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Match-Making; Finding the perfect book for your reluctant reader

When your child tells you he doesn't like reading, what he's really saying is that he hasn't found the right book yet. I believe that it only takes one soul-moving book to get a kid reading. But the variety of books is overwhelming. How do you choose the one book that will change your child's life? It's not as hard as it seems.

First, you need to match your reluctant reader with the right genre. How do you do that? Below is a list of movies or activities that align interests with genre (click genre for a list of books).

If your child likes...

Diary of a Wimpy Kid/Sports/Disney sitcoms/Movies about real people/(Hidden Figures, Soul Surfer)/Dance-look for REALISTIC FICTION/BIOGRAPHIES

Star Wars/Lego/National Geographic/Technology/Robotics-look for SCIENCE FICTION


Halloween/Fairy tales/ Movies like Maleficent, Wizard of Oz, Harry Potter, Narnia,- look for FANTASY

Marvel/Super Heroes/Comics/Dress up- look for GRAPHIC NOVELS

Outdoors/Camping/Exploring- look for NONFICTION.

The History Channel/Wars/Titanic/- look for HISTORICAL FICTION.

Matching a child to a book isn't an exact science. For example, my tween son loves the Diary of a Wimpy Kid movies and read the books. Any activity that requires a ball--basketball, football, baseball--he loves. That puts him in the REALISTIC FICTION category. We read The Big Game by Tim Green and it was a match made in heaven. He's been reading ever since. However, during the pandemic, my husband, a 6th grade ELA teacher, read The Book of Three (FANTASY) aloud, and my son loved it so much that he compared real people to the characters in the book which means he was thinking about the book throughout the day. That's a good sign. However, there's a lot of higher vocabulary in The Book of Three, and because it was a read aloud, he was able to understand the complexities of the story with my husband's explanations of words. Many times vocabulary is a barrier, which makes it too difficult for a child to read independently. They give up. My suggestion is reading aloud higher text, but if you can't do that, ask your child to highlight unknown words or confusing parts so that you can explain them later.

Developing readers may enjoy several genres, and that is the goal--to expand their scope, reading a variety of books. And a lot of books can be genre hybrids. But when it comes to finding a perfect book, your best bet is to match as closely as possible to the reader's innate interest. Once recreational reading habits are established, encourage branching off into a different genre. You could read the first few chapters aloud, ensuring the beginning plot is clearly understood. If she's reading Historical Fiction, take the time to research that period in history prior to reading. Research supports that the single activity that increases standardized test scores and determines success in all classes is reading. A child who reads 20 minutes per day is exposed to 1.8 million words per year and scores in the 90th percentile on standardized test. -Scholastic, 2019

I hope that your reader, no matter what age, finds that one life-changing book. The book that helps him look at the world differently, taking him on a journey that will forever be a part of him. Until then, keep searching. It's out there somewhere.

Bye for now and happy reading!


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