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Are You Accidentally Increasing Reading Resistance?

by Tracie Grimes
Tracie is a monthly contributor to Kern County Family Magazine

The more kids read, the better their reading skills and grades are. We know this. Experts tell us this. But what can you do to encourage Junior to pick up a book?  Parents and teachers have been wrestling with this problem for generations. But sometimes in their zeal to get kids reading, parents and teachers resort to tactics that tend to do more harm than good. Here are a few strategies that may only increase a child’s resistance to reading:

Criticizing your child’s choices. Reading just about anything is better than not reading at all.  Even if your child is reading a book you think is too easy, fight the urge to make a comment and respect your child’s choices.

Nagging. Lecturing about the importance of reading and nagging him to pick up a book instead of playing basketball will only build resentment.

Setting goals that are unrealistic. Don’t expect Junior to finish a book in a day.  Praise him for reading, even if it’s only 10 minutes a day.

Looking to add some new titles to your home library? Consider these reads:

 AGES 3-5 

Captain Cat,
by Inga Moore, (Candlewick Press, 2013), $15.99.  The fez-wearing Captain Cat (named for his love of cats) may not have much business sense, but he sure knows how to find adventure!  His love of exploration is what takes the Captain, his sailors and a whole boatload of cats, to a mysterious island ruled by a spunky little frizzy-haired princess.  The remote island with its pristine beaches and swaying palm trees would be perfect except for one thing – it’s overrun by rats.  Once the Queen discovers that cats are fantastic at catching rats, she makes Captain Cat an offer:  all her treasure in exchange for the cats.  Is this an offer Captain Cat can’t refuse?  A fun adventure with a purr-fect ending.

 AGES 4-6 

Amy’s Three Best Things
, by Philippa Pearce, (Candlewick Press, 2013), $15.99.  Amy, who’s never spent even a single night away from home, suddenly decides she’s going to spend three nights with Grandma.  So she packs a bag, and off she goes. Everything is going well and Grandma and Abby are having a fantastic time, then bedtime rolls around.  It’s when Amy is alone in bed that she starts to miss her mother, baby brother and their dog, Bonzo.  It was a good thing Amy packed her three best things.  They calmed her homesickness in the most remarkable ways!  A charming tale about the comforts of home.

Cheese Belongs to You, by Alexis Deacon, (Candlewick Press, 2013), $15.99. Young readers will learn a thing or two about adjectives while reading this madcap tale of Rat Law.  The first law of rats says that cheese belongs to you if you’re a rat.  Except if a big rat wants it, cheese belongs to him. Unless a bigger rat wants it, or a quicker one, or a stronger one. And if a big, quick, strong, scary, hairy, dirty rat wants it, well . . . where does it end?

 AGES 5-7 

The Amazing Monty
, by Johanna Hurwitz, (Candlewick Press, 2013), $5.99.  Life was becoming unpredictable for six-year-old Monty both at school and at home.  And it all began when Monty read about a free pair of parakeets in need of a new owner. Instead of ending up at his house, Yankee and Doodle end up in his classroom. Then, after Monty’s tooth falls out, comes the sudden news that Monty will have a new brother or sister.   How will Monty react to a life that becomes so unpredictable?  A charming story about a first-grader who has to manage some pretty big changes in life.


Bugs: A Stunning Pop-Up Look at Insects, Spiders and Other Creepy Crawlies
, by George McGavin, (Candlewick Press, 2013), $19.99. Kids will learn about the amazing variety of arthropods as peculiar bugs spring from the pages, peek out from behind flaps, and hide under tabs. There’s a lot to learn about things like hibernation and bug habitats as pop-ups and panels bring useful information to life.  What insects can be found on people?  Why are bugs necessary?  A captivating, interactive journey into the hidden world of insects, spiders, and other creepy-crawlies.


Africa is my Home: A Child of the Amistad
, by Monica Edinger, (Candlewick Press, 2013), $17.99.  Based on the experiences of a real person, the story begins when a drought hits nine-year-old Magulu’s homeland in Sierra Leone, and her father pawns her in exchange for rice. Before she can work off her debt, Magulu is sold off to slave traders and taken aboard the Amistad.  Though the book is told by a fictional character, it tells the true story of the famous mutiny aboard the ship and the trial that follows and goes all the way to the Supreme Court.  Archival clippings, maps, letters and engravings illustrate the book while the story is told in the first-person voice of Magulu.  An intriguing account that has readers following the life of Magulu from the age of nine to adulthood when she returns to her beloved homeland to teach.


Porch Lights
, by Dorothea Benton Frank, (HarperCollins Publishers), $14.99.  The healing powers of home come to life in this heartwarming story of grief and healing.  Jackie McMullen, an Army nurse who’s served mostly in Afghanistan, suddenly becomes a single parent when her husband Jimmy, a firefighter, is killed in the line of duty.  Overwhelmed by grief, Jackie and her 10-year-old son Charlie leave Brooklyn and all their memories to spend the summer at Jackie’s childhood home on the South Carolina coast.  Little did they know they’d not only find the healing they needed, Jackie and Charlie would bring healing to Jackie’s estranged parents, Annie and Buster Britt.

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Tags: Education, Enrichment, Featured Story, Parenting

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