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Do children feel that they’ve got to read or that they get to read? There is a difference.

Last week I wrote about what Peter Dickinson called “rubbish” and letting kids read a fair amount of it. Adults often feel strongly about what children read. They may love or loathe certain children’s books — and adults are generally the ones who put books into children’s hands. But their response can vastly differ from children’s responses to the same material.

There was an intriguing comment to that post. Andrea said that “In order to evoke a child’s love for reading and learning, they must have access to high-interest texts. Captain Underpants (opens in a new window), for example, is not a book that I would always allow students to use during independent reading time because it doesn’t give them the opportunity to practice reading strategies. (Except to infer the misspellings of multiple words…) But if they hate reading but love the Captain, more power to them!!!”

Lifelong learners are lifelong readers — and in my experience (and clearly supported by research) — these are children who are motivated (opens in a new window) to read.

I also know that parents and their attitudes play a huge role in motivating children. (RIF (opens in a new window) has some good ideas for parents.)

But parents can’t share what they haven’t experienced and so if reading was a chore — or worse, something that represents failure — they’re unlikely to share the passion with their children.

Books are really all about story. Stories can be fact or fiction and can be shared in many ways, not just through books — through movies or oral storytelling, for example. Maybe one medium will motivate children and their significant adults to discover, or rediscover, another pleasurable storytelling medium — books.

About the Author

Reading Rockets’ children’s literature expert, Maria Salvadore, brings you into her world as she explores the best ways to use kids’ books both inside — and outside — of the classroom.

Publication Date
September 17, 2010

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