Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Getting Kids into Books: Literary Freedom

One of the best ways to get kids interested in reading is to let them choose their own books. Nothing kills enthusiasm for reading like criticism of reading choices. I once overheard an interesting exchange in the book section of a department store. It went something like this . . .

Kid (about 6 yrs old): Dad, can I buy a book?
Dad: Okay, let's see if they have anything good.
Kid: I like this one about sharks. Sharks are way cool.
Dad: Oh, I see a good one--The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food. There's a book you need.
Kid: Never mind.

My heart went out to that kid. I wish I could have figured out a way to buy him the shark book. Take care not to criticize the books that speak to your child. It's okay to read the same book more than once. It's okay to read comic books and magazines. It's okay to stop reading a book if you don't like it.

We have a ten-percent policy at our house. If you read ten percent of a book and you don't connect with it, you can choose to set it aside and try something else. Trying to slog through a book that doesn't speak to you is another way to take the fun out of reading. Just move on to something else and keep reading.

What about you? Any ideas for maximizing reading fun? We'd love to hear from you.


  1. I love going to the library with my kids and letting them pick whatever they want with none of this "We really can't afford all those books; you'll have to put some back." And they come up with the most amazing things when allowed to pick what they want. Also, the library has great summer reading programs. Win, win, win!

  2. I'm glad you brought up libraries, Katharine. They are the perfect places to explore new reading choices.