Friday, November 22, 2002

Books for reluctant readers

Yesterday morning my daughter said something to me I never thought I'd hear: "I like to read." What wonderful news! This is a girl who, over the summer, when asked to define what reading meant to her, responded "staring at black marks on paper." Far from liking to read, she's usually expressed nothing but hatred for the activity. But now, at age 12, three months into 5th grade, she's starting to warm up to books. Who'd have thought it?

At our first meeting in September, her teacher told me that she gets kids reading novels in her class in the hope that reluctant readers will find the one book that will make them decide reading's not so bad after all. She may have a success story here. The assignment of a chapter a night in a reading-for-pleasure book has made books a habit for my girl, and the personalized selections the teacher's made have kept that assignment from being a chore. For others with book balkers out there, here are some of the titles my daughter's made it through so far this year, without fear and loathing: Two books by P.J. Petersen, I Hate Company and I Hate Camping; two from the Marvin Redpost series by Louis Sachar, Why Pick On Me? and Alone In His Teacher's House; The Candy Corn Contest by Patricia Reilly Giff; and a Bailey School Kids book by Debbie Dadey, Frankenstein Doesn't Plant Petunias.

To be honest, none of these would be my idea of literature to inspire a love of reading; I long to read "Sarah Plain and Tall" with her, and have her not hate Harry Potter so intensely. But these books are where she's at right now, and she's willing to be there. So I'll be beside her, reading along.

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