Just one more chapter before lights-out? Please?
Although I expect those words can be frustrating to a parent who just wants a child to go to sleep, the words are still something that I think all parents should be glad to hear, because it means the child is reading. Not watching TV, not playing yet another level of a video game, not glued to the computer.
It’s sometimes difficult to know how to encourage a child to read, when there are so many other enticing options. Emma Walton Hamilton’s book, Raising Bookworms: Getting Kids Reading for Pleasure and Empowerment, provides a plethora of suggestions both of ways to get kids to read, and books suitable for every age level.
Raising Bookworms is a title that has something to say to writers, as well.
Writers need to bear a large part of the responsibility in the task of raising bookworms. If the books available aren’t crafted to catch and hold a child’s interest, then the child isn’t going to want to read. So we as writers must ensure that we are creating quality writing, that will entice children to turn the pages, to keep reading — and to go back and read a book again and again, discovering thereby the fact that one can find something new in a book even when reading it for the second or third or fifteenth time.
Children deserve our best possible efforts as writers. In the comments, I’d be glad to hear your ideas about how we can do this. What is most important in our writing to ensure that kids are turned on to reading? What do we need to do more of? Less of?
And, just a heads up — next week I will be having a giveaway of two copies of Emma’s book, Raising Bookworms. From Monday to Friday next week, you’ll have opportunities to enter the giveaway, and to do more thinking about encouraging literacy in many different ways. Stay tuned!
How well I remember begging my mom to “just finish the page!” My kids all began as readers and have trailed off a bit as they hit high school and had a lot less time for pleasure reading (although I’m happy to say they still read when they can.) As writers I think the important thing, as always, is good stories. Write things that speak to kids’ experiences and emotions, the things they wonder about and worry about. Good writing is about more than just the story, it’s about speaking to some universal theme that a child can relate to whether that’s a longing for adventure or a desire to feel that they’re not the only one in the world who’s afraid of the dark. It’s about connection.
My middle name could have been “Just one more chapter!”
Connection. That’s really key no matter what age one’s reader is, isn’t it?
I still remember the occasional sigh when my daughter wanted me to read one more bedtime story or ask twenty questions. It’s true. It was good to hear her enthusiasm about reading.
As writers, we have to remember they are kids. They aren’t going to haggled about dangling participles, but they will find fault in a huge plot hole. They want stories they can relate to, stories they can imagine themselves in. They want to enjoy the adventure with the MC.
I agree with Susanna wholeheartedly.
Stories they can imagine themselves in. Yes.
I hope I’m raising a bookworm. At the end of a long day of play, etc., it makes me happy when he piles books on the arm of the rocking chair and climbs up into my lap ready for the cover to be opened and to hear a story.
Oh, I love the image of Enzo being ready with his stack of books! You’re definitely raising a bookworm there, Stacy!
We make this part of the bedtime ritual. We read out loud, then at the end when she asks for more we allow her to read other things on her own for 15 minutes or so until lights out. She loves it!
Oh, I’m so glad you do both — reading out loud and giving her time to read on her own. Both are so important! Reading aloud doesn’t need to stop as she gets older, either, although you might start taking turns, you reading one night, she the next — that’s how a friend and her son do it, and he’s still enjoying the ritual at 13.
Great post. As a writer, I feel a huge responsibility to entertain kids with my books while also, hopefully, teaching them something. There’s just too much fun stuff out there competing for their attention!
You’re right, Sarah, we have a lot of competition, and kids are apt to look elsewhere for their “entertainment” if we don’t grab and hold their attention somehow. There’s a lot to consider, isn’t there?
My kids beg for another chapter and I almost always give in because I am more than happy to indulge their love of reading. Can’t wait for your giveaway – would love to win Emma’s book!
You’re definitely my kind of person! Always glad to hear of people who indulge their child’s love of reading. The giveaway starts next Monday, and the two winners will be announced the following Monday. It’s a fabulous book.
I used to love to read books and stories to my three daughters before bedtime. I would read them things I too wanted to hear so often the story level might be a bit about the suggested level, but I think that helped them to hear something other than kid stuff. We would all look forward to reading whatever chapter came next. They all seem to like to read now that they are adults.
At other times I would make up stories and they really liked this. I made up a character named Margaret and I would tell them stories about her on various nights. This was fun because I would ask them for input to help guide the direction of the story and it would give them an opportunity to be creative on their own and not merely listen to a story written by someone else–it became their collaborative story composing effort with me.
Tossing It Out
Lee — thank you so much for sharing! I, too, think it’s very good to encourage kids to “stretch up” a bit in what is read to them. It sounds as though it worked, too, since they’re all still reading now that they’re adults.
I particularly enjoyed hearing about the Margaret stories. What a great way to encourage creativity, and thought about how a story comes to be. That would be a great thing for anyone to do with their kids. Thank you!
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