Thursday, September 29, 2011

Helping your child discover the joy of reading

Parents have a tremendous impact on helping their children not only learn to read, but discover the joy of reading. We want to help our child find just the right book for them, but it's hard to figure out the best way to help our kid.

James Patterson, best-selling author, is passionate about helping kids discover the joy of reading. He's written an op-ed piece for, and I want to share some of it here.
"Here's a simple but powerful truth that many parents and schools don't act on: The more kids read, the better readers they become.

The best way to get kids reading more is to give them books that they'll gobble up -- and that will make them ask for another. Yes, it's that simple. 1 + 1 = 2. Kids say the No. 1 reason they don't read more is that they can't find books they like. Freedom of choice is a key to getting them motivated and excited. Vampire sagas, comics, manga, books of sports statistics -- terrific! -- as long as kids are reading. Should they read on e-tablets? Sure, why not? How about rereading a book? Definitely. And don't tell them a book is too hard or too easy. "Great Expectations"? Absolutely. "Finnegans Wake"? Well, maybe not. And remember, books can be borrowed free at libraries." James Patterson, How to Get Your Kid to be a Fanatic Reader
Head over to to read more of Patterson's advice - it's worth the trip. He's absolutely right - the biggest way parents can help is connect their child with books just right for your kids' interests.

You know your kid better than anyone else. Talk at the dinner table about the sort of things your kid likes. Talk about how books can be great places to explore those things. If you have a baseball-lover, fill your home with sports books, trivia books, biographies, and sports novels. Check out Dan Gutman's baseball card fantasies, Sports Illustrated's great kids books, and some of the wonderful biographies like No Easy Way! The Story of Ted Williams and the last .400 Season by Fred Bowen.

James Patterson has also created a fantastic website for for parents, librarians, and teachers, and other children's book-loving souls: The site is "dedicated to making kids readers for life;" Patterson and his team do this by bringing together a great selection of page-turners for a range of ages, from young toddlers all the way through advanced tweens and teens. Patterson's mission is to get kids hooked on books they can't put down, so they can develop an interest in reading that will lead them to other books that will launch them as lifetime readers.

I have been particularly impressed with the layout, site design and content of ReadKiddoRead. It's set up for great browsing, first by age level (with implicit reading levels), and then by either interest and genre. That intuitively fits the way parents and kids want to find books: I have a eight year old third grader, who loves fantasy. You'll find a selection of 30 books in this category, a mix of classics and new releases. Each book has a review that describes what's great about this book - the reviews are short enough to read quickly, but well developed enough to give you a real sense of what the book's about. And then there's a list of "If you love this book, then try" suggestions.


  1. Mary Ann, Thanks for all your exciting and juicy suggestions in reading adventures. I just forwarded this one to the kid's teachers.
    In our house, it has also been great to have interesting magazines laying around. Both my kids love National Geographic and grab for it as soon as it comes. I've also noticed them looking through the cooking magazines and Sunset.

  2. Sharon, I love that suggestion of magazines! You're absolutely right!

    We keep a stack of magazines in our bathroom and often have to call to the kids several times to come out...!

    I've been talking at school to our students about how reading pictures is so important. I should bring in a stack of National Geographic magazines and do a project. What can you infer from a picture without reading the article? What does it make you think about? What do you notice and wonder about? And how many times do you start to read an article (or part of one) because you're fascinated by the picture.

    Thanks so much for forwarding this to a teacher.
    Mary Ann