How to Get Your Child to Read Good Books

Just last week, I shared my children's favorite books in two summer reading lists. {You can read the girl's list here and the boy's list here.} On one, Meredith asked the following question:

Do you let your kids pick their own summer reading list? I have one that doesn't enjoy reading and will almost always pick comics to read. I have let him pick in the past, but didn't feel that went well. Any suggestions?

Her question inspired me to answer with this post. Technically, I answered her question with a shorter answer, but was inspired to write out several general ideas which appear below.

Do you ever feel like your child will only read one type of book?
or one series of books?

Personally, our children like the familiar. On their own, they tend to gravitate toward known authors or series. Needless to say, our children are not always adventurous with book selections. However, over the years, I have devised, and tried, several ways to expand their choices. Here are several techniques I employ at leisure:

1. Select a few interesting books and set them out in your home. Each library visit, I check out a number of books my children overlook. Typically, I choose classics or nonfiction books. Then, I set these in a basket. The children are free, but not pressured, to explore these titles on their own. {For our reluctant reader, I find books on audio.}

2. Read different authors, subjects, and genres as read alouds. A quick and easy way to introduce your child to a new author or book is with a read aloud. Don't have time to read aloud? Borrow an audio version of the book to listen to during lunch time.

3. Bring one book on vacation. Sometimes, on our family vacations space is tight and the children are limited on how many toys/books they can bring. One time they were only able to bring one book (we were traveling with a babe/toddler and had all the gear). My oldest son, who was around 8 or 9 at the time, decided to take the thickest book we had on the children's book shelf - Robinson Crusoe. He actually read it cover to cover as we traveled. It has been one of his favorite books since. {By the way, before that vacation, he would adamantly decline any and all opportunities to read it. He grudgingly took it on vacation because it was the only thick book he thought would last him all week.}

4. Use an abridged version book or comic book to generate interest in the characters and familiarity with the plot of classics. The classics are available in many abridged or picture book versions. There is even a comic form. {Classic Illustrated Graphic Novels is one series which is classics in comic version.} In our house, I used this very tactic to introduce my oldest son to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Once he read the shorter version, he proceeded onto the unabridged version. Now, when he reads Verne, he selects the unabridged versions first. {Incidentally, this is how my youngest stumbled onto Moby Dick.}

5. Find good books with great art work. For our boys, we searched and found N.C. Wyeth illustrated books like Treasure Island and Last of the Mohicans. For the record, we also took them to an art museum and used the exhibit on illustrated literature to heighten interest in reading the books. I realize not everyone has this option available, but the internet does offer a view of some illustrations. A link to the cover illustration of Last of the Mohican can be found here. Additionally, Howard Pyle wrote and illustrated a version of The Story of King Arthur and His Knights.

6. Ask other moms and children what they are reading. This helps me find more titles and, frankly, offers me an honest way to say "your friend, ----, really liked this book or author." Generally, my child will give the book a try solely because their friend recommended it.

7. Watch the movie first. I'll admit it, I think a book is better for telling a story. Movies have to condense and change major parts of a story to fit a certain time frame or visual depiction. Despite this, I am not above using a movie to strike interest in a book. That is exactly how our son got into the Sugar Creek Gang. Of course, for The Hobbit we used this idea in reverse by requiring our children to read the book before seeing the movie.

8. Expound on their interests. When our children express a particular interest, I search the library shelves for books related to that topic. When my daughter read Little House on the Prairie, I found some biographies on Laura Ingalls Wilder. For awhile, she read many books about Laura Ingalls Wilder, pioneer life, and the prairie.

How do you help inspire your children read good books?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Dorie. This is helpful. Using the graphic novels is a great idea!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...