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We’re experiencing a strange phenomenon in our house this summer. Molly, who turns 11 in August, has two books she’s required to read before she starts 5th grade this fall. The two books are Little Women (opens in a new window) and The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book 1: The Mysterious Howling (opens in a new window).

This required reading list marks the first time Molly has ever been told what to read outside of school. The result? No interest. Absolutely none! In fact, she’s completely ignoring both books. They’ve been on the kitchen ledge for two weeks.

I think Molly’s reticence to read Little Women stems from its being a “classic,” which in her mind translates to boring! I know her opinion will change once we crack the book — IF I can get her to crack the book. All of this from the girl who will willingly read for hours on her own when she’s allowed to choose what she’s reading! I find the situation very interesting.

Borrowing some tips from the research on motivation, here’s our plan for enticing our nonreader (and former reader) to read her required books. Wish us luck!

  • We’re going to read Little Women as a family read aloud. This will give us a chance to talk about the story, and promote deeper understanding of the book. Our discussions will hopefully enhance Molly’s interest in the story.
  • I’ve promised that we’ll watch the movie adaptation (opens in a new window) when we’re done reading. I think Molly will prefer the Winona Ryder version to the original June Allyson one (opens in a new window), but we’ll see. It will be fun to compare the two, and will hopefully keep us talking about the book!
  • I’ll continue to provide lots of opportunities for Molly to choose her own books to read in addition to her required ones. Guthrie’s research on motivation (opens in a new window) (also a classic!) reminds us just how important choice is in engaging and motivating a reader.

About the Author

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

Publication Date
July 5, 2011