Reluctant No More: Getting Kids to Love Reading

Do you have a reluctant reader at home? A kid who would rather do just about anything than stick his or her nose in a book? Perhaps she’s overwhelmed by the thought of a chapter book. Maybe he’s completely disinterested in books other kids his age are reading. Have no fear. Blue Baboon Books is here to raise your kids from reluctant to robust readers!

Get them reading! It truly does not matter what they’re reading, so long as they’re reading. It’s okay to say yes to Minecraft handbooks, magazines, and comic books. Whatever they read, they are building vocabulary, learning sentence structure, expanding their imagination, and improving their capacity to comprehend. It’s better that they read Dan TDM’s “Trayaurus and the Enchanted Crystal” than to watch Dan TDM on YouTube. And it’s not just sufficient, but it’s valuable. The most important thing you can do to encourage your child to be a reader is to get them to read and support them in their reading endeavors. Dan TDM’s book might lead to books on computer programming, adventure novels, and a world of possibilities. Let them read what they want, and they will learn to enjoy reading.

Graphic and illustrated novels are amazing opportunities to bring reluctant readers to the table … or the library or bookstore, so to speak. Too many times I hear graphic novels dismissed as “not real books.” Au contraire! Graphic novels are an excellent bridge for kids moving from picture books into novels. And in recent years, graphic novels have upped their games with compelling story lines, witty humor, and gorgeous art. The graphic elements throughout these gems make chapter books less overwhelming, breaking up the words-words-words with clever and creative illustrations. A few popular graphic novels include …

  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid“: There are 11 titles in this series, which centers around Greg and his general awkwardness.
  • Dork Diaries“: Another tale about the awkwardness of middle school, this time from a female protagonist. Choose from 11 titles, plus one do-it-yourself journal.
  • Again, Dan TDM’s “Trayaurus and the Enchanted Crystal“: This YouTube sensation comes to life in this full-color graphic novel.
  • Big Nate“: Tales of mischief and misadventure.
  • Raina Telgemeier explores the world of school, family, drama, crushes, and friendship in her beloved graphic novels:

It’s okay to read easy books. Parents might get frustrated that their child can read at a fifth-grade level, but he’s only interested in third-grade books. That’s okay. It could be a maturity thing, in that he relates more to third-grade materials. It could also be a matter of comfort. If she’s reading a book for enjoyment, she should actually enjoy it. If she’s struggling through it, not understanding the vocabulary or plot, or just not connecting … she’s going to feel discouraged and give up. Just because a child can read at a fifth-grade level doesn’t mean she wants to read at a fifth-grade level. Again, if we want kids to enjoy reading, we have to let them read books they enjoy.

Pass the book buck. My oldest son is a bit of a reading rebel. He doesn’t like to read what mom recommends. Never mind that mom owns a bookstore and reads about 100 books a year for fun. I’ve been told “Mom, you don’t know what’s modern.” Sigh … But I do know that there are people in his life who, if they said it was cool to jump off a bridge into the piranha-infested Amazon, he’d do it. So I’m not above nudging others to recommend a book that I think he’d like.

Rule out any learning challenges. If your child truly doesn’t seem to excel at reading, check with his or her teacher. She might, in fact, be struggling with an un-diagnosed learning disability. Getting a diagnosis and intervention will be key to overcoming this challenge.

A few of my personal favorites for reluctant readers:

  • Return to Augie Hobble“: New Mexico middle-schooler Augie Hobble grapples with adolescence, paranormal mysteries, an overdue Creative Arts project and heartbreaking loss while working at his father’s theme park, Fairy Tale Place.
  • Matchstick Castle“: Eleven-year-old Brian’s summer turns out a lot less boring than expected when he encounters a huge, wacky house in the forest and befriends the eccentric family that lives there.
  • The Invention of Hugo Cabret“: Living in the walls of a busy Paris train station in 1931, clock keeper and orphan Hugo Cabret must constantly work to keep his secrets safe, but when an inquisitive girl and an old man who owns a toy store begin probing, he must do all he can to keep them at a safe distance.
  • Coraline“: Coraline ventures through a mysterious door into a world that is similar, yet disturbingly different from her own, where she must challenge a gruesome entity in order to save herself, her parents, and the souls of three others.
  • Frazzled“: Struggling with a family that does not understand her and a cafeteria full of corrupt lunch ladies, drama-prone Abbie Wu throws freak-out tantrums in her struggle to figure out who she is, where she belongs and how she is supposed to survive the everyday disasters of growing up.
  • The Girl Who Drank the Moon“: Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the forest, Xan, is kind and gentle. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster named Glerk and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon, Fyrian. Xan rescues the abandoned children and delivers them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey. One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinarymagic. Xan decides she must raise this enmagicked girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. To keep young Luna safe from her own unwieldy power, Xan locks her magic deep inside her. When Luna approaches her thirteenth birthday, her magic begins to emerge onschedule–but Xan is far away. Meanwhile, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch. Soon, it is up to Luna to protect those who have protected her–even if it means the end of the loving, safe world she’s always known.