Engaging the Minds of Picky Young Readers
October 02, 2012
"We can’t find anything my elementary age son likes to read!" I hear parents say again and again. "We’ve tried books with pictures, funny books, scary books; you name it. Can you help him find something?"
How I love being on the receiving end of that conversation! The first thing I do is turn to the child and ask, "What kinds of things do you like to do? Do you play any sports? Do you like to draw? Do you have any animals?" Usually by the time I have finished those four questions, I see a spark in the child’s eyes as he begins to tell me his interests. "Let’s look over in the children’s nonfiction section and see what we can find."
The children’s nonfiction area has a wealth of really fun information for kids! Many times, it is ignored by younger children, but once they are introduced to all of the great materials available, I find them going back again and again…and bringing their friends with them! Just last week, I heard one young man say to his friend, "Did you know they have a bunch of really cool books about how to draw stuff?" Then he proceeded to take his friend to the same area I had shown him the week prior. I love seeing the excitement as little boys and girls who used to think of reading as being "boring" realize that there’s something interesting for everybody in the children’s nonfiction area.
Some topics to suggest for elementary age children are books about cars, trucks, trains, animals, soccer, baseball, basketball, NASCAR, dinosaurs, stars and planets, joke books, how to draw books, craft books, cook books, and the list could go on and on. With younger children, you may want to be more specific. "Would you like to read a book about baby animals or zoo animals? What kinds of trucks do you like; Do you like fire trucks or dump trucks?" Then lead them to the section, and let them look through the different books available. Show them that the books about cars and trucks are in the 629 section, the books about dinosaurs are in the 567.9 section, the "how to draw" books are in the 741-743 sections, etc. What a joy it is to see the look of relief on the faces of parents as you help introduce their young children to reading materials they will enjoy.