Friday, January 10, 2014

Creating “readers for life” – it takes a village.

There’s a lot of pressure on kids’ book authors.  Why?  Because educators and other experts love to go on and on about the importance of early reading experiences in “creating” readers for life, or, worse (pressure-wise), transforming reluctant readers into eager ones.

And lots of them seem to think it’s our responsibility to hook the kids and reel them in.  “Your book ought to be SOooo compelling,” they say (or think!), “that even kids who don’t want to read it will have no choice, it’s that good.”

Now, I do believe that books are totally magical, but that’s an awfully high standard.

That’s an awful lot of pressure.

To take the pressure off, creating readers for life is a project that’s best assigned to a whole group of people, not just fobbed off on writers.  Who can help with this important job?

  • Parents
  • Teachers
  • Older siblings
  • Family friends
  • Librarians
  • … and yes, authors & illustrators

As you can see, it’s a package deal!  We all have to work together to create not only fantastic books but…

  • Warm, nurturing, fun early reading experiences
  • Quiet places to sit and enjoy books
  • Spare time to sit and enjoy books
  • Role models who spend time alone with books
  • An environment where books are accessible and easy to find
  • An assortment of reading experiences:  classics and new favourites, board books, picture books, chapters and yes, even good graphic novels.

It takes a village to raise a reader.

Here are two excellent books that can help give you some ideas about helping kids love reading FOR LIFE, written by two of the leading advocates for children’s literature in the B00HIVFIGUEnglish language today.  If you haven’t at least glanced through them already, you should.

These are the two most important that I can think of.  If you have other recommendations, I’d be thrilled to share them.

What are some of the other ingredients you can think of for creating “readers for life”?  What can writers do to make their book parts of this recipe for success?


  1. Thanks for your article!

    I agree with you many people and factors influence children's desires to read. Interactive reading not only impacts a child's impression of reading, but is also enjoyable to the model doing the reading with the child. When a parent, teacher, or sibling reads to a child and stops along the way to verbally discuss the pictures, plot, words that rhyme, predictions based on content already presented, both share a positive experience! Reading using different voices and appropriate expression also enhances this experience. Children want more of this fun time and seek to emulate your modeling of reading.

    Choice and interest are two major factors we all need to consider when trying to influence children to become life-long readers. As a K-12 Reading Specialist, I saw practices in reading classes that concerned me, and I believe influence middle school and high school students to view reading negatively. Forcing teacher favorite book choices on children can be detrimental since many books chosen for them are too difficult to read. Reading curriculum that bases grades on "reading targeted for points" is another frustration for struggling readers. Some good readers have little problems with this, but those children already like to read. Struggling readers feel trapped and defeated with both of these tactics. Create reading environments at home and at school where all readers can succeed and grow in reading abilities and each experience draws them back to books as a personal choice of their own. As a published author, interest is a major consideration for the middle-grade books I write.

  2. Welcome, and thanks so much for your intelligent and thoughtful comments. Good luck with your own books!
    Your link is a bit out of date - here's a free link for anyone who's curious about your writing: thehopebeacon.


As always, I love to hear from you.