Reluctant Readers: Finding the Right Book, Part One
This post covers working with the reluctant reader who can read,
but doesn't enjoy it. Maybe even stronger than not enjoying, he really firmly dislikes reading.
Now what? Do you make him read anyway? It isn't fun for him, so is it a battle you want to fight?
My husband never understood how I could get so wrapped up in a book. He could read just fine, but he rarely chose to. He read the Bible because we are church-goers; the newspaper because he likes sports, but to pick up a work of fiction for fun? Not happening.
Until. One day a good friend was excited about an historical fiction book he was reading and he wanted to talk about it with Terry. Out of respect and love for his friend, Terry agreed to read it. The book was thick, written in small print. I was certain he'd never finish it. But I found my husband reading the book before we went to sleep at night. Picking up the book instead of the newspaper in the morning. In the bathroom. He even brought it with him to the dinner table. When he read the last page, tears glistened. He said, "I feel like I've been on a journey with my best friend, and now it's over, how will I connect again with him?"
Powerful Emotional Experience.
As a writer I've been taught that readers read fiction for PEE: Powerful Emotional Experience. Authors attempt to connect with their readers to make them feel something. It is possible that your reluctant reader has never had that experience, just like my husband never had. For decades he thought he didn't like to read because he never found a book that spoke to him in such a profound way. He never sought a book that spoke to him emotionally because he didn't know it was possible.
But you do know. You've had those experiences. You are motivated to help your child enjoy reading because you know he'll be blessed by it.
What do you do? Seek the book that will open that door. We aren't talking about six to eight year olds, but more like ten years and older that have mastered the how of reading, not the why. I know the one that did it for my reluctant reading daughter: "My Side of the Mountain." We offer it in our TLP program and numerous moms through the years told us that it was the first book their sons actually enjoyed. Once that happens, once that first book is found, the door remains open. How will you find that special book?
- Talk to librarians. Which books are most often checked out by boys or girls your child's age?
- Talk to parents with children who love to read. What are their children's favorite books? Chances are you will have already tried without success some of their suggestions, but listen for the title you haven't tried.
- Continue reading aloud. Match your book selections to your child's interest. And don't give him something else to do as you read. Often we recommend this to keep the attention of wiggly students, but in this search for the book that will speak to your child, we want his attention on the story. Do stop often and talk about the story. Look for that spark of interest.
- Pray. Our Father gave us His Word as one way to connect with Him. He knows the power of the written word and can direct you and your child to experience that power.
A few titles for your reluctant reader to check out:
We've been dealing with children's literature for over twenty years. Here are a few favorites:
Boys: Where the Red Fern Grows, My Side of the Mountain, Call of the Wild, The Giver, The High King, Dragon's Blood
Girls: Caddie Woodlawn, Anne of Green Gables, Witch of Blackbird Pond, A Wrinkle in Time, Dragon's Blood
We'll continue on this topic in the next post.