By Aaren Cravaritis
Most everyone knows the label “reluctant reader.” I prefer, and would ask us all to change that to the more promising term, “developing reader.” As a librarian who was, and is, a slow reader, I know that there can be pressure on kids to choose a book to read. Children benefit from understanding their own reading ability, with the goal of easing into chapter books with more complex text.
But of course, the question remains, how do I capture the attention of my developing reader?
Cool displays and works of nonfiction
Sometimes it is a well-placed display of books that have been made into movies or an intriguing collection of books about scary creatures that live at the bottom of the ocean. Nonfiction books are also a powerful way to capture the attention of developing readers. It isn’t necessary to read every page or from the beginning until the end. Readers can browse through the book and stop on a page that looks interesting. These techniques are great ways to build reading confidence and stamina.
Consider different formats
Consider the many formats that books come in. A paperback book can also be enjoyed as a book on CD, a Playaway, an e-book or an audiobook available on Libby, OverDrive and hoopla Digital. Audiobooks are a favorite of mine. Readers can listen on a much higher level than they themselves can read. Try it while following along with the book or while in the car. If you’re not familiar with a Playaway, it is a pre-loaded portable media player that is battery operated. It’s small, convenient, and does not require an electronic device or Wi-Fi.
Try some graphic novels
Graphic novels are especially appealing to developing readers who are not ready to pick up a more traditional book as they’re written like a comic-strip. Readers still do the mental work of understanding the story line, character development, problem, and resolution, but because there’s imagery combined with text, developing readers can find them more interesting.
Involve the whole family
The summer is a wonderful time to get children warmed up to reading by doing some family literacy activities. Take turns reading. Older children benefit from sharing both chapter books and heavily illustrated books which offer fun “Ah-ha!” moments for reading comprehension. Having images alongside words provides a bridge for understanding the text. You can also try the classic hot potato game with books. Pile a variety of books in the middle and read one until the timer runs out then switch books. Read slow or fast – it doesn’t matter.
When a developing reader says, “I just finished a book!” it’s a big deal and is worth celebrating. Librarians and staff are here to help our young readers, at all levels, explore the many options for them at Prince William Public Libraries and, with summer reading right around the corner (June 14 – August 15), we’re eager to help kids and teens find the right fit for them. Whether visiting in person, enjoying our Digital Library online, or using our curbside service we have something for everyone to enjoy during the warm weather.