If not for Laura Ingalls Wilder and Carolyn Keene, would I have become such an avid reader? I don’t know. But my memories of books as a young girl include hours delving into the lives of Laura in the Little House series and Girl Detective in the Nancy Drew series. It was finding topics I liked and characters I could identify with that opened me up to the worlds that an author’s words create.
Whenever I hear a kid say that he doesn’t like reading, I think, “You just haven’t figured out what you like to read yet!” Everyone agrees that the key to making a reader out of anybody is finding an author, a topic, or a genre that they enjoy. If the successes of J.K. Rowling and Stephanie Meyer have proved anything, it’s that kids and teens still enjoy reading if you give them something they like!
Frankly, this is true with adults as well. Sometimes, we think a reader is a person who picks up classic literature, current bestsellers, or book club selections. But people who visit bookstores (or download titles onto their ebook reader) might enjoy graphic novels, cookbooks, magazines, online newspapers, self-help books, thrillers, or romances. The important thing is to get people reading!
We all started somewhere – often with a Dr. Seuss book or an Archie comic in hand.
A few of my own suggestions for getting kids to read these days:
Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park (ages 4-8) – I admit to never having read a single Junie B. Jones book. But I enjoy this author, and this series comes highly recommended by many of my friends with daughters.
The Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne (ages 9-12) – I volunteered in my kids’ school library for two years, and these books were checked out all the time. They are quick reads, but the author takes children through history in a fun way.
Clementine series by Sara Pennypacker (ages 9-12) – I fell in love with Clementine on page 1. She’s a spunky elementary girl with excess energy, creative thinking, and a few stories to tell.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney (ages 9-12) – A combination of text and pictures, these books chronicle the life of a wimpy kid whose experiences are easily understood by most children.
The Time Warp Trio series by Jon Scieszka (ages 9-12) – Boys in particular will love the adventures of three time-traveling friends and their humor. Let’s just say that the first book includes a giant with giant-sized snot.
Lawn Boy by Gary Paulsen (ages 9-12) – This is the hilarious tale of a young boy just trying to make a little extra money and finding himself an illustrious entrepreneur.
Piper Reed series by Kimberly Willis Holt (ages 9-12) – Both girls and boys will love this daughter of a Navy officer with two sisters, a dog, and a fresh perspective on childhood.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan (ages 9-12) – Greek mythology can seem dull to most kids, until you read Riordan’s retelling of the Greek myths with teens as demigods. Then hold on for the fantastic ride!
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling (ages 9 & up) – Yes, I would still recommend this series to any child who hasn’t read it. I love how the author weaves the average challenges that all kids face in school with a wizarding world and the fight of good vs. evil.
Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins (ages 12 & up) – Tweens, teens, and adults will find these dystopian books to be page-turners. Collins creates an intriguing world and has us rooting for the main characters from the beginning and throughout.
What books got you reading as a child or an adult? What books or series would you suggest to non-readers to get them hooked on reading?