Saturday, April 24, 2010

Terry's Client Max Elliott Anderson guest blogger

As a child, I never liked to read. When I mention this to someone today, I can anticipate the reaction. Their mouth drops open in disbelief, followed by a gasp. “You’re kidding!” often follows. That’s probably because I’m also the author of a number of action-adventures and mysteries especially written for other boys who may be facing similar difficulties.

I used to think that a reluctant reader was simply someone who hadn’t found the right book yet. But the causes may go deeper than that.

At the outset, it’s important to understand our terms. Parents must be certain that, if facing a struggling, reluctant reader, there aren’t any problems with vision, neurological issues, or other medical conditions that might hamper reading. These should be diagnosed by professionals, but here are some things to look for.

Difficulty with vision.

Does he have good posture while reading?

In addition to vision, a child may suffer from ADD (attention deficit disorder), ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), dyslexia, or other learning disabilities.

For the purposes of exploring reluctant or struggling readers, let’s say that you’ve had your child tested, and we can rule out vision or medical problems. What is your next step toward getting him interested in reading?

Start with audio books. In some cases, this is used while also holding a copy of the same book. A child is able to both see and hear the words at the same time, and practice following along.

Select a book that is below grade level. You may also want to experiment with comic books, graphic novels, or magazines like Sports Illustrated for Kids, Ranger Rick, Highlights, and others.

Some have found success by using electronic readers like Kindle and iPad.

Recently a study was released which noted that nearly 80 percent of children 6 and under, read or are read to in an average day. But it went on to say that children spend an average of 49 minutes with books in that same average day, compared with 2 hours and 22 minutes sitting in front of a television or computer screen.

If your child avoids reading in every way possible - choosing video games, or the computer over reading - you might set those activities aside as rewards. You can say, “After you’ve read for thirty minutes, or an hour,” for example, “then you may spend time doing those other things.” Here are some other ideas.

Read aloud with your child.

Get rid of distractions.

Above all, make reading fun.

Have your child try reading to a dog, a cat, a doll, or stuffed animal.

Look for high interest, low vocabulary books called Hi-Lo.

Anytime I’m asked if reading is really all that important, I give several reasons why it is, and add that readers are the leaders others follow.

-Books For Boys Blog

-Author Web Site


Charmaine Clancy said...

Fantastic post. This is such an important topic and you've covered a lot of bases. I teach English/Literature in high school and am always trying to find ways to include the kids that show no enthusiasm for reading. Sometimes using the abridged version of a novel makes it less intimidating and I've found letting kids host a blog of book reviews really motivates them (my girls hurry through books now so they can blog about it).
As you mentioned, graphic novels can be a great stepping stone, especially for boys. Great work!

Jill said...

I love your posting! Great topic and an important one. As the saying goes: those who do not read are no better off than those who cannot read.

writer jim said...


Helping children is such a wonderful, and often powerful, endeavor.
Way back when I was in school, there was a teacher known as the meanest of all the teachers. He actually sort of frigthened me. Yet when a friend of mine had trouble learning... the "mean" teacher recognized that my friend needed glasses; and he took him to the eye doc and bought him glasses.
That actually taught me a lesson about how easy it is to mis-judge what type of person someone really is.
I pray God blesses you and your books.

Jeanette Levellie said...

What a great post! Wish I'd have thought of it. May I steal, ahem, borrow this idea for my blog?

We read to our kids from the time they were babies, then read as a family when they were in gradeschool. Both of them love to read now.

Your ideas are splendid, Max!

Raquel Byrnes said...

Wonderful advice and insight, Max. And thank you for the link, I'll check it out.