Just ask the Librarian

Do you have a student who is assigned reading every day? Does the assignment make one or both of you grind your teeth? Do you have trouble finding ways to encourage reading in your house? Here are some ideas to help find books, fit in reading, or otherwise encourage wordy habits. Of course, when it comes to finding books, I find it easiest to simply go to the library and just ask the Librarian for help.

What if your student only reads one type (or one series) of books and you would like them to branch out a bit? Sites like Good Reads have “read alike” suggestions to help find new titles, authors or series. Similarly, try doing a read alike search online (for example, “Dog Man read alike”). This is also a situation where your friendly neighborhood librarian comes in handy. Give your Librarian information like age, grade, reading level and interests and a bit of time to work their magic; you will end up with a list (or stack) of titles.

Maybe the student has issues with reading a physical book. In that case, audiobooks may save the day. Besides sites like Audible, free audiobook sites like Epic offer many titles (perhaps their teacher has an account). Libraries also offer audiobooks in the form of physical CD’s and downloadable audiobooks.

All this talk about the library…use your library card! Take advantage of what your tax dollars are already paying for! Go online or in the building and browse. Ask staff for suggestions. Check out the various displays, binders and/or pamphlets that are available to offer suggestions. Staff members are there to help…use this wonderful service.

Another idea is to download a book to a device for your student to read. Perhaps being “allowed” to read on technology will be enough to hook them into the reading habit.

Does your student enjoy book series like The Magic Treehouse, I Survived or Who Would Win? How about looking for non-fiction books related to those topics. On the flipside, do they navigate towards “real story” non-fiction books? Search out their historical fiction counterparts. Besides the above titles, series such as Ranger in Time, Time Warp Trio, The Treasure Chest and some Dan Gutman favorites are also popular.

Old-fashioned comic books work for reading, too. I am talking those books of compiled daily and Sunday comics. Those wonderful treasures say so much in a few scenes. Plus, a dose of Calvin & Hobbes is good for the soul.

Magazine subscriptions are wonderful, too. If you find something they are interested in they will be excited every month to peruse what is inside.

Kids magazine subscriptions encourage reading in their interests
Magazine subscriptions related to an interest are a great way to encourage reading (and make great gifts).

How about letting your student help you? Reading you a recipe step-by-step is a great way to get them reading. Or, perhaps they could “help” by reading directions for a household task.

Form a Family Book Club. Read a book together and talk about it. The discussions do not have to be deep, but talking about a book can develop some good analytical skills. Or, form an informal book club with a friend and make a special time of the discussions. The books read do not have to be long or high level; again, it is the practice of talking about the book that is important here.

Another good way to encourage reading is finding one that has been made into a movie or TV show. Sometimes watching something on screen helps people understand what the book was about. Of course, sometimes watching a book adaptation is just really fun to do. Also, discovering a TV series adapted from a book may encourage a child to check out the original paper edition.

How about playing games to slip in reading? Try word games such as Boggle, Scrabble, Bananagrams. They encourage word recognition, spelling mastery and critical thinking. Or, find a game like Dixit, Headbandz or Guess Who? that requires using descriptive words. Then there are the games, like Monopoly and Life, that require reading cards in order to make decisions and progress through the game. Finally, there is always Mad Libs, a classic game is not only silly, but helps teach parts of speech.

Great board games that encourage reading...and imagination
Great board games that encourage reading…and imagination

Let us not forget about singing! I am partial to musicals and Disney movies for their excellent storytelling ability, but you do you. If dancing happens to get involved, all the better.

In our house, we feel that reading is reading. It does not have to always be something deep and meaningful or teach a lesson. Reading does not have to come in a traditional book form to be reading. And, remember, if you feel lost about what to pick out, sometimes it is best to just ask a Librarian…speaking from experience.

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