Reading Tricks for Kids of Any Age

Mom's Favorite Reads

As a dad of a 3-year-old whirlwind, I find myself already asking the question facing most parents: how can I make my child read more and spend less time in front of a screen?

As an author of children books and teen-friendly fantasy books, I also ask myself this question’s flipside: how can-I make my books appealing to them?

In the immortal words of Gonzo the Great, if at first you don’t succeed, fail, fail again. In my case, after many trials, failures, and retrials, I have come to two main conclusions:

First, every child is different; second, every age has different triggers, needs, and sensibilities.

Which means that encouraging children, teens, and young adults to read, is an ongoing mission rather than a one-off thing. It also means that for every age, your weapons, allies, and book-loving super powers are different.

How to make toddlers love books

It is…

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About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
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30 Responses to Reading Tricks for Kids of Any Age

  1. beetleypete says:

    Nick Rossis is a great writer, and so astute.
    A first class reblog, Jennie. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

  2. srbottch says:

    A terrific reblog, Jennie. I already forwarded it to my son/wife for their 2 yr olds (who seem to enjoy throwing books more than readingbthrmy😉)

  3. Opher says:

    Reading is nourishment for the mind. Anything that captures kids in that expanding world is good.

  4. A delightful choice to share, Jennie. Hugs!

  5. Good repost with excellent ideas. Thanks, Jennie and Nick!

  6. Elizabeth says:

    Glad to join your readership since I read about you on beetleypete. I also know that some kids just don’t enjoy reading. My granddaughter carries a book to breakfast. My grandson is too busy putting something together without the instructions of course.

    • Jennie says:

      I know exactly what you mean! I tell parents whose children have different reading interests and styles not to worry. Just keep up those reading opportunities and read aloud. Thank you so much, Elizabeth.

  7. frenchc1955 says:

    Jennie, this is a wonderful share!

  8. CarolCooks2 says:

    A great share…That always used to be my favourite time..reading to the children and of course like my recipes I always added my bit…for fun and for a while it was always the same stories…Now, of course, that has changed with my grandchildren we discuss all sorts of articles found on the internet but it encourages curiosity and it is reading although on-line…I do miss reading to my children when they were little but happy memories 🙂

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Carol. Reading to children always leaves it’s mark. Not only do the children benefit, but we do as well. Those memories are the best!

  9. I love the bookstore and library counsel! While I’m spending 2+ weeks with #1 Grandson we’re going to find the library and get him a library card, and the bookstore. I know he misses our library story time and visits there with me because he told me so when he was last here and we happened to pass the library.

    I read to my children when they were teens, they begged me too and begged far into the night one night when I was reading James and the Giant Peach despite my voice giving out. I read for hours that day and nearly finished the book. We did finish it the next afternoon with me reading out loud. They’ve never forgotten it and neither have I.

    I haven’t read to them out loud since. Perhaps I’ll take a book of poetry with me and read aloud to Baby Girl while she’s confined to Hospital Bed Rest. A captive audience! 😃 If she’s not keen I bet a new Steven King novel would make her happy though.

    I made this same comment on his site too.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Deborah! How exciting that you’re taking your grandson to get his very own library card! That is such a big thing. You’ll have to let me know what book(s) he chooses first.

      A cool fact that your grandson might find fascinating (I certainly do): During WWII many of the top scientists in Germany decided to move to America. The very first thing they did when they got here was to get a library card.

      I can picture you sticking with James and the Giant Peach long into the night. Isn’t it amazing that reading aloud had such an an impact? I hope Baby Girl wants her mom to read aloud. She might like Steven King. Harry Potter would be an excellent choice. She just might want to hear James and the Giant Peach once again. Happy reading!

  10. Norah says:

    This is a great article, Jennie. There can never be too many reminders of the importance of reading.

  11. dolphinwrite says:

    Hello. Good article.

  12. dolphinwrite says:

    Okay. The difficulty these days is too much instant gratification. Young people, even very young, are on hand-held devices. Just today, at the hospital, I saw a loving man holding his granddaughter, and I thought “cool.” Also, as a toddler, she was also on a hand-held computer, playing games. Cool. But I hope her life is balanced in doing things with other kids and her folks.
    In my days, it was the television, and nothing else, so if there was nothing on, outside we went, and we spent more time outdoors, especially if friends were available, and our parents didn’t want us indoors all of the time. Also, in most places we lived, the neighborhoods were relatively safe, so our parents weren’t watching all of the time, though we were to tell them if we were going out of the neighborhood. Needed permission. And 95% of the time, we told them.
    With computers, infinite television, and smart phones, we’ve lost patience, want instant attention, and squawk when it’s not there. Just this morning, in the middle of a grid-lock, I was looking for the radio and smart phone, getting out of the car to see what was going on ahead. Then, I thought about catching some Z’s if things weren’t going to move soon.
    This is far different than when I was growing up. We could talk. We could read. We could play games (i.e. word games, rock/scissors/paper, argue, get paper to make origami, or something.). We didn’t need constant attention or occupation. In fact, I miss my old ways when I could be occupied with anything.
    I would suggest removing videos from the household, or setting limits, doing things with the kids that are hands-on. Board games, cooking and baking, cleaning the house together, walks and talks, reading bed-time stories so the kids are into those, and finding actually good books for kids to read (I still love the older books by Beverly Clearly and those Encyclopedia Browns.). You could have little hunts in the house where the kids are given clues and the firsts to find everything wins.
    When I was growing up, we made tree forts, played tag and backyard sports, played board games, made stuff up (We were playing frisbee golf long before the sport was invented, but we used trees and poles.), even dumpster diving for bicycle parts and what nots, playing bicycle tag where the one it had to be on a bicycle, and so forth. The list is endless if you’re willing to put electronics away. I guess, because we didn’t have them, we found the joy of doing.
    Good luck.

    • Jennie says:

      You have said everything that is really important to childhood. Hear, hear! I do everything I can to keep: talking, walking, board games, reading, building outdoors, painting, and listening to music alive in my classroom. Thank you!

  13. dolphinwrite says:

    Seems we both are trying our best. Keep being the person you are.

  14. Ellen says:

    I had not taken time to read this post upon arrival, although it was saved amidst my unopened emails that I planned to get to at some point. I wanted to read it because reading tricks for kids at any age tweaked my curiosity. I was, however, feeling somewhat arrogant about my success with Benjamin’s progression and love of books, thinking this could wait for later. It had not occurred to me that his love of reading could or would change, it never had for me. The statistics listed of the decline in reading for pleasure by age is alarming. Nicholas Rossis has opened my eyes to a formerly unfathomable possibility and I will diligently follow his excellent advice in the attempt to prevent Benjamin’s becoming one of those statistics. This is a must save post! Thank-you for sharing!

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Ellen. Those statistics are alarming. Nicholas got those from me, and I got them from The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. I found the book when my children were little, and it is in its seventh edition, million copy bestseller, on and on. I had the good fortune to hear him speak at a teacher conference. When a baby is born, my standard baby shower gift is a copy of this book, and Goodnight Moon. I hope you can read the book, too. It has statistics, fascinating stories (which I have published on my blog), and a complete list of the best books to read aloud. I am so glad Nicholas was also alarmed at the statistics. The message is important. Best to you, Ellen.

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