In keeping with end of the year reruns, I’ve decided to finish off 2013 with repeats of some of my most popular posts from the past year (slightly edited and/or updated). Maybe you missed it the first time around! 🙂
Okay, I’m going to admit something an author should probably never admit: As a child, I didn’t like to read. It’s not that I had problems decoding—I just would rather have been doing something else. Like playing ball outside or watching TV. I was one of those people (cringe) who used to say, “I’ll watch it when the movie comes out.”
I could not understand kids with their noses buried in books … it was so uninteresting to me. And therein lies the key: There were very few people introducing me to good books, books I would enjoy.
I attended a small country school for the first eight years of my education. We had no library, no librarian, no book talks or visiting authors—just the bookshelf under the window. My family didn’t visit the city library. While I remember the excitement of first learning to read and I LOVED all Dr. Seuss books, I had a teacher in second and third grade who didn’t want us to read Seuss; she considered them bad books for some reason. So I read all the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books on the shelf–which she also didn’t care for.
As I moved up the grades a few teachers read books aloud, fifteen minutes after lunch each day. I remember Charlotte’s Web and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe–books I got really excited about. I wish more people would have suggested good titles to me. I adored Anne of Green Gables but somehow never read any of the other Anne books.
I didn’t truly learn to love reading until I was an adult (but that’s another story).
When I had my own kids, I set about teaching them a love of reading at an early age and love reading they do. When they were little we subscribed to Children’s Book of the Month Club, and attended library story time on a weekly basis. Before the traveling Bookmobile went under due to budget cuts, we eagerly walked the four blocks to see what books might be on board that day. The librarians knew us by name and sometimes gave the kids advance copies as gifts.
At home, if I had a book I thought my kids should read or would enjoy, like To Kill A Mockingbird, I’d start reading it out loud to them and then stop on account of a tired voice. More often than not the book would be ripped from my hands and finished within a few days.
When the picture books are set aside and the kids are reading on their own, be ready to help them find books they’ll love. This of course will be different for everyone according to their interests. As mentioned earlier, I loved Charlotte’s Web, Anne of Green Gables, The Chronicles of Narnia. Later on I discovered The Little House on the Prairie series, Heidi, The Giver, The House of the Scorpion, Fahrenheit 451, Little Women, The Little Princess, The Hobbit, etc. My son loved the Warrior Cat series.
What will be your child’s favorite next book?
Despite all the new gadgets kids are accosted with these day there has also never been such a great opportunity for them as readers. Book sites allow readers to “shelve” their favorite books, form groups, and share reviews (Goodreads, Shelfari, LibraryThing), making it easy to find books each individual might enjoy. There is even a site (probably several) for kids called Biblionasium. There are bookmatching sites such as BookBub, eBookSoda, and The FussyLibrarian who will send you daily emails suggesting books you might like based on what you request. In addition, thousands of blogs, websites, and Facebook pages help parents and kids find good books. And with Kindles and cheap/free ebooks you don’t even have to spend the money like I did with Book of the Month Club.
Then of course, the library has always been there for that; thank goodness for libraries and librarians :).
What are your favorite books?
S. Smith is the author of the awesome and award-winning middle grade series, Seed Savers. Visit her Facebook and Pinterest pages. Follow her on Twitter. Sign up for the newsletter!