Shopping in the bookstore for a child who doesn’t enjoy reading can be very stressful for parents, especially book-loving parents. You might think it’s impossible for parents who love books to raise reluctant readers, but trust me, it’s possible. The following are my guidelines for helping parents select books for a child who “doesn’t read.”
1. Ignore levels. Schools use a variety of scoring algorithms to determine your child’s reading level or lexile, and these scoring metrics are intended to determine "education outcomes", not whether a child enjoys reading. They are quantitative, not qualitative. Publishers don’t put these levels or scores on books, and we in the children’s department categorize books on the developmental stage of the reader and the age of the main character, not your child's decoding skills. For this reason we have books in the third grade collection that are very easy, and some that are much more challenging, but they all have appeal for the child who is around 7-9 years old. Reading outside of school should (we hope!) be a pleasure and not a chore, so choose books based on your child’s enthusiasms, not on a score.
2. Fun is good! It’s not necessary to challenge your child with every reading experience; a book that is “too easy” may just be a fun read, and why would we want to discourage "reading = fun"? Reading with ease builds confidence. Go ahead and buy that new Wimpy Kid book - so what if it isn’t serious? Don’t assume that every book for your child has to be the literary equivalent of kale. Books satisfy us in many ways; sometimes we want potato chips.
3. Does your child have a favorite sport, t.v. show, video game, hobby, hero? Let us know; chances are we can find a book in our huge collection that will align with those tastes. Talk to the children’s booksellers: the team has an enormous breadth of knowledge of children’s literature and literacy. We are parents, we are educators, we are readers. Come to the upper floor: that’s where the magic is!