Some kids are born with a book in their hands. Some, not so much. Yet, reading is a vital means of acquiring new information. You know that from your experience as an adult. Your kids, not so much. Since we’re here to prepare our kids for a future they only partially grasp, there has to be a way to get them the skills they need without requiring their full cooperation. Which brings us to reading.
Right now, it’s difficult to convince the kids I know that reading is worth their time. I hear on a regular basis that they can watch the movie instead. I’m not a fan of this; the kids I’m working with read the book before they see the movie. However, we use movies for our discussions of narrative and writing all the time – we just choose movies that are movies rather than movies that were books.
Okay – so what?
One way to get kids to read that works for me is to make it a quest. They’re all into quests from the movies they’ve seen and the video games they’ve played. Getting them to engage in a quest works for a few reasons because they:
- don’t have to finish every book they start
- can pick anything they like
- are welcome to try different genres
- find that magazine articles count
- keeping a list and marking their progress is fun.
Marking their progress toward what? Their quest is to find the book that makes them a reader.
I came upon this idea while attending an SCBWI meeting with Katherine Paterson and Susan Cooper (I know, right?!) as speakers. At one point, people in the audience shared the book that made them a reader. It was moving to hear the title of the book which meant so much to different people of all ages. I’ve since used this with the classes I’ve taught – with great success.
Here’s how it works:
- Get a notebook of some kind – preferably one with bound pages.
- Tell your kids that they are on a very important quest.
- Explain that for nearly every person you’ve met, there is one book that stands out.
- That book is the book that made that person a reader.
- Their quest is to find that book.
- The notebook is for them to write the title and author of each book they try.
- They don’t need to complete more than three pages of a book.
- They can switch books as often as they like.
- They can try fiction, nonfiction, fantasy, mystery …
- The goal is to find their book!
When their book is discovered? Have a party to celebrate!
Let me know how it goes!