I recently started a collaboration with Mom’s Favorite Reads; a blog created by author Hannah Howe. I wrote a guest post with reading tricks for kids of any age, which Hannah has kindly hosted on her blog. Below is a brief summary of the article. I hope you’ll enjoy reading the whole post on Mom’s Favorite Reads.
As an author of children books and teen-friendly fantasy books, I also ask myself this question’s flipside: how can I make my books appealing to them?
In the immortal words of Gonzo the Great, if at first you don’t succeed, fail, fail again. In my case, after many trials, failures, and retrials, I have come to two main conclusions:
First, every child is different; second, every age has different triggers, needs, and sensibilities.
Which means that encouraging children, teens, and young adults to read, is an ongoing mission rather than a one-off thing. It also means that for every age, your weapons, allies, and book-loving superpowers are different.
HOW TO MAKE TODDLERS LOVE BOOKS
It is a paradox, yet not a secret: for many children, the love for books emerges at an age when they cannot read for themselves. Encouraging a toddler to love books needs lots of energy on your part, so it is important to also encourage yourself! Here are a few tips that have worked for my family:
- Take them to the library or bookstore. It can be scary sometimes, as it is more than certain that toddlers will be more fascinated by the library stool and will want to climb on it rather than looking at books with you. Allow that within reasonable limits—after all, it is not a bad thing for your toddler to think of the bookstore or the library as an exciting place. Then move on to the books.
- Let them select some of the books. You will probably choose most of the books at that age, according to what messages you would like to pass to your little ones. However, let them also make their own choices. Sometimes, the result may surprise you. It could be that your toddler will be interested in a coffee-table book on tractors, farming, insects etc. Coffee table books are not “age appropriate” by any publisher standards, but so what? If it doesn’t break the bank for you and you find it interesting, take the chance. Your toddler will be proud to own a grown-up book, plus this one book will be an opportunity for both of you to learn something new together (it is possible that you know absolutely nothing on tractors until your 3-year-old chooses a coffee-table book on the green and yellow John Deere monsters).
- Make it a sweet moment. During the toddler years, it is more likely that the parent rather than the child will drop reading as a daily activity and let the love for books deteriorate. Because, let’s face it, we get tired during the day; too tired to impersonate the big good wolf once more. So we need to remember that there are actually very few moments of calm that we enjoy with our toddlers during our demanding schedules and busy days. Dim the lights, get under the comforter, inhale the sweet smell of their silky hair, and start reading.
HOW TO ENCOURAGE YOUR YOUNG READER
So they know how to read now. Why don’t they read? Why do you still need to read to them, or need to force them onto the couch with a book (which they love when you read it to them but hate when they are supposed to read it on themselves)?
- Keep reading to them. Listening to a narrator seems to be a very primal instinct. In my opinion, the success of audiobooks shows that even adults love to listen to someone reading to us. So keep reading. There is no age for stopping reading to our children. As they grow up, maybe we can take turns and ask them to read a favorite story to us from time to time. Also, by taking the “toddler” routine to the next level, we sustain a habit that they love not only because they love stories, but because they also love the privileged moment with us. If, on the other hand, reading alone becomes the reason to lose that favorite moment with us, it is possible that they will resent reading alone. So keep making those voices!
- Definitely let them choose their books, or most of them. If your daughter can choose cereals and outfits, she can definitely choose her books. Children at this age learn to make responsible choices and gain autonomy. Use your parental control only when it’s really worth it (more on that on teens…).
- Read books yourself. Although I know many bookworm parents whose children are never seen to read on their own (much to their despair), setting an example is important. It may remain dormant for some time, but the seed is planted.
TEENS AND BOOKS
Ah, how the terrible twos and the horrible threes look quite lovely right now, don’t they? Or at least that’s what seasoned parents tell me. This is the age we battle with our children more than we would ever imagine. We need to pick our battles, and books might not be one of the battles we should fight. Try some subtle techniques instead of fighting:
- Respect their reading moments. When you see them read, just leave them alone. Reading is a place for finding yourself and an important moment of the day, rather than an indication that your teen has some free time to help you with the chores.
- Develop the skill of planting books and letting them grow. If your teen only shows minimal interest in books but are hooked on Game of Thrones, “plant” ‘A Song of Fire and Ice’ on the coffee table, next to the bathroom sink (hello, captive audience!), on the garden table, in the car backseat. Make graphic books, beautiful coffee table books, and interesting magazines part of your décor. Lure your teen with interesting adult books: science fiction, mysteries, thrillers, funny books, sports books… Again, subtlety is key: instead of openly suggesting the book, just let it be on common sight. Let them watch you flick through them. You can bet it will end up in their hands at some point. Just let the envy grow.
- Give them missions that involve reading (but don’t tell them that): Let your teen see how reading relates to life’s everyday activities. Let them prepare for a trip by reading a guide or even fiction about your destination. Take the time to visit a bookstore during the holidays and choose a book to bring back from the holidays. Find books related to your family history. Offer them books related to some sports activity they love. Select together a cooking book and prepare some of the recipes with them.
AN ACT OF FREEDOM
More than everything, I think that it is important to teach our children from a young age that reading is a pleasure, not a chore. We need to remind them that, contrary to popular belief, they have the right to read the end of the book before the beginning if they wish, to let a book half-read if they don’t like it, to read many books at the same time, to read the same book or chapter again and again, to fixate on a genre, to stop liking an author or a genre they used to adore, to read only a few select chapters, and even to judge a book from its cover alone.
Reading should be an act of freedom. Treat it like one and enjoy the wonderful sight of your beautiful child reading their favorite book!
Read the whole post on Mom’s Favorite Reads or continue reading for an introduction to Mom’s Favorite Reads.
Mom’s Favorite Reads
Hello, my name is Hannah Howe. I write psychological and historical mysteries. My books are distributed through Gardners to over 300 outlets worldwide. Over the past four years, my novels have reached number one on the Amazon charts on fifteen separate occasions. This summer Saving Grace, my Victorian mystery, was a bestseller in Australia. I’m also a co-founder of Mom’s Favorite Reads.
I am grateful to Nicholas Rossis for this opportunity to talk with you about Mom’s Favorite Reads. Mom’s Favorite Reads is a community of book lovers. We produce a quarterly book catalog, which features over 400 books, and a monthly magazine. Our magazines, available as eBooks, in print and audiobooks, have topped the Amazon Contemporary Women charts, the Seasonal charts and the Graphic Novel charts in America, Australia, Britain, and Canada. Alongside leading independent authors our magazines also feature contributions from high profile mainstream authors. For example, in the new year, we will feature exclusive interviews with a Dr. Who screenwriter, a member of the Sherlock Holmes Society and Terry Deary, author of Horrible Histories, one of the most popular series in the history of publishing.
Also in the new year, we will develop our community to support literacy amongst adults and children. One of the ways we will do this is by offering schools, societies and literacy projects bundles of free books.
If you are an author, you are welcome to join Mom’s Favorite Reads. If you are a reader, please check out our website, book catalog and magazines. Nicholas features in all three including an article in our December magazine. If you would like us to support a literacy project, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will explore the possibility of supporting your project.
Thanks once again to Nicholas for this opportunity. It was a pleasure to feature his writing in our magazines and on our website. I wish him every success and hope Mom’s Favorite Reads will have the opportunity of featuring his articles and books again in the future.
Our website https://moms-favorite-reads.com