My eleven year old (+ 342 days) is a voracious reader. He takes a book with him in the car to run to the store that’s only a few miles away. He reads novels, comics, graphic novels, magazines, even the cereal box. He has even started raiding my bookshelves for some more horror novels. (The kid has always had a taste for the macabre).
He hasn’t always been such an avid reader. Sure, he’s always liked books and would read, but it was never regular. He used to read books below his reading level because the thickness of a novel seemed to overwhelm him. That all changed two years ago, thanks to a boy named Percy Jackson. After I tried to get him to read The Lightning Thief a couple of times, a teacher introduced it to him and there was no looking back. He is a fan of all kinds of Mythology and he also found out that Percy had ADHD, just like him. He ate it up and barely spoke to us for weeks while he had his nose in the series, reading every book. That led to another series, and another, and another. This past summer my son read nine books, most of them being 300-400+ page novels.
How did this casual reader turn into a kid who makes bi-weekly trips to the library and always has several books going at the same time?
- First and foremost, and I’m sure this probably goes without saying, you should have books in your home. I feel that seeing books in the home instills positive thoughts about books so that it doesn’t seem like such a chore to read.
- I stopped trying to get him to read what I thought that he should read.
- I got over myself and realized that graphic novels are still books and at least he’s reading. It ended up planting the seed to read the 400+ page novels that he eats up now.
- I extended his bedtime by a half hour, but that extra half hour was to get into bed, wind down and read. This could be whatever he wanted. A book, a magazine, a comic, whatever.
- I joined paperbackswap.com and let him choose books that interested him. Minimal financial investment with a potentially big reward. (you pay to ship books to others, but you don’t pay to have books shipped to you). Of course, I also benefit from PBS
- I got him a library card of his own. He loves having it and using it. It gives him a sense of importance and pride to have his own card that he can use.
Even if your child isn’t into reading chapter books and novels, maybe they would be interested in an Almanac, biographies, sports books, or Ripley’s Believe It or Not (and the like). At least they’re reading and thinking and in time it may lead to chapter books and novels.