Ideas for turning kids into readers

12/10/2013 11:29 AM

08/08/2014 10:20 AM

A lot of cultivating a reader consists of sitting back and letting them show you which way they want to go. But these tips will help you know how to sit back and how to step up.

1. Don’t push your kids. “There’s pressure that they should be at a certain point, that it’s time for them to move into chapter books, and parents say no, you can’t go back to that picture book,” said Barbara Stripling, president of the American Library Association. Let them spend time with picture books if that’s what they want. They will get to the chapter books when it’s time, and they’ll do it because they want to.

2. Sick of reading the same book over and over? Don’t stop, Stripling said. Kids like to be the experts and predictors, to “know what’s coming,” she said. “There’s a reason this book is a favorite book to them. And they continue to enjoy it and it deepens their love of reading if you keep reading it.”

3. Don’t shun graphic novels or comics, advises Heidi Powell, manager of the children’s department at Washington’s Politics & Prose bookstore. The books offer various reading levels, help children understand story form and, of course, promote reading.

4. Children are never too old to be read to. A family reading night, or family book, will help encourage reading.

5. Let older kids follow the blogs of their favorite authors, suggested Christine Riggen, a former eighth-grade English teacher. “It’s another neat way to hook kids into reading,” she said. They can learn how the authors came up with characters, how the books came about and more.

6. Help children form book clubs, then let them choose themes related to their lives. Riggen was in a coffee shop one weekend trying to grade papers. Instead, she listened as a few dads facilitated a group of 7- to 11-year-olds in their book club. The kids had “such a great conversation” and voted at the end of the meeting for their next book.

7. If you feel unsure about how to help a child or teen pick out the right book for them, ask a school librarian or other plugged-in adult.

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