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Dr. Joanne Meier

Along with her background as a professor, researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne every week as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.

Dropping a dud of a read aloud

September 13, 2010

It's happened to all of us, right? A friend recommends a book, or you read about one on Amazon, or your librarian thrusts one into your hands, "I can't believe you haven't read this book!"

Such is the case with our current family chapter book read aloud. It was recommended to me by friend who works as an elementary school media specialist. She's usually a reliable source for titles. The reviews on Amazon backed up Maria's recommendation. "It has everything a book needs: excitement, adventure, a touch of romance, and a highly believable main character," wrote one reviewer. "You'll fall in love with this book and the three sequels, I promise!" wrote another.

Well, we're five chapters into the book, and for us, it's a dud. Dud. Dud. Dud. The chapters are LONG, the sentences are even longer, and the humor is so far buried in there that they're too bored to laugh. The other humor is just really not that funny. Humph.

So I've decided that we're going to drop the book. Tonight. I know my girls are bored with it, but probably figure we'll keep plowing right through it. We're going to recognize that it's okay.To.Not.Finish.A.Book. Really! I hope our decision leads to some good conversation about the writing style and our own preferences. Why do we think the book is a dud? What did we like about it? What didn't we like? Did we give it a good try? Where should we go from here?

I've written about ruining books before, and I want to be sure to follow my own advice! (Clearly I'm not following all my own advice; I blew it with the second criteria from this list, I hadn't read the book myself before sharing it with the girls).

Has this situation ever happened to you? Have you ever "dropped a dud?"


It turns out when I broached the subject of dropping the book, both girls said, "NO!" They love the book. It must be just me who thinks it's pretty boring. Oh well....two more chapters to go!

Yep, we've dropped a dud, and it was a popular one by an author whose books I typically enjoy. OH WELL! We just finished The Magical Ms. Plum and it was a fun one. Hopefully we don't run into your dud book on accident :)

I would love to win free books for our United through Reading program at our school, Blessed Sacrament Parish School. We collect new children's books that are passed on to parents in prison here in Southern California. Volunteers record the parent reading the book, than the DVD and book are given to the child. It is a wonderful way for the child to stay connected to a parent in prison, and to promote early ready. Thank you for your work!

ENTER NOW TO WIN FREE BOOKS FOR CHILDREN!Thanks to a donation from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, we’ve created a contest for schools, classrooms, libraries and other nonprofit groups to each win FREE books. The books are great for children between the ages of 4 -8. Post now why your school library, classroom or nonprofit reallyneeds the books, what makes you stand out above the rest? Post by September 30. The first 100 nonprofit folks to post will win 10 free books to add to their libraries.

As a media specialist in a primary school, I drop "duds" all the time. I have modeled this process because I don't like every thing I read and I don't finish the book. Kids need to learn that it is OK not to like a book.

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"Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift." — Kate DiCamillo