If you love reading you know what it feels like to not have a good book within reach. Book Lovers might even have a couple they’re reading at one time or a stack waiting nearby. Readers love to read because books take us into the Reading Zone. We lose track of time, a movie plays behind our eyelids, and we’re transported off and away.
But what if you’re a new reader, a struggling reader, or someone who has only read a couple of books you’ve enjoyed?
If we want to grow life-long readers, we may have to help them find just right books. Encourage these strategies to help your reader get into the reading zone.
1. Survey your Reader– What does your child love right now? What movies or shows do they like to watch? What do they play with? Pretend? Where have you traveled or where will you be going? What are they struggling with? What change has come their way? Our interests, play, and the way we spend our time can offer all sorts of topics and genres.
2. Explore– Books have all sorts of clues to help readers find out if they’ll be a good fit. Read the summary, the flaps, the first page or two. Flip through the pictures. Look to see if anything resonates or sparks interest.
3. Ask Around– Who do you know who loves to read? Ask friends, family, the librarian, mentors. Join Goodreads or read reviews. Look towards favorite authors, movies your child loves, cartoon characters, books in a series are great places to start. If your reader is into superheroes, comic books might be a good genre. If they love crime fighters, maybe mystery. Don’t forget about non-fiction. Dinosaur lovers, bug finders, fort builders have plenty to choose from too.
4. Let the Reader Decide! The most important way you can help your reader find a just right book is to allow them to do the choosing. Even if it seems below their grade or reading level, even if it’s always in the same genre, even if it’s the same book over and over again, let them choose. It doesn’t matter what is read, readers are people who read.
We must also give time. Finding a just right book might take a while. Just like adults experience, sometimes a book looks like it will be a good fit and just isn’t. Early readers and struggling readers need time to find a book that is a good fit. There is no quicker way to stifle a reader than to make a child finish a book they don’t like.
To help foster a love of reading and help our children see the value being a reader can hold, we encourage reading by reading with them, to them, and letting them see us read. We encourage reading by listening to audio books (we love them in the car and at night), talking about what we’re reading, asking them about what they are reading, and by making sure there are plenty of different types of things to read around the house.
We encourage reading by listening to audio books (our family loves them in the car and at night), by talking about what we’re reading, asking them about what they are reading, and by making sure there are plenty of different types of things to read around the house.
Reading for joy and information opens up worlds for our children, here and beyond. It starts with finding a perfect fit, and then another and another.