age.

What I would add is that "Even if her 5yo sister is around, she often prefers to sit on the sofa and read and let the little one mind her own business" is far from grounds for concern in its own right. Three years is a huge age difference at that age and in fact the 8-year old may be escaping from the boring trivial boring and trivial younger sibling (my brother is 2 years younger than me and I knew the feeling well). That's not to say there's anything to worry about in their relationship, just that they don't have much common ground, and the younger is unlikely to join in with the reading - peace and quiet for the older. I see a similar attitude among those of my daughter's friends (same age as yours) with younger siblings.

The one caution I'll mention from my own experience decades ago, is that being bookish, intelligent, and well-behaved in school doesn't necessarily go down well with all the other children. It might be worth trying to gently find out if there are children who are being mean, even bullying, that she likes to hide from in her own little world. An increase in escapism (if that's what all this reading is) could indicate a minor falling out with a friend, which can feel pretty devastating at that age.

  • My reading does mention the attraction this kind of person has to bullies. Interestingly, it also calls attention that this kind of child may bully others, if not now, then in the near future (middle school). It's not uncommon, though, to be both bullied and bully. Commented Feb 4, 2022 at 14:12
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    @anongoodnurse certainly that correlation holds in what I've read, though not too strongly. I reckon, at least if school is any good, there's more need to look out for a little occasional meanness than consistent bullying - but I've got a small point to add. I also suspect that there's a cycle of reinforcement - quiet kid gets picked on, withdraws a bit more etc..
    – Chris H
    Commented Feb 4, 2022 at 14:15
  • 1
    Thanks @ChrisH, she did have a major falling out with her then best friend a while back and her mum described my daughters behaviour in bullying terms even if the teachers didn't pick that up directly. My daughter sometimes likes to show off her intelligence and perceived superiority ("you don't know how to solve that?"), though my impression is that this got better now that there are other kids in class that are better according to some academic dimension. I'm not aware of her being bullied, but other children do withdraw from her and it's not been easy to keep friends.
    – Sabestina
    Commented Feb 16, 2022 at 21:06

Congratulations! Both you and your child probably have mild ADHD.

Let's have a quick run through of some of your complaints:

  • Need to constantly be doing something / fiddling
  • Need for constant entertainment
  • Dislike 'not really having anything to do' i.e.being with your own thoughts
  • Find it hard to listen to others
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Catastrophizing (immediately going through several steps before getting to a bad / worst-outcome scenario, probably something that happens when you're left to your own thoughts as you say)

A couple of other guesses that might apply:

  • Creative (others don't usually come up with the things you do)
  • Impulsive - want it now, 4 day shipping? Forget it!
  • Strong emotional responses to stimuli - not illogical responses, but perhaps unreasonable in their intensity or passion
  • Often changing between lots of tasks / hobbies / activities

You have an 8 year old. She likes to read.

You are worried that she has somehow experienced trauma or has some other need to 'escape' from the world? How many 8 year olds do you know that have had such strongly negative experiences that they show this level of escapism?

She probably just enjoys reading because it is interesting and she finds it intellectually stimulating.

Taking a closer look at her:

  • Gets upset and storms off to calm down (sudden overwhelming emotions, but grown-up enough to know that outbursts of anger are not appreciated).
  • Calling her to breakfast 10x times even though it was her plan - probably too engrossed in reading
  • Often changes quickly between tasks / books (will read 1x of the 10x open books if it is closest)

You mention a fear that she is escaping from overwhelming thoughts / emotions; is that something you yourself also experience?

The problem with a combination of intelligence + adhd is that teachers... often don't notice nor even care about the child that is often quiet / distracted but doing well in school - until it becomes a problem with academic performance or disrupting others.

You have also largely described my own childhood, everything was great, very creative, loved to read / do / distract, great perfomance in school (up until 6th form), always rushing to leave the dinner table and get back to whatever I was doing. Ended up dropping out of uni (it was too boring) and then working. Diagnosed as an adult (at 28).

Turns out life doesn't have to be so hard, being so bored listening to people in meetings / for extended periods of time that you have to struggle not to fall asleep isn't normal. Long-term goals are significantly easier to work towards incrementally than they feel, and inner-restlessness when not doing something doesn't have to always be the case.

If any of the above sounds relateable, I would highly recommend at least looking into it. It already sounds like your daughter will do well but if any of the above is applicable then she will be able to go significantly further when properly treated (as will you), as opposed to using her intelligence to mask her difficulties.

p.s. did I mention I was looking up something for work and felt the need to reactivate an old account just to respond?

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    I'm not overly keen on diagnosing someone over the internet, but you have made some interesting and valid points, and haven't just said, "It's fine." +1 Commented Feb 4, 2022 at 14:08
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    The nice thing about ADHD is that it's not a binary thing. It's a wide and colourful spectrum along both the dimensions of amount as well as shape. Even if this over-the-internet pseudo-diagnosis by a non-psychiatrist (no offense intended!) should stand up to a professional assessment of the required criteria (careful: they differ from children to adults), ask yourself: does putting a label on it hurt or help things? Only if you feel it might help things would I go and seek such a possible diagnosis.
    – Sixtyfive
    Commented Feb 4, 2022 at 19:00
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    With respect, this kind of armchair diagnosis can harm someone badly. We are looking at an 8-year old doing something very normal, natural (and frankly better than the all-common screen obsession) and an internet stranger calls it ADHD. Author does not seem to be a practicing MD but uses his own experience (I have ADHD so you must have it too)
    – Sam
    Commented Feb 5, 2022 at 15:46
  • 2
    With all due respect, anyone purporting to be an MD and diagnosing people on the internet isn't someone you should be listening to nor someone who should be practising medicine. If it wasn't clear from the semi-sarcastic tone of my opening then I apologise; but reducing the entire post to 'I have ADHD so you must have it too' is a massively reductionist strawman of my argument. Most of my post focuses on the self-reported issues that OOP is having, and how much they see of themselves in their child. How exactly does my example + this suggestion to seek further help harm someone?
    – nom
    Commented Feb 7, 2022 at 8:46
  • @nom, thank you very much for reactivating your account to provide your perspective here. Your other guesses describe me and my daughter perfectly! Can I ask - for my own benefit - how ADHD diagnosis has helped you in adulthood? And for my daughter, are you aware of games or questionnaires that will provide more clues? I think my daughter would be up for doing assessments - she's curious and will want to dig into what the outcomes might mean.
    – Sabestina
    Commented Feb 16, 2022 at 21:11

Questions to ask yourself

  1. Is reading inherently a bad thing to do? Heck no. It's great. Of all the obsessive behavior kids have at this age, this is one of the best!!
  2. Is she missing out on something else that she should be doing? Apparently school is fine and there seem to be plenty of extracurricular activities. Things to look out for are social interactions and "free and unstructured play time". The latter is fairly culture dependent. In Germany it's not unusual to have an 8 year old romping through town on their own (within reason), the US is way more restrictive this way.
  3. Are their any other signs that something is off or is she otherwise a happy camper?. Something to look out for.
  4. What triggers your own worry? Is there something subconscious that make you worry. Experience you had yourself or specific events that you have observed but can't talk about here.

Should I seek professional help?

It doesn't harm. Even if things are perfectly normal (which they likely are), it can help to take care of your concerns. You can start with her pediatrician during your next check-up visit or given them a call.

  • Thanks @Hilmar, there aren't any regular paediatrician visits here in the UK. We did speak to the GP (=Hausarzt) and they gave us a bunch of questionnaires and information on referral to mental health support services if were so inclined to pursue. My dad told me that my parents were similarly worried about my behaviours at her age (but didn't end up pursuing it further). However, my sister in law was also similar and she is really really struggling now in adulthood. That could be my trigger here, though there are many deviations in her upbringing so may not be comparable.
    – Sabestina
    Commented Feb 16, 2022 at 21:17

This is mostly to Mum, who had an answer of her own here for just a minute, and then it was gone again. I'm speaking as the godfather to an 8 year old, whose parents have two more kids and are, as a result of that I believe, pretty relaxed (in a good way) in general. I've made the experience that whenever I'm babysitting my godson and he behaves in some way that I find strange and then afterwards I talk about it with mom and/or dad, they usually smile at me a little bit and then give a story about another kid at school for comparison, making me understand that these kinds of obessive or "extreme" behaviors are apparently quite normal at that age, at least for very intelligent children. This is not to sound arrogant, but to me kids like your daughter, Joe's son, or my godson, for that matter (being able to read on their own without end, getting remarkably good grades in subjects they enjoy, becoming the authors of very creative and elaborate stories, etc.) come under "very intelligent".

From my own childhood (also a constant reader ... by the age of 12, when other kids came home late from having been out and about with friends, in my case all you needed to do as a parent was call the local library and the librarian would go and find me in the Paleontology section or wherever) I know how many problems this can cause specifically in the areas of finding friendships and getting invited back. The good news is that sooner or later, she'll meet someone she feels is like her (see again Joe's son!) and they'll make BFFs faster than you can open a browser and start looking for professional help :-).

Having said that, "professional help" for kids is not the same as for adults. If it's not presented as having something to do with her being wrong or different or in need of help, but as another extracurricular activity ("socializing class"?) and that gets her interest, she might end up enjoying such sessions, as they can involve doing such things as talking while playing legos or tabletennis. Or in her case, a smart counselor might get the idea to intersperse discussions of books with conversation about other kids and school life.

  • Since you have enough rep to comment, there shouldn't be any problem to post a comment on anyone's post... except this answer is too long as a comment. Even if a mod converts this as a comment, it will be cut after 600 characters.
    – Andrew T.
    Commented Feb 4, 2022 at 12:37
  • I wrote that request when the text was still a good bit shorter. And meanwhile it got one upvote, so perhaps it's fine as it is. Thanks for letting me know about the rep-thing superceding the new-contributor-thing, I didn't know about that.
    – Sixtyfive
    Commented Feb 4, 2022 at 13:00
  • @AndrewT. It'll be cut at 500 characters. For one-or-two paragraph answers, sometimes mods will repeatedly convert to comment, then manually edit the next parts of the answer into subsequent comments, but even I wouldn't do that for something this long.
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Feb 6, 2022 at 17:32
  • Thanks @Sixtyfive, do you have more details about "socialising class"? I've not heard of that here in the UK.
    – Sabestina
    Commented Feb 16, 2022 at 21:19
  • Apologies for creating a misunderstanding, @Sabestina ... I had put the words in quotation marks to show that it was a made-up term to describe how those professional-help-appointments could be seen. Backstory: I was seen as difficult and of subpar intelligence in school around that age, so my dad sent me to an intelligence test for kids at University, which showed the opposite: troubled and above-average intelligence. Then he found me a children's therapist who had conversations with me about (the lack of) social interaction while playing board games - which, in hindsight, did help greatly.
    – Sixtyfive
    Commented Feb 17, 2022 at 9:08

Some thoughts.

  1. In my opinion, if you are concerned or curious enough to write these observations up for us, then you have license to be concerned/curious. Period.

  2. You might enjoy reading something about sensory processing, e.g. Living Sensationally by Winnie Dunn is a non-academic book on the topic. Here's a small preview: some people notice things in their environment more or less than others, some need to fiddle more or less than others. Here's a diagram:

Winnie Dunn sensory schematic

What I like about Dunn's approach is that she doesn't blame anyone for how they are, but she does encourage people to be aware of how they are, and then figure out how to live with it. For example, her ideas helped me figure out how I, a sensory avoider, could live comfortably with my extreme sensory seeking child. (Short answer -- I had to desensitize myself somewhat, and work out some practical things with my kid, e.g. headphones for him.)

If you want to formalize things, you could ask the school to do a Pearson Sensory Profile (make sure they use the one normed for your child's age range -- schools can be sloppy about this).

(Note, there is another approach to formally describing an individual's sensory profile, but it can be challenging to find an occupational therapist who knows how to do it. Therefore the Pearson instrument (developed by Dunn) can be a more accessible approach. Also note, if you ask the school to do it, please make sure they don't use it as an excuse to imply there's something wrong with your child.)

  1. You may wish to make a simple evaluation for your own person records, approximately once a year, where you list behaviors of your daughter's that get in her way (directly, by making objective problems for herself, or indirectly, by making the people around her inconvenienced or annoyed). It can be interesting to compare over time. You can list the behaviors, and you can rank them according to how impairing they are. Also if the impairment gets pretty high at some point, you could try some short-term therapy.

  2. One of my kids would stay up half the night reading after our weekly visit to the library. So we would leave him access to one or two books out of his library knapsack and put the whole knapsack in the car overnight. Generally by the next evening his new book fever had calmed down enough that we could progress to the knapsack spending one night in the parent bedroom. This is just an example of a coping mechanism. Every child is different.

Another coping mechanism might be, "If you can get ready for school on time while listening to an audio book with a small mp3 player, fine." Otherwise you might need to remove access to books during periods when things need to get done. (I absolutely use audiobooks and podcasts to help me get through housework and physical therapy -- why not?)

  1. When a child seems a bit off-kilter or skewed in their interests, sometimes it helps to have a secret parent plan for helping the child find balance and enjoyment with slightly more variety of activities, sometimes with a parent, sometimes with a peer, sometimes alone. You are allowed to be tricky, e.g. find a book discussion group at the library for the appropriate age range.

(If you want to try a different approach to music, you could look for a good Suzuki teacher, who would train a parent to be a home practice coach, or create a tape recording that walks the child through the home practice routine.

By the way, if one digs a bit, it is often possible to find a math enrichment group, sometimes run by a mathematician parent who feels bad for their kid who is bored in math at school. Or you could start one and recruit some volunteers to help out. You could try calling the math department at a local college -- sometimes that's a way to find an existing group.

  1. For falling asleep, it can be helpful, for adults or children, to listen to something mildly interesting and not distressing, with a timer, e.g. a book you've already read.
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    If someone can help me fix the formatting I'd be so grateful. I can't seem to indent the non-numbered paragraphs. Commented Feb 5, 2022 at 20:54
  • Thanks @aparente001, I will look up Dunn's work. My wife has read "Raising a Sensory Smart Child" by Lindsey Biel and recognises similarities here but I haven't looked at that yet. I like the idea of regular personal evaluations as a way of checking whether there are trends that might require a closer look / more focused attention (for myself and my daughter). You mention math groups - how are you thinking of math groups in this context? My daughter used to do (and love) BeastAcademy classes though she has now decided to stop them for a bit - curious to hear your thoughts.
    – Sabestina
    Commented Feb 16, 2022 at 21:26

Based on my own childhood, I would say your daughter is probably using books as a way to escape from something unpleasant. I grew up in a toxic household - narcissistic mother and a narcissistic, violent father. Books were a way for me to escape that atmosphere. I do not have ADHD or other developmental disability. So developmental disabilities are not the only reason for children turning to reading all the time and immediately seeking professional help may not be the best solution.

If the situation in your home is toxic or there is kind of tension among the adults living in your house that may be what your daughter is trying to escape using books. Kids are sensitive to such tension even if the adults try to hide it from them. In that case, clearing the toxicity or tension is the best solution.

If there is no toxic atmosphere or tension at home, check if there are some problems at school. Is your daughter being bullied at school? Good grades alone are not an indication that everything is fine at school or at home.

Before seeking professional help I would suggest the following:

Try to involve your daughter in regular and frequent family activities such as perhaps going for a walk together regularly, bicycling, playing outdoor games, board games etc. (depending on the pandemic situation where you live) and see if this diversion from reading is something she enjoys.

Does your daughter play with other children at school or in the neighborhood (again depending on the pandemic situation)? If not, try to find out from here why.

After the pandemic situation improves and become safe, see if she enjoys playing sports (but do not force her). In that case that will be an alternative way for her to handle stresses and also to meet other kids.

In any case, do not force your daughter to change her behavior to what you or other adults may consider to be the normal way for a child to be, but do provide opportunities for her, do listen to her, do spend more time with both of your children and do change those things and situations that are toxic or harmful to them. In other words, be a kind, benign and protective presence in their lives but not a controlling (except to ensure their welfare) or dominating one.

  • Thanks for your perspective @Nick. While there are sometimes tensions between my wife and I and maybe even arguments, I'm not sure I would describe this as "toxic". We make a point to apologise at family meetings or over a meal when we think we've done something wrong and we invest a lot in reconnecting after a fall-out. We also do not engage in physical punishments. I think your call-out re sports is good. She does gymnastics but I've been curious for a while about whether a team sport could help expose her to new/different social situations.
    – Sabestina
    Commented Feb 16, 2022 at 21:30

There have been done some research on information addiction (https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325588#Information-overload-is-just-like-junk-food)

I dont know if that is the case with your dougher, but be carefull.

We do like to belive reading is the best we can do, but im not sure thats allways true. To illustrate an example. My wife has all the top grades from school and she reads all the time, so much that she cant contribute with anything at home, cannot take care of the kids and cant go to work. The first thing she does when she get up is to read, and then do it the whole day, untill bed time, and even then reading until she fall a sleep. With all this reading, we might think its very usefull, but she is not able to transfer the "reading knowledge" into real world usage.

So be carefull with your dougher and make sure she is not just trapped inside a fictive reality and feeding her addiction.


My son was exactly like this when he was eight. I had the same concerns as you did.

We did a WISK test that has shown a strong precocity (he was averaging results of 16 yo children). I was terrified having taught at the university one talented 14 years old who was socially miserable.

His reading was just curiosity.

He is now 17, very much happy with his life (and great plans for the future) and I still see him sometimes tidying up his room, reaching for a book to move, and an hour later sitting on his bed and reading it.

I think that you should seek out professional help (as we did), to make sure she is OK. Otherwise prepare for a life of never-ending discussions that get more and more complicated (and fascinating) as she grows up.

  • Thanks for mentioning the WISK test. I had never heard of that. I'll take a look and maybe do that with her - I think she would find the test interesting. However, I don't think she is particularly gifted. Did the test results give you a better sense for areas of strength or weakness? How did you incorporate your learnings into your sons upbringing?
    – Sabestina
    Commented Feb 16, 2022 at 21:34
  • @Sabestina This is a good question. I do not think that my son is "gifted" either. He is very good in high school but was "only" good in middle school. He was not an extraordinary pupil. As a comparison, I was much, much better than he was but never had any obsessive habits (such as reading continuously, etc.); I was interested in everything.
    – WoJ
    Commented Feb 17, 2022 at 11:17
  • I think that in order for his curiosity to turn into something, he needed the mental maturity of high school. He is among the top 5% of the class but he is not brilliant (he does not participate in the olympiads for instance). As for what the WISK test did for education: nothing. When he saw the results, I think that he had an internal relief that there is a reason for him being as he is, and this broke in his mind a barrier. he started to behave like a "normal" child, including all the stupid things (to my relief) - they were quite creative, though :)
    – WoJ
    Commented Feb 17, 2022 at 11:17
  • We really did not do anything special after that and the doctors also said that we should not. Specifically, I refused to have him skip school years because the social maturity is IMHO more important than school results. So to answer your question: we did not change the way he was brought up/educated, just felt more relaxed after the test (and he was as well).
    – WoJ
    Commented Feb 17, 2022 at 11:17
  • thank you very much for all this extra context and the openness and honesty! I must say that I'm very positively surprised by the openness and support people are willing to provide on this site.
    – Sabestina
    Commented Feb 18, 2022 at 22:52

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