Thursday, February 16, 2012

Reading Is An Adventure and the Positive Power of Peer Pressure

"Mom, this book was so good I felt like I was going on the adventure!"  Well, that statement which came out of my six-year-old's mouth was a far cry from her "I'm starting to hate reading these books!" of just a week earlier.  The difference?  The books in question, of course - and their source.

The first sentence - the one that every parent and book-lover wants to hear - was said when my daughter finished reading, by herself, the first book in the Magic Ballerina series. The book had been not only recommended to her but actually loaned to her by a friend.  Twenty-four hours after giving her the book, the little girl was so anxious to know what my daughter thought, she called and left a message: "Have you finished the book yet?  Do you like it?"  My daughter, who had not even started the book, promptly took it to bed with her, whereupon she read it in its entirety before going to sleep.  The series, by well-known dancer Darcy Bussell, is not going to win any literary awards.  But it goes a long way toward filling that huge empty spot on the bookshelf between Henry and Mudge and, true middle grade fiction like say, The Year of the Dog or Ramona.  The books are short (90 pages but with some illustrations and moderately large print) and extremely fast-paced with cliffhanger endings to each chapter (think The Da Vinci Code).  So literary merit aside, this book - and the fact that it was recommended by a friend - got my daughter excited about reading.  In my book (pun intended), that's the most important thing a book can do.

What books got your reluctant (or not-so-reluctant) child excited about reading?  How did he or she come across them?


  1. I'll have to check those out! Sounds like something my daughter would love. :)

  2. Roald Dahl hooked my youngest, which is good because he goes from easy reading books (Esio Trot, in his case) up through subtle stuff like Danny, Champion of the World, and they are great read alouds so you can share read with enthusiasm.

    My oldest grabbed a series off my shelves when he was seven and a late reader, and then devoured them and hasn't stopped reading yet. They were SF books and had some adult content and curse words, so I felt very odd watching him read them, but HE WAS READING and I couldn't bring myself to stop him. (Wen Spencer's Ukiah Oregon books, if you are wondering. )

    We used to take turns picking the chapter book I read aloud, and so I plowed through a few Pokemon adventure tales, which again are not going to win any literature awards, but then again the names of the Pokemon were one of the few things that would make that boy read phonetically (he's still 90% a sight reader, but hey, it works for him except for spelling tests).