Monday, July 25, 2011

My Smart Kid Hates to Read: Part II

So yesterday we went over tips to get your smart kid to the page. And today, we're hitting WHAT to choose for your smart book-hating kid.

First of all, I'd look very seriously at Graphic Novels. The illustrated element moves the plot more swiftly. There's gratification in turning pages and a lot of story packed in. ALSO, comic books and graphic novels often use elevated vocabulary. This has been documented in research studies. The vocab in graphic novels can be very rich. If you're feeling snooty about graphic novels, don't. You haven't looked at them recently. They've moved up to rank in Pulitzer territory. Check in.

Secondly, DON'T FORCE THEM to read the books YOU LOVED. Keep trying of course but also play to your child's natural interests. Let the sports kid read World Record books and Sports Illustrated and biographies of great players and then great sports novels. If your kid is funny -- 9-13 -- I'd go with Dear Dumb Diary, a little older I'd look at Angus Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging. Both are girl narrators. I was throwing beautiful timeless traditional and beloved novels at my daughter -- many of which were whimsical fantasy, which I'd loved -- but I'd forgotten that my daughter loves the gritty truth of life. I stopped giving her the books I loved and started with gritty biographies of tough women. (A girl who refused Twilight, my daughter loved The Hunger Games. In fact, Katniss was an antidote for many young women readers.)

Thirdly, novels in verse. Witness was also a favorite because it's written in verse, is complex, and appears very spare on the page. There are a number of novels in verse for both middle and high school. (Karma by Cathy Ostlere is a very long novel in verse, but may be of interest.)

Fourth, books of contemporary poetry for high schoolers. Nothing old and dusty. Look at the new stuff -- have 'em dig around in some Best Americans or Poetry Daily (online). There's great depth and few words.

Fifth, mysteries. The slow reader has a huge advantage in mysteries because they absorb clues better. One of my kids is now reading The Westing Game. I loved Agatha Christie as a kid (and was a slow reader); suggest readers move onto her work, if old enough...

For great book suggestions at all ages, cruise around Melissa Wiley's site at the Bonny Glen.

I forgot to mention yesterday -- 1. AUDIO BOOKS. Listen in the car, then read some of the book in print ... Strike a deal to keep the book moving.

And 2. Kindle -- the % function, in particular. Yes, we could look at the book and tell how much we had left, but this function -- something old made new -- boosts some young readers, that progress function, the popping up of the dictionary ...

The deal is they have to keep opening books -- don't force them through the books (see yesterday's post). The more books they open, the better chance they have of getting hooked and drawn in.