Illustration of "Brianna's Book Stop" by Jeffrey Duckworth / Book Cover for WHERE DO DIGGERS SLEEP AT NIGHT? (on the bookmobile) by Christian Slade

Monday, May 27, 2013

Keep Reading Fun Day: Motivating Books are Key!

Once again it is Monday (or as like to I call it around here "Keep Reading Fun Day").  Last week, I wrote about the power of reading aloud and this week I am going to write about what I have found is key to come nextfinding books that motivate young beginning readers to want to read.

It can be very tempting to find the correct reading level for a child (a student or my own) and to give them a book at that level and expect them to start reading. At least I have made that mistake at times.

About a year ago, my oldest son was ready to begin reading and I gave him books that were at the exact correct level for his current (very beginning) reading stage. Unfortunately, I had made a big strategic mistake. While some kids will read through books that don't interest them my son found this miserable. Part of it is probably personality and part of it is probably those wonderful read alouds. He had heard such wonderful stories that the very short books he was then able to read seemed very disappointing by comparison.

All I wanted was for my son to love reading and he professed to hate it. Ouch! What could I do? (I promise this story has a happy ending. Please keep reading :o) )

As I was trying to figure out what I could do, I asked him what could make him like reading more. "Better books" he told me. Our conversation quickly led to the idea that books about Thomas the Tank Engine and Bob the Builder would be super-cool.

(While these books might not be great literature, they were motivating to my son. And, at that point, motivation was key!)

So we immediately went online to order a bunch of these books, and his passion to continue reading was reignited.

Recently, we had a similar issue. Thomas and Little Bear had lost their charm. But the Boxcar Children did the trick. He loves hearing these stories read aloud and now he is excited to be reading the easy reader versions of these books (which are not so easy) on his own.

It is a bit funny to me that I had to learn this lesson with my son. When I worked with reluctant readers in my private practice, the first thing I always did was find out what kind of books they liked to read. (Often their first answer was "short". :o) )

Once I got them to go beyond that initial "short" criteria and tell me more about what kinds of books could interest them, I would greet them the student the next week with a custom pile of books chosen just for them. And then I would empower them by asking them to divide their new books into three piles: -books they definitely wanted to readbooks they might want to read and books they definitely did NOT want to read. I loved to see what an empowering experience making these piles was for my new students!

Yet, even though I've always known the power of motivating reading materialit is very easy to forget. Too easy to focus on level alone and to ignore a reader's interest (or lack thereof) in the book at hand.

I will work hard not to do this again!

So what books motivate the young readers in your life?


  1. my girls are pretty independant readers at this point, so i encourage just about anything that sparks their interest. they've loved the big sellers as well as some lesser known titles. as long as they're reading, i'm happy!

  2. That's awesome Amie! I am such a big fan of "anything that sparks their interest"! And I completely agree with "as long as they're reading I'm happy!". Yay!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!