Monday, October 13, 2014

Reading Challenge #2: Reluctant Readers

I will admit that I was a reluctant reader. I use to hate going to the library, which was mostly due to my elementary school librarian. She never read aloud to us and she made us take tests to memorize the Dewey Decimal System. If we failed the test, we were stuck checking out the baby picture books. I didn’t fail my test, but it left a really bad taste in my mouth for books.

While I was attending elementary school, my mother was getting her Master’s degree in Library Science. She learned several important points about helping reluctant readers, especially in Jim Trelease’s book, The Read-Aloud Handbook. Trelease said you must have these three B’s to help reluctant readers:

1) Bookshelf
2) Book light
3) Books

But along with these three B’s, my mother also added three must-dos:

1) Visit and explore bookstores
2) Meet authors and illustrators
3) Give books as gifts, treats, or prizes

As a child, I didn’t realize she was testing these theories on me. Many Christmas and birthday gifts were books. And she did take me to Kansas City (a long two-hour trip from our small town) to see several authors or illustrators give book presentations. Plus we never left Kansas City without going to a bookstore.

And now I will add a final must-do:


It took me a LONG time before books began to appeal to me. The book that introduced me into the reading world was Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. My brother, who works for Diary of a Wimpy Kid author, Jeff Kinney, was also a reluctant reader. The books that helped him enter the reading world was Lloyd Alexander’s The Chronicles of Prydain series. Young Adult author, Jessica Day George—another reluctant reader—found her entrance into the reading world through Robin McKinley’s The Hero and the Crown.

If you have a reluctant reader in your life, give them time. See books as keys that may unlock the door leading into the reading world. Not all keys will work, but don’t stop trying. One of those books will be the right key. Sometimes they may find the right book on their own (like I did), through insightful teachers, or through their family or friends. But it will happen if you follow these three Bs and the four must-dos. Good luck!

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