Every parent wants their child to become an active reader. Some parents have children who love to read and they didn't have to do anything to force it. Other’s aren't so lucky. As a writer and avid book lover/reader, it’s hard to believe that when I was younger my dad had to force me to read Nancy Drew. After one book, I was hooked. Now I have a collection as part of my library. You may have a similar story, either as a parent or as an adult. But what do you do when even forcing your child to read one book doesn't spark that interest in reading.
Here are some of my suggestions.
First thing to keep in mind is that there are 3 main age groups when dealing with children’s books. Beginning Readers which are kids ages 5-8. These are those kids who have just starting to read on their own or are starting to read to you. Next is Middle Grade which is ages 9-12. These are your pre-teens who are in the midst of finding themselves and what reading materials they enjoy. Last, is your YA, ages 13 and up, your teenagers. Even with this group, you can still have your younger teens 13-15 and your older teens 16-18. There is also a 4th group called New Adult geared towards college age readers.
When you’re looking for books online, you’ll find most websites split the ages into these groups. However, when in books stores such as Barnes and Noble, they’ll combine beginning readers and middle grade into a section called Independent reader. The best way to distinguish which books are for what group is to read the jacket cover. Sometimes, the description of the book can help determine what age the book is for. You can even look online first, then go to the book store.
Now that you've got the groups in order, one great way to recommend books is by thinking about the topic of the book or the category the book fits into. Match these books by what your kid likes to do. There are many categories out there from Sci-fi to Animals to Sports. If you have a child who loves nature, look for books that fall within the Science and Nature category. Or a child who loves monsters, look for books that fall into the category of Scary.
With categories you’ll find that most books fall within more than one category. Which is also one way you can introduce new books to your kids. Start with a book that has a category they already enjoy, make sure there’s a second category and if they like the second, recommend more books within that second category.
Another way to suggest books to kids is by looking at the authors they are reading. More cases than not, authors will stay within a certain age group or category. You can watch the authors they’re reading, then suggest books from other authors in the same category or books from that author that’s in a different category.
Have a child who is still unsure about the book, go to YouTube. Book trailers are starting to gain popularity. Kids can not only read the jacket but actually view a trailer online just as they do with movies. Which brings me to movie adaptations.
The movie industry loves to translate books to the big screen and kids books are no exception. Movies provide parents with another avenue to engage their kids in reading. Provide them with the book first and use the corresponding movie as something you can watch together once they've finished reading the book.
All-in-all, when it comes to finding books for children, just think outside of the box. Forcing a child to read a book may not have the same effect as it did 20 years ago.