Finding the Enthusiastic Reader in Your Reluctant Reader

After fellow teacher librarian @SJbetteridge shared on Twitter today that she has started blogging at The Bookmarking Librarian, I came back to re-visit my neglected blog here. I found this blog post in Drafts that I had written back on May 4th!!  My excuse – it was a busy Term 2 and I tend to put my blogging energy into our school library blog.  I’ll try to be more consistent this term….

Might I say that something very exciting for our school happened after attending this event, but I can’t blog about that until August 12…

What a treat to attend the Finding the Enthusiastic Reader in Your Reluctant Reader evening offered by The Kids’ Bookshop last Thursday evening. It was such a valuable opportunity to listen to three highly respected and popular children’s authors – Sally Rippin, Felice Arena (@Fleech) and Michael Wagner (@wagstheauthor).

The Kids’ Bookshop began with some great tips for reluctant readers…

  • Let reluctant readers choose their books – encourage and empower them to read all types of material not just books
  • Tap into a reluctant reader’s interests – sport, music, lego, art, etc
  • Book tie-in to films are a great lure for reluctant readers
  • Graphic novels are great for visual readers, especially older reluctant readers
  • Series based books make it easier to choose books – just choose the next one! Series also keep the momentum going for a reader
  • The bind up strategy is a great idea for reluctant readers – all books together in a BIG book. Sense of achievement
  • Develop readers beyond the reading experience – websites, blogs, author visits

The authors then shared valuable thoughts about reading and how they go about writing for reluctant readers in their books…

Felice Arena

  • Use an authentic voice and don’t talk down to the reader
  • The importance of the reader ‘connecting’ with the book e. Garry Lyon helped “footy-ise” Specky Magee by providing the footy facts kids like to read
  • Take the story off the page and bring books to life for you students using drama, book trailers, hashtags in Twitter about the book your class is reading etc
  • Make the reluctant reader a participant reader – involve them in dramatising the text
  • It’s not just the reluctant reader but what about the ‘distracted’ reader? Multi-tasking while reading and not in the moment

Michael Wagner

  • As a writer you need to know what age you are inside – Michael is 10, Felice is 12 and Sally is 6. Their books reflect these ages
  • When writing for boys be gritty not pretty, be witty, use sharp economical prose, write with intensity eg humour
  • Maxx Rumble is his unconscious homage to Asterix that he loved as a kid – the puns and plays on words (Felice is the same in Farticus Maximus)
  • The importance of screen-free time for kids to nurture creativity

Sally Rippin

  • Billie B Brown is her rambunctious side and Jack is her quieter side. The ‘Hey Jack!’ books allow boys to explore their emotions
  • Sally uses Dr Suess and Richard Scarry as models for her books – how to draw the child in and connect with them
  • The importance of reading with your child and the bond you share
  • Reading to your child is a gift you can give to them
  • Don’t lose the oral tradition of storytelling – so powerful! See Sally’s “Story Peddlers” initiative bringing back the art of the roving storyteller with pop-up performances on a bike!

The new insights I have gained into these particular authors and their books are invaluable. They empower me in my role as a teacher librarian to help connect our readers to books that are the ‘right’ book for them to help them on their journey to become lifelong readers.

It was also a delight to meet both Felice and Michael face to face and not be limited to the 140 characters we often converse in on Twitter.