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Novel Ideas: Tips & Tricks to Keep Kids Engaged in Reading

It is really important to keep pre-teens and teenagers enthusiastic about reading. Children who continue to actively read will strengthen their  writing, and  be prepared for the more challenging reading material that will come in their future (high school, college, university).

Reading has changed a lot since the majority of teachers and parents were student. The options available were Encyclopedia Brown, The Babysitters Club and Nancy Drew novels. Students of today have lots of great and interesting options, and do not just have to read novels, and many books even have plots as good as movies and video games.

The secret is that children need to be given lots of choice and variety in regards to what they read. They need to be provided the option to try out a range of fiction genres (Science Fiction, Fantasy, Adventure, Realistic, Historical, etc), and non-fiction topics (Space, Animals, Video Games, etc). Children and students need to be given options so they can discover how to independently pick a good book. They will not always have a teacher or parents there to direct their reading choices, and they need to discover what gets them excited to read.

It is also important to have a text/print rich environment for students/children to be exposed to. Does your classroom have a functional and appealing classroom library? It is important that the texts be readily accessible at all times, and not just at special assigned reading times. In your classroom, encourage students to go over to the library and pick up a book at lunch, after they finish their math or during independent reading time.

At home children (teens) should be taken to the public library or a book store and given choice on what to borrow or buy for their own personal libraries. A magazine subscription such as Sports Illustrated for Kids might just encourage your reluctant teen to read while they eat breakfast.

Parents and teachers can model good reading choices. Do your children/students see you reading? Is it only instructional materials or do you model your own personal reading choices? It helps me having meaningful conversations with your children about reading, and make recommendations based on personal experiences with various novels, magazines and audio books.

Author's Note: When Insurgent, the sequel to Veronica Roth's Divergent, was release last spring I rushed to my local bookstore to purchase it. My students saw it on my desk and those of us who were reading it together shared our thoughts and opinions. To this day if I see someone reading Insurgent I stop to ask them if they are enjoying it?

Children who are reluctant to try to read could be shown graphic novels, comic books, newspapers, instruction manuals (and asked to help use or build the item), newspapers, store flyers and magazines. Reading is not just novels, but actively engaging with text.

Another popular trend in reading is integrating technology into reading via e-readers (Kobo, Kindle), tablets (i Pad, Android, Windows 8) and audio books. Many public and school libraries loan out e-readers and audio books. Audio books can be downloaded, and put onto an i-Pod. These audio books can be listened to in the car, on the school bus or in the classroom, if permitted.

Where to start?

  • Try one of the popular/favourite teen novels: The Giver by Lois Lowry, The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, Divergent by Veronica Roth, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Delirium by Lauren Oliver .
  • Check out the Ontario Library Association book contest archives lists
  • Red Maple Grades 7-8 {}
  • White Pine Grades 9 -12 {}
  • Ask at your local bookstore for reading recommendations based on your student/child's interests. A good place to start would be the Science Fiction section. Dystopian fiction is very big right now, and most students cannot put it down.
Here's a great visual example of how to store books in your classroom to offer students a clear selection. It's a book buffet!

Let these ideas help you keep your students or children continue their love of reading!

Do you have more reading engagement-related questions? Ask below!

Posted by Kristy in Parent, Teacher, General ← Previous Post Next Post →

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