And it's back to We Recommend, where my girls and I use our superpowers
to figure out the exact right book recommendation for whomever writes
in to ask. Just send us a description of the kid you're talking about,
what he or she likes and does like, any other relevant (or irrelevant,
why not?) information, and we'll dip into our collective
unconsciousness and come up with the perfect book, which will
inevitably be overshadowed by the amazing and insightful
recommendations from the commenters. So go ahead, test us!
Today we have a request from a heavy-reading parent who wants to inspire her less-reading-driven son. As follows:
"I'm writing about my 8 1/2 year old son, who is an excellent reader but
has been slow to make the leap to chapter books, which I believe is
more a confidence/interest issue than a question of ability. He:
– is not interested in Harry Potter
– loved the Narnia books (read out loud to him though)
– enjoys reading non-fiction, particularly those DK Eyewitness type
books on various topics (sharks, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, etc.)
– will read the Magic Treehouse series, but does not seem particularly engaged enough to finish them
– does like Captain Underpants series, but again, it's more of a few
pages here, few pages there sort of interest, rather than sustained
I have made a few purchases of books he might like (Nate the Great, The
Great Brain series, various youth Star Wars chapter books, The
Graveyard Book, etc.) but nothing seems to spark much lasting interest.
I am hoping for the day when I will see him so engaged in a book that
he will make the effort to return to it until he has finished it, but I
am also wary of being pushy on the subject.
I would be grateful for suggestions of other books or series that might
appeal to him. His teacher requires that all students carry a novel
for independent reading in their backpacks, so I'd like to take
advantage of that opportunity to introduce some new options.
As a child who needed books like I needed air to breathe (I recall
rummaging around in the basement once for something, anything new, and
magically discovering the Narnia books in a box), it's hard for me to
comprehend not having a deep level of engagement in reading. Do you
think I am expecting that he should make a leap into lengthier chapter
books too early?
First of all, I would say that if the kids likes being read to, go
ahead and read to him. Anyone who likes hearing the Chronicles of
Narnia read aloud is a reader at heart, and as far I as I'm concerned
you should throw your worries
to the winds. That said, sometimes you want your kid to read to
himself. There is nothing more delightful than companionably hanging
out on the couch, you with your book, and your kid with his (or hers).
So what to offer this guy? It would help if we knew what interested him
in general: Sports? Cars? Magic? Nature? Pokemon? Cooking? True-crime?
If he has a strong preference towards a particular interest, forget
whatever we say here and get him a book about that. Lots of kids go for
nonfiction for a long time before they ever go for fiction, and any reading is of course fine.
But if that's not the case, then I'm going to just go ahead and recommend this:
hunch is that he likes to be read to because for him reading is still
hard. It's a lot of work to get through words on the page, and
sometimes seeing so many sort of defeats a kid before he starts. A
graphic novel slips the words by in un-overwhelming (sorry for
non-word) bubbles, and then there you are, You with In Other Rooms,
Other Wonders (trust me), and him with Volume 7, a plate of cookies,
two cups of cocoa, and the best sort of afternoon in the world.
But don't trust me and my limited library. What do you guys think?