Thursday, June 22, 2006

A Passion for Reading

Like Lois, I can't imagine not being a reader. And her post, combined with my current dilemma, got me thinking about when and how I became a reader. To tell the truth, I can't remember. I've been an avid reader as far back as I can remember. I do know incidents and specific books that cemented and reinforced my love of reading, but I can't remember NOT reading. And, obvious, since I'm a writer, it's a passion that has driven a lot of my life choices.

My own kids are readers, though it was tougher getting my son interested since we had trouble finding things he liked, but (thank heavens) that didn't last. (Now that he's grown and buying his own books, his reading choices amuse me. He reads a general list of fiction--whatever is around and available on our bookshelves or his friends--but if he's spending his money, he's into self-help stuff that boils down to getting other people to do what you want them to.) My daughter is perhaps a more passionate reader than I am. And she reads everything.

My dilemma is this: What do you do with a nine-year old who isn't interested in reading? My niece is staying with me this summer and just isn't interested. How do I GET her interested? I'm determined to send her home when school starts, addicted to reading. (I know this is a prejudice of mine, but I swear, the people who read do much better in life. The ones who don't, don't seem to be having as good a life.) I know she'll do better in school. I know she'll see that she has more options. I just know that, like my kids, reading will open lots of worlds for her.

So what made you a reader? What books changed your life? Any specific book that made you a passionate reader?

And most importantly for right now: What books interest your nine year olds?


Gina Black said...

Maybe you could read to her? Sometimes that's a nice way to encourage reading. If there are any books geared to her age that you've wanted to read that would be a great excuse. Or read her your favorites from when you were her age.

At her age, I loved the magic books by Edward Eager. There's Encyclopedia Brown. Now there's Harry Potter, but I can't imagine a kid who hasn't read HP.

Milady Insanity said...

IMHO, it's not a prejudice at all, Alfie.

I don't know about 9 year olds, but Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy and Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time might be good. I felt that Neil Gaiman's Coraline was a very strange tale (great writing, but I'm not sure what his point was), but I think it's meant for that age group.

Terry Z McDermid said...

What a great goal for your summer!! Reading aloud with her could be a way to get her started. One of my sons is a reluctant reader and we would read together every night. After a few pages, I would have to leave the room for a few minutes. By the time I came back, he was usually reading on his own to see what would happen next. It was also a great way for us to bond and we read through most of the Harry Potter books together that way (we still read together and he's just into high school now).

Another good way to 'hook' her on reading is to get her started with a series -- she may want to continue to see what happens with the characters.

Several ideas from the third and fourth graders I had in a writing club: the Junie B. Jones books by Barbara Park; the Ramona stories by Beverly Cleary (Ramona is at different ages, from kindergarten on; sometimes can also find videos at the library that can whet her appetite); The American girls series (a great way to bring in history and the books are based in various parts of the U.S). For fun, my son liked the Wayside School stories, which were written by Louis Sachar, who also wrote Holes.

Happy Reading!


I agree that reading aloud is a great start, as is finding a book that mirrors hobbies and interests she already has. That's the nice thing about books--whether your passion is vampires, historical times or learning more about rockets, there's a book for it!

I do know that when I was about that age, I loved The Girl With the Silver Eyes. Mild paranormal about a girl with an unwanted "gift" who by the end of the book finds kids with similar abilities and problems. Good story without being a terribly difficult reading level.


Jennette said...

My daughter is 10 and loves the Spiderwick Chronicles. When there's a new one of these, she won't stop reading for anything until it's finished. If we're going somewhere, she even reads as we walk to the car! She also loved Inkheart. She's very into Manga, which might be a good starting point for your niece. Yes, it's mostly pictures but it's reading too, and if your niece enjoys anime (seems all the kids do), she'll enjoy reading Manga. Only problem I have with them is paying $10 for something my daughter reads in 1/2 hour - so we hit the library a lot.

Alfie said...

Gina, imagine my niece. She hasn't ready HP and isn't interested. But thanks for the recommendations. The Edward Eager books sound like something that might be up her alley.

Milady, you don't sound the least bit insane.;) I love people who agree with me. I have The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time on my own list. So maybe I should put it at the top of my book-shopping list.

Terry, I have been reading to her. She's okay with it but we haven't yet found a book that has caught her fancy and made her want to read herself. That's why the dilemma. But now I have a great list.

Tanya, you reminded me of how much my own daughter loved The Girl with the Silver Eyes. I'll bet we still have it around her somewhere. It's definitely going on my list.

Jennette, thanks for the Manga suggestion. I have a feeling that might be exactly the kind of thing I need to get her started. And that is really what I hope to do. Hook her so that she wants to start reading herself.

Thanks everyone.

Gloria Harchar said...

Yes, reading aloud is a wonderful way to get kids hooked. We read a book together every time we go on a road trip. Each of us takes a turn, then passes it when we want someone else to take over.