My eldest son is nearly six (how on earth did that happen?) and he recently brought home a reader from school called Rough and Smooth. He has been trending towards non-fiction readers for a while now, so it’s hardly surprising. However, he refused to read this book to me beyond the first page, and in all honesty I don’t blame him because it was pretty dry. Actually, very dry – honestly, who wants to read on and on about things that are rough and things that are smooth when there are adventures to be had? How could I force him to read that book when I saw the excitement in his eyes at the opportunity to hear me read a book that will take him on an adventure?
The reader sat on the shelf unread for a few days, so loving mum that I am, I went to the library and brought home a stack of books that I knew he’d like. The selection included a fairly advanced reader about Spider Man that I threw in at the last moment, and of course that turned out to be a winner! He refused to go to bed until he had read it cover to cover (learning quite a few new words along the way), and then he read it again the following morning before school, with less help. After that, I decided to send the reader back to school unread and he took the Spider Man book for Show and Tell. Luckily, he has an understanding teacher who is happy to follow his lead.
So, what’s the moral of this story? Children will learn to love reading if they read what interests them, or – to borrow an expression from Marie Kondo – “sparks joy”.
Apart from the Spider-Man reader, the latest series of books to capture Mr-Nearly-Six’s fascination is George Ivanoff’s You Choose series. They are much like a similar series I loved as a child – the reader gets to decide the story line by making a series of decisions along the way. It’s written in first-person perspective so the adventure is happening to “you”, which adds to the excitement. I had the pleasure of meeting George at a writer’s festival a few months ago and bought one of the books and now I wish I had bought the whole series. We started with The Treasure at Dead Man’s Cove and have since raided the local library for more. The text is beyond my son’s current reading level so I did the reading, and the storyline wasn’t too scary for him. Actually, we tried out a number of storylines before I had to declare it and send him to bed. You can find out all about the You Choose series on George Ivanoff’s website.