Do you remember that one book or book series that made you fall in love with reading? As a child, I loved discovering a new author (or even better, a whole new series) to spirit me away on a brand-new adventure. Today, I'm sharing some of my top tips for finding page-turners that will have your child begging you for “just 5 more minutes, please!”
The secret is to match a book that your child can read independently (at his current reading level) with a subject he's passionate about, whether it's a character or storyline that inspires him, or topic he can really relate to on a personal level. Start by thinking about what your child loves and his personality — does he have a wacky sense of humor? Is he adventurous? Does he see himself as a future sports superstar, astronaut, or architect? Once you've identified your child's interests, you can find suitable book suggestions by making sure to:
- Ask your child’s teacher or school librarian for recommendations. I’ve even been known to ask my daughter’s friends what they’re reading at the moment.
- Look at lists of award winners (and runner-ups) for recommendations.
- Browse the huge collection of themed book lists here on the Raise a Reader blog, like 5 Adventure Books for Your Tween or this list of Book Series to Get Kids Hooked on History.
- Provide lots of book choices and allow your child to make the final selection. Variety is essential to finding the "one," and according the Kids & Family Reading Report, 6th Edition, kids love to pick their own books.
- Include graphic novels in your suggestions, especially for young or less confident readers (though my avid reader loves them). Graphic novels can act as a bridge to more complex storylines for children who still benefit from the visual cues and (typically) simpler vocabulary of graphic novels.
- Use your local library as a resource for test driving books without a financial investment. If your child does fall in love with a book or series, you can then decide whether to buy him a copy or to keep borrowing.
- If a public library isn’t convenient for you, consider secondhand bookstores or look for e-book versions online.
Once your child does find a book he loves, keep the momentum going by searching for similar titles, buying or borrowing the next book in the series, or encouraging him to find out more about the author — researching the author and making a list of his or her other titles can be a great motivator.
If your child hasn’t found his page-turner yet don’t despair. Keep trying with a range of different titles and these simple ideas:
- Continue reading aloud to your child, even once he's comfortable reading to himself. By using the same formula for choosing books described above, you might just discover a book or series that your child loves so much that he will want to read ahead without you.
- Create an invitation to read: I borrow books from the library and leave them lying conveniently in my daughter's path as an invitation to read — on our breakfast bar for her to peruse while she eats breakfast, on her bed before bedtime, even on the seat of our car, since she often reads in the car.
- Read a title yourself that you think your child might like — the act of seeing you reading, combined with your feedback about the book might inspire your child to give it a go. You are, after all, his most important reading role model.
- Remember to give your child the space to read what he wants to read — instruction manuals, magazines, or comic books — it all counts and what matters more than anything is that he spends time reading.
I hope these tips help you and your child discover that a page-turning read will have him begging for more time with his nose in a book ... and falling in love with reading in general.
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