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Monday, November 15, 2010

Why Are Some Children Reluctant Readers, While Others Devour Book After Book? by GAP Author Margot Finke



I guess all brains are not wired in the same way. Some children gravitate toward reading despite parents who never opened a book, and never read to them. Other children, from families with a passionate love for books and reading, never feel the urge to peek beyond the cover.

And there are also those children who have a problems reading, and avoid it at all cost. First, make sure it is not some form of ADHD or Dyslexia. Whatever the cause, these children need to be tested, diagnosed, and the correct guidance and help provided. Finding the problem early, and treating it early, is the only way to help your child learn methods that will assure he thrives as a teen and an adult.

When I was a young Aussie growing up in a small seaside town, reading great books, listening to the radio, and going to the movies was the height of the teckie scene. Oh, and if you were older, the Saturday night dance at the church or the school Gym was the ultimate - especially if you had a hot date. Later on, gabbing on the phone also took over - kinda the dinosaur version of texting.

As a child, my parents read to me often. Books were a magic carpet ride to wild and wonderful places I might never be lucky enough to visit for myself. A rich and wonderful story made me feel sad when I reached the last page. A great author always made the characters and their trials and tribulations come to life. I become involved. I rooted for them. I identified with the characters. I wanted more! I read under the covers using a flashlight when I should have been sleeping. I was never without a book somewhere handy.

This is what I hoped my three children would feel about books and reading. I read to them when they were young, and when we moved to the US, I made up fun stories for them , about critters from their Aussie homeland. The walls of our home were lined with well read books. Yet our son became a reluctant reader. A smart kid who drooped and scowled when asked to read any book.

This highly technical age, with its bells and whistles, seduces many kids - especially boys, The distraction of video games, slick movies you can watch at home, TV and texting, all have huge appeal to 21st centaury youngsters. Only dwebes and wonkers read - right? Because so many moms and dads now work full time, the trend away from reading has escalated. Often, no one is home after school to supervise, and see that TV and games are limited, and reading is given a big push forward. Many parents (particularly single ones), must work more than one job to make ends meet. This means housework, laundry and cooking must be done after dark, and reading to children sometimes gets put on the back burner. Exhaustion is the norm for these parents. I know only too well - there are just so many hours in each day, and you can only do what you can do.

So, how to get reluctant readers reading, when time is tight, and money even tighter? Grade school boys can be lured into reading if you just remember that they are mini macho editions of their dads. Steer clear of girly stories with giggles and gossip. Boys like fast action stories, armpit noise makers, a dead mouse in someone’s bed kind of humor, and cool dialogue. Think junior version of "Raiders of the Lost Ark," or "Pirates of the Caribbean." Go for macho - long on action and short on angst. This worked for my son when I discovered the "Hardy Boys" series. He devoured every one of them, and hasn't stopped reading since.

Stop a moment, and take note of what your older RR (boy or girl) really likes to do - baseball, football, skateboarding, fashion, food, cheerleading - whatever it is, find books that center around their interest and passions - fiction or nonfiction, it doesn't matter. Talk to them about their interests while you eat a meal, do the laundry, or drive them to sports events. Get a dialogue going. Give them a library card of their own, and encourage them to go choose books THEY like.

Try to make one hour of the week family reading time. Choose the book together, and then take turns reading to each other. I know one family who did this for an hour a week. They all enjoyed it so much, they now do it every night, right after dinner.

My other Blog, HOOK KIDS on READING offers a selection of books (on the lower right) that are written with reluctant readers in mind.

* If you know of a child suffering from big changes in their life, "Ruthie and the Hippo's Fat Behind," is a fun rhyming read with a sneaky message + the Q&A in the parent- teacher guide will be very helpful.
* If you have a child who is dyslectic, read them the rhyming, "Horatio Humble Beats the Big D." The included parent-teacher guide offers helpful advice + links to more serious help.
"Rattlesnake Jam" was written with my son, the reluctant reader, in mind: rhymes full of
icky boy stuff and humor.
* And coming soon - mid-grade boys will eat up "Taconi and Claude - Double Trouble." Set on a cattle station in the Aussie outback, an upcoming Man Ceremony, danger, Dreamtime Spirits, goanna steak, a problem Dad and a chatty cockatoo, all help Taconi decide his future.

Margot Finke is an Aussie transplant who writes midgrade adventure fiction and rhyming picture books. For many years she has lived in Oregon with her husband and family. She is also the proud Nana of seven grandchildren. Gardening, travel, and reading fill in the cracks between writing. Her husband is very supportive and their three children are now grown and doing very well.

Margot didn't begin serious writing until the day their youngest left for college. This late start drives her writing, and pushes her to work at it every day. Margot said, "I really envy those who began young, and managed to slip into writing mode between kid fights, diaper changes, household disasters, and outside jobs. You are my heroes! "

Her Website offers details about all 10 of her rhyming books + those coming soon, and her Manuscript Critique Service will help you write tight and terrific. There is also plenty of help for beginning writers. Two blogs offer fun, information and helpful advice about choosing books for kids, and how to write them. Visit a while and discover great books for your children.



G.A.P. Books for Kids -
http://mysite.ncnetwork.net/restbcm8/Margot%27%20%20Books.htm


“Wild and Wonderful” – rhyming series about animals from the US and Australia
http://mysite.ncnetwork.net/restbcm8/Books.html#clues

WEBSITE: Writing Help and Manuscript Critiques - http://www.margotfinke.com/
2 Blogs:
http://hookkidsonreading.blogspot.com/  
http://margotfinke.blogspot.com/

4 comments:

Janet Ann Collins said...

Thanks for the important advice, Margot. I hope lots of people read this blog post.

Anonymous said...

Some kids don't make the cognitive connections that allow them to enjoy stories, even when they have no trouble reading words and sentences. Check out Kari-Lynn Winters book, Beyond Words, Using the Arts to Enhance Early Reading Comprehension.
http://home.earthlink.net/~lookagainpress/id17.html

Donna M. McDine said...

Margot:

Absolutely terrific article. Wonderful tips and book recommendations.

Best wishes,
Donna

Kristi Bernard said...

Its really tough to get boys reading. I like that you put it in prespective with Raiders of the Lost Arc, it gives parents a visiual idea.

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A NECKLACE FOR JIGGSY
A POCKETFUL OF MANNERS
A SHORT TALE ABOUT A LONG TAIL
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A TALENT FOR QUIET
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ABIGAIL PLATT'S CUSPIDS
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LAST PAGE IN THE DIARY
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TACONI & CLAUDE: DOUBLE TROUBLE
TALES FROM INDIA: CHARACTER COUNTS! RESPECT
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THAT'S A LOT OF LOVE
THE ADVENTURES OF CHICKOLET PIGOLET: THE BRIBE OF FRANKENBEANS
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THE ADVENTURES OF ANDY & SPIRIT- Book 1 Tweener
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TODAY I AM A PENGUIN
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