Open a cover

of a book and you open a new world to explore.

But kids often go through phases where finding the first (or second or third…) book is tough.  For one reason or another, they aren’t comfortable just jumping into a new book…

and that’s often hard on the parent – because we all want to see our kids comfortable reading.

Now, I’ve seen bunches of kids go through the phase (and yep, both of mine did) and often the best thing is to just back off and let them develop out of it.  (and no, it’s not easy)

When both of my kids hit the phase, the one thing they kept reading freely was comics – both American comics and Japanese Manga – and you know what?  Even if it may not be what you would like to see, it’s reading!

In fact, while my kids went through it (well, the amount of comics and manga in this house may lead you to believe they aren’t completely through it) the compromise we worked out was that I had a list of “age appropriate” reading that they needed to choose from and read something regularly.  Beyond the list, they were free to read whatever they wanted.

And slowly (with Girl) or seemly overnight  (with Boy) they left the massive focus on comics (used loosely to cover both) and started reading “other” things on their own.

Now when people come to me to fuss about the lack of desire to read, I have a few suggestions for them:

1.  Don’t discount anything they want to read – It may not be what you want them to read, but if they are reading for pleasure, then they are getting something out of it for themselves.  Their tastes will expand as they start hitting the limits of whatever they are currently reading.

2.  Along the same lines, don’t regulate what they can check out from the library.  Yeah, sure – there may be a section that is better suited to them, but letting them control the process will make them comfortable when they realize what they really want.

3. Never discount the value of a good read-aloud.  Though it’s hard to believe now.  I couldn’t get Boy interested in Harry Potter one bit.  So I made it an evening read-aloud…after 3 days, the book disappeared into his bedroom.

4. Don’t bias them about anything they might decide they want to read.  I’d much rather have a child feel like they can bring any book to me and discuss what they’ve found between it’s covers than have them feel that they need to hide the book.

5. Pay attention to what they are reading.  Why, because it’s always nice to have someone who expresses an interest in what you are reading (and I don’t mean by asking them to give you a formal book report each time) and lets you talk about what you found interesting.  But the other reason to pay attention, is it gives you a chance to find other things that also might appeal to them.

And to help you make those kinds of connections, James Patterson (who I’m not real keen on as a writer) has a website dedicated to getting kids reading.

The website covers a wide range of children’s ages and many different genre.  Then within each genre/age range Patterson has hand-selected a few books and written up a review of each to give you some guidance.

But the aspect that I really appreciate, is that he has also included a list of similar titles for each of the books.  So, say you have a child who loved The Lightning Thief, well he’s now given you a list of nearly 20 books that are similar.  So, you can go down the list and find a couple more for your child.

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3 Responses to Open a cover

  1. Frankie says:

    Yup. I never did understand the parents who wouldn’t allow their child to pick their own reading materials. I mean, afterall, what’s more appealing to a young lad: Super Diaper Baby (or whatever it is) or a good classic? My son wanted to read what so many homeschoolers call Twaddle. I let him. However, he had to read my picks, too.

    I personally never enjoyed reading while in school. It wasn’t until I was finished with school, out in the real world when I could buy what piqued my interests that my reading really took off. It’s the same wth kids. Yes, they need to read good-quality books, but the need to have some fun, too.

  2. For a while I was struggling internally about the fact that Padawan Learner only seemed interested in reading Calvin & Hobbes or the Eragon series… over and over. I limit myself to making recommendations now, and that seems to have helped.

  3. Teresa says:

    I’ve never had that problem with ds#1 (although I did do the same thing as you to convince him to read Harry Potter…it’s because he’s an obstinate child…LOL). He’s never seen without about 10+ books in mid-read. He even reads things like Scientific American for fun.

    I’ve also never had this problem with ds#2 because, unlike ds#1, he just doesn’t read on his own for pleasure. He happily reads anything he’s assigned, but no more. I wonder if it has something to do with his autism.

    Thanks for the Patterson site link…give ds#1 some ideas for future reads. :)

    We love comic books in this house; both dh and I read them in our youth. Ds#1 refuses to get into Manga because (read my statement above about his being obstinate) he doesn’t like to do anything that’s “in” or “popular”.