July 17, 2008

Reading Rescue

Ever since he learned to read, Collin has been an avid reader. He will read anything he can get his hands on... even the Wall Street Journal (the only newspaper we get in our home)... and he will talk to me about the articles. "Mom, I read in the WSJ that....."

He began reading the Friend magazine so quickly that he was turning to the Ensign (at 6 years old). I finally subscribed to the New Era for him (he's 9). He blows through that... and then reads the Ensign.

As much as he loves to read fiction, he loves non-fiction. I think he has read every non-fiction book in the school library, or least all the ones on science and World War II (his favorite topics). Although he seems to be branching out; when we went the library last week, he chose a book called "Arizona Historical Land."

I have always had a hard time pulling Collin away from a book when he is supposed to be doing something else. He gets so caught up in books that he completely loses track of time.

Then there is Mary (6). She is a good reader... or I should say "she reads well." She reads dutifully every day for exactly the required amount of time. And that is it. She doesn't get excited to read, and she doesn't ever want to read for fun. Is there something wrong with her?

I have been thinking that she just hasn't found anything she loves to read. At her age, Collin had read every "Magic Tree House" book and loved them (especially the historical parts). He would read a book in one sitting. Mary reads one chapter and puts it away. "Mary, don't you like it?" "Sure I do." "Is it exciting?" "Yes." "Don't you want to find out what happens?" "Tomorrow. I want to go play."

I found some adaptations of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books that she started on (I thought the originals were probably too daunting for a 6 year old). Same story. There have been other books here and there, but nothing has stuck. Her 1st grade teacher read "The Box Car Children" to the class, so I tried to get her to read more of those, but she said she wasn't interested. Huh?

I took the kids to Barnes & Noble yesterday to get forms for their summer reading program (free books anyone?), and told them I would buy each of them a book (which had to be approved by me). This was a rare treat, since we usually just check them out from the library. But I wanted Mary to have a reason to get excited about reading.

Collin got "Johnny Tremain." (One of my favorite books at his age!) Jack picked a little book on how to draw Pokemon characters, which I finally agreed to since he can't read yet. (We have way too many picture books anyway, and he has already moved on to chapter books... I'm reading "James and Giant Peach" to him currently.) And Mary? Well, I spent at least 30 minutes with her trying to find something she wanted. I made suggestion after suggestion and she kept saying she wasn't interested. Nothing I said would convince her these were books she would enjoy. She did like the Ramona Quimby books, so I suggested other books by Beverly Clearly, but she still said no.

I finally gave up, so Mary didn't get a book. She was all upset, but so was I!!!

So, I need your help. Please give me your book recommendations for 7 year old girls... something that will develop Mary's love of reading. (Please no adaptations of TV shows!)


  1. What movies does she like? Does she like adventure or princesses?

    Some books she may like:
    The Ordinary Princess (M M Kaye) - try to find one with the author's illustrations - it's lovely.
    Dealing with Dragons - I'm still reading this, it's very charming.

    Also, I LOVED the Wizard of Oz books. There are a gazillion of them.

  2. Also, I found this:


  3. Among my brothers and sisters, and among my own children, there have been some who have been avid readers from the beginning, and others who have come to it later in life, which means anytime after the first flush of literacy to age 40+. So if she's more focused on other things, don't despair. Train up a child, and in her own due time, she'll find her way to reading, if reading is modeled as a positive behavior around her (and I know it is).

    It is also possible that at some level, conscious or otherwise, she thinks of reading as Colin's thing. Or that she can never keep up with him, so why try?

    I think you're doing exactly the right thing. Make sure she keeps reading, but don't make her feel like it has to be her favorite thing in the world like it is for Colin. Keep introducing various kinds of books--fiction, nonfiction, beautiful artwork or fine photography--and play to her interests when you can.

    But at the end of the day, she may be more focused on other talents and interests.

  4. Karren, thanks for your suggestions!

    Gayle, thanks for your advice and reassurance! You are exactly right.

  5. We have the EXACT same problem in our house! Emma has liked Ivy and Bean (by Barrows), and Clementine books (by Pennypacker). She's also enjoyed some of the American Girl books. However, Emma some of the A.G. books were just a little challenging for Emma, but I don't know what level Mary is at.

    Oh, also Deseret Book sells a series called Classic Starts. They are abridged versions of Classics such as Anne of G.G., and Secret Garden, etc. I don't know if you can get them in AZ or online, but I think they are only $3 a book.

    I'll be checking the comments to see what others have suggested. :)

  6. Becka1:26 PM

    you dont know me but I am a old friend of your sister Diane I came upon your blog from another blog I was on. My name is Becka I have a daughter who loves to read and when she was your daugthers age she loved the Babysitter Club books. She is 11 now and still enjoys reading those books over again. Just wanted to add my 2 cents and would love to get in touch with Diane. I dont blog so I guess I am a blog luker. My email is mamabecka@hotmail.com if there was anyway you could get this info to her I would be very greatful. I havent seen her in years but would love to get in touch. Thanks and I hope all goes well with the reading.

  7. Hi Becka. I will pass your info along to Diane. Thanks for the suggestions.

  8. Laura, Good idea! I hadn't thought of getting abridged/adaptations of other classics. (I should have, considering I did for the Little House books.) Thanks!

  9. I'm with Gayle. I didn't read until 3rd grade and wasn't an avid reader until college and everything turned out all right.

    Isn't it challenging to have kids with different interests than yourself? It's killing me with my kids.

  10. You said it Eldon!

  11. Anonymous7:16 AM

    Junie B. Jones series
    Amelia Bedelia
    Judy Moody series
    American Girl series
    Betsy Tacy series (the first few books - the last books in the set are young adult-ish)

    My younger sister HATED to read, until we bought her a "Choose-your-own-adventure" type book (where you decide what page and in which direction you are going in the book.) After that, she became an avid reader!

  12. It may be a little advanced... but your kids just have to read Kate DiCamillo: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is my absolute favorite. Also The Tales of Desperaux (to be released as an animated film in December). Because of WInn Dixie and Tiger Rising are ok... the others are MUSTS!

  13. when I was her age I absolutely adored the A to Z mystery books. They were so enthralling and I was always reaching for the next the second i was done with one.
    I don't kow if this is above her level, but I loved The BFG by Roald Dahl. I also liked the Miss Piggly Wiggly books. They are hilarious for a child her age.

  14. Also tell Collin that I said to read the Pendragon books by D.J. MacHale. They are my absolute favorite books (excluding Twilight, New Moon, and Eclipse)

  15. Hi Alice,

    My daughter Hailey started a book club for her friends. They make treats, meet once a month when possible and discuss their books. I like it because it has introduced Hailey to books she might not other wise have chosen to read. (She started the club when she was 7).

  16. I was going to suggest Mrs. Piggle Wiggle...my eight year old loves them. A suggestion for you..a book I have found invaluable is called Honey for a Child's heart. It gives great suggestions for books for your children. My eight year old daughter also has a book club...it has cemented her love of books.

    If your son likes historical fiction, both my 11 year old and 8 year old could not put down Number the Stars.

    Good Luck!

  17. I was going to make the same suggestion as Victoria. My son loves the A-Z Mysteries by Ron Roy. He flies through them, can't wait to get the next one and is almost to the end (working on "X"). Good luck! My boys sound similar. The eldest enjoys reading and is often working on several books at once. The youngest one can't read well yet, but even when I offer to snuggle up and read to him, he would much rather be doing something else.


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