Picky reader? Let your child try nonfiction or biography

  • Posted: Sunday, July 13, 2014 12:01 a.m.

What constitutes reading? How do you find that perfect book for a child’s interests? With summer reading in full swing, it’s a relevant question.

To many children and their parents, reading involves a beautifully illustrated picture book or chapter book. These criteria can easily provide hours of happy reading, yet they can also be a constraint. This summer might be the time to open new doors of possibility in reading material for your child.


Consider asking this question the next time you visit the library with a child: “Do you like stories or do you like facts?” I’ve often heard children complain that they want to learn something when they read. These aren’t the children that are going to be happy with any good chapter book. It’s either branch into the non-fiction area of their specific interests or, if the requirement is a chapter book for school, consider historical fiction or a biography. Choices are endless.

Love knights? Non-fiction selections might include “You Wouldn’t Want to be a Medieval Knight!: Armor You’d Rather Not Wear,” by Fiona MacDonald, or “Sweaty Suits of Armor: Could You Survive Being a Knight?” by Chana Stiefel. Both of these selections provide a touch of humor with facts to satisfy.

From the historical fiction genre, “Joust of Honor, a Knight’s Story,” by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell, takes the reader back to medieval days of squires, lords and ladies while Clyde Robert Bulla adds a twist to the days of King Arthur with “The Sword in the Tree.” The four books above contain great illustrations to accompany a taste of history.

A biography of William the Conqueror might also please a non-fiction lover and “Life as a Knight: an Interactive History Adventure” by Rachael Hanel, while non-fiction, provides action and adventure equal to any chapter book.

Have a reluctant reader or a child who is determined to read books beyond their current reading level? To avoid placing limits on their interests with cries of “too thick” or “too long,” books on CD provide another avenue to reading. Try playing the beginning of Gary Paulson’s “Hatchet” in the car and turning it off at an exciting part. Leave the book lying around the house and don’t say a word. You might be surprised.

The right book can be a powerful draw. CD books can also avoid an argument with the child who is determined to read books beyond his or her current reading level and refuses to read with someone looking over his or her shoulder. Again, grab the CD of the desired book and options open for these single-minded readers. Alternate between reading a chapter and listening to a chapter or simply listen and follow the words. In addition, children who read well above grade level can also benefit from CD books.

As children begin reading harder books, writing styles can become more complicated. Listening to a book may help them transition to a novel that isn’t quite as linear as many of the early chapter books they’ve been reading. Try “The Beasts of Clawstone Castle” by Eva Ibbotson for a literary feast of words.

Technical reading is another genre often ignored. It’s still reading. Have a budding artist? “Junk Drawer Jewelry” by Rachel Di Salle and Ellen Warwick or “The Duct Tape Book: 25 Projects to Make with Duct Tape” by Jolie Dobson will keep them reading and busy for hours. A favorite for your resident engineer might be David Macaulay’s “New Way Things Work.”

For your jokesters and pre-teens, try “The Encyclopedia of Immaturity” by the editors of Klutz or “The Big Book of Girl Stuff” by Bart King (and his five sisters). The right prank or learning how to deal with mean girls can demand close attention to detail.

If none of the above rings true for your family and you have a discouraged reader, think twice about how much time you allow for selection of books within the library. Choosing the right book can take some deliberation, particularly when surrounded by thousands. A large library can be overwhelming to children and the simple gift of time and your friendly librarian might be what your child needs to find that perfect book to launch a lifetime of reading.

Summer movie series — The library offers movie night every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at RPL headquarters in Salisbury and at South Rowan Regional at 2 p.m. Wednesdays. Movies are free and all ages are welcome. Children should be accompanied by an adult. Free popcorn and lemonade.

At headquarters: this Tuesday, “Zathura: A Space Adventure” (PG); July 22, “Timeline” (PG13); July 29, “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” (PG).

At South Regional (China Grove): this Wednesday, “Zathura: A Space Adventure” (PG); July 23, “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” (PG); July 30, “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow” (PG).

Summer reading for children — The library invites children to celebrate science and reading with Fizz, Boom, Read. Reading hours may be tracked now. Prizes for every 5, 10, 15 and 20 hours read with door prizes given at the school-aged programs.

Weekly programs run until July 31. RPL staff will be on hand to entertain the youngest participants and professional performers will help captivate the school-age children. Family programs will again be offered at Cleveland Town Hall and reading hours can be tracked there at the time of the program.

This week’s program is Bright Star Theatre, Professor Parsnip’s Lab of Healthy Choices. For a complete schedule of programs, go to the library website, www.rowanpubliclibrary.org or call your closest location: Headquarters, 704-216-8234; South, 704-216-7728; East, 704-216-7842.

Teen summer reading: Teens may participate in Spark a Reaction where they will explore science through programs and reading. Through July 31, all rising sixth-graders to 12th-graders are invited to participate. Programs will be held 3:30-5 p.m. on Tuesdays, Headquarters; Wednesdays, East Branch, Rockwell; Thursdays, South Rowan Regional, China Grove. This week’s program is All Bottled Up: Crafts that all come in a bottle. Every teen who registers receives a booklet for keeping track of the library dollars they earn. Those dollars will be used to enter raffles for prizes provided by the Friends of RPL and other local sponsors. Winners will be announced at the end of the summer Blow Out Blast at South Rowan Regional on July 31, 3:30–5 p.m.

Approaching Star Trek: Headquarters: July 21, 6:30 p.m.; South Regional, July 22, 6:30 p.m. What are we learning about life here on Earth? What are we learning about our universe? Is life “out there” really possible? This workshop will be led by Jack Howard, a physics and astronomy instructor at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College. His first work in astronomy was variable star research at Kitt Peak National Observatory, and he has a master’s degree in astronomy from James Cook University. For more details visit www.rowanpublilibrary.org and click on the Events for Adults tab.

Book Bites Club: South Regional (only), July 29, 6:30 p.m., “The Help,” by Kathryn Stockett. Book discussion groups for adults and children meet the last Tuesday of each month. The group is open to the public and anyone is free to join at any time. There is a discussion of the book, as well as light refreshments at each meeting. For more information, please call 704-216-8229.

Displays for July: headquarters, doll society; South, Rowan Doll Society by Gayle Hansen; East, flowers by Helen Holland.

Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.

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