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Apr 27 / Amanda Vorce

A Few Suggestions to Get Kids Readin’

Michael Chruściel

Strategy 1: Introduce them to new books so they can know what’s up.

New books deserve introduction to children for several reasons. Most important is that new books are usually the talk of the town and to hear about new books but not have the chance to read them is upsetting. Much like how new movies, television shows, or video games get a lot of hype prior to their arrival on the air or on shelves, new books can also garner a lot of excitement for those who anticipate them. Encouraging children to read new books is an investment in their future in terms of how they choose to entertain themselves. If children are stuck reading books that older generations have deemed to be important, then children will never feel anywhere but stuck in the past. However, if educators or librarians can create an excitement and anticipation for books in children at a young age, the chances that children will continue to hold those emotions towards books in the future will be more likely. If a child has never been entertained by a fresh new book, he or she will probably never discover enjoyable new books (or books in particular) as an adult.

Strategy 2: Introduce them to local authors. It can inspire them.

Children can be inspired by hearing about the real-world accomplishments of local authors because it will give them the knowledge that it is possible to achieve success, notoriety, and fandom from wherever one’s origin may be Too often, the major celebrities of any art form are more known than any local talent. I think it is also important not just to introduce children to the output of local authors but also to explain their biography as well. Simply seeing that someone from his or her own state was recognized nationally may not be enough to convince a child that it is also possible for them. What may do the trick is researching the local author’s biography and explaining what could possibly be humble roots the author emerged from, and children could better relate to that. Even if humble roots are not present, outlining how the author finally achieved his or her notoriety, whether by going to school, traveling, accepting rejection, etc. is a better way to inspire a child to try and do the same because it teaches that child what it will take to emulate the success.

Strategy 3: Try poetry. It’s not gonna kill ‘em

As it can be said about most things in life, it is unknown if a child will enjoy something until he or she has been exposed to it. Poetry is an all-encompassing word that includes many diverse writing styles, including haiku, limericks, free verse, sonnets, etc. I think too often poetry is presented in its most standard long form with older language that appeals to only a small audience who appreciates that level of sophistication. As a result, poetry gets tossed aside as too analytical and therefore totally un-cool. To overcome this, a wide array of poetry collections should be presented to children so that the stereotype of poetry does not persist throughout their adulthood. To cast a negative shade over the entire topic and not allow it to be presented to children would be an enormous bias. I think that when poetry is being introduced to students, it should not simply be regarded as “poetry”. The poetry under discussion should be qualified further to include its most accurate label (whether haiku, limerick, etc.). This way, poetry in general will more likely not be disregarded as uninteresting to students.

Strategy 4: Let them read whatever they want. No questions asked.

It may sound simple, yet it is so often not allowed, that children should be allowed to read whatever suits their interests. One of the most important things to keep in mind is that all forms of reading need to be encouraged in order to keep an interest alive. Too often, various forms of written works are discarded by parents who have a narrow and conservative interpretation of what constitutes reading. As a result, books that appeal to children that may not have been standard material during a parent’s youth might be discouraged or refused to be brought home. This means that when children pick up video game guides, manga, graphic novels, “silly” books (Big Nate, Captain Underpants, etc.), look and find books, and adaptations from television series, toys, and movies (Batman, Spiderman, Pokémon, Barbie, etc.), these reading selections need to be wholeheartedly supported. If children get the impression from adults (parents, teachers) that these books are not “reading”, then reading may get a negative connotation and children may give up finding a “suitable” interest in reading when so many of their interests have already been put down. If children’s interests are disregarded too often, the result may be simply being interested in only the more passive forms of entertainment, including television, video games, and movies. Alternatively, if a child is noticed to not take an interest in reading, then maybe an interest from another form of media can be the basis for initiating an interest in reading (i.e. “I notice you like watching ______ on TV. Did you know that this show started out as a book series ?”).