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Talk to your kids about reading, find out what they like

By Pam Everhardt Bloom

Rowan Public Library

How do you teach a child to read for the pure enjoyment of reading? Research abounds and Rowan Public Library definitely provides books and articles addressing this question. That said; don’t overlook the power of conversation and observation during your next visit to your local library.

Whether chatting with staff or fellow patrons for suggestions, anecdotal evidence is plentiful and willingly shared. A random sampling of library staff, adults who tend to be active adult readers, invoked many common threads. Their answers to, “Did you read as a child?” were revealing and may be helpful when encouraging a love of reading.

Of those who did not enjoy reading as a child, being outside and playing often took preference over books. Upon further reflection, some mentioned that there weren’t books at home, that they weren’t taken to a library, or that reading was just hard and not fun. When asked what changed them into readers, it was often discovering and reading a book they picked out on their own. For some it happened as early as third grade, for others, it came with the freedom to make their own choices outside of school as adult readers.

That brings us to a common thread among staff — the ability to choose a book to delight and enjoy based on no needs other than personal ones, no matter the age.

Interestingly, many of those who were voracious readers as children grew up in houses with many books to choose from, had family subscriptions to book clubs/magazines/newspapers that arrived regularly or visited a library frequently. Choice was easily available.

Award winning author Kwame Alexander (Newbery Medal, “The Crossover”) has a philosophy about the need for children to select the books they want to read. In a recent National Public Radio “Here and Now” podcast on June 28, Alexander said, “Books are like amusement parks, and sometimes you’ve got to let kids choose the rides.”

Saying that, he also addressed the need to guide children, “You want kids to get excited and engage with books? Give them a book that they want to read. Give them a book that they think is going to be awesome. Allow the literature to be a bridge to get them to appreciate all the books that you want. But it has to start with their imagination, their excitement …”

Those of us at Rowan Public Library often see that match between readers and books happen. Some recent book selections for older juveniles that are also enjoyable for adult reading include: “Armstrong and Charlie,” by Steven Frank; “The Ethan I was Before,” by Ali Standish; “As Brave as You,” by Jason Reynolds; “Things Too Huge to Fix by Saying Sorry,” by Susan Vaught; “The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones,” by Wendelin Van Draanen; and “A Month of Mondays,” by Joelle Anthony.

Two new mysteries, “The Devlin Quick Mysteries — Into the Lion’s Den,” by Linda Fairstein, and “Walls Within Walls,” by Maureen Sherry, may make your heart beat a bit faster; always a good recipe for a book.

Visit Rowan Public Library and experience the magic of choice for the child in your life and the kid in you. This gift of time to browse and select personal favorites may become the jumpstart to a lifelong love of reading.

Programs for children and teens on hiatus in August.

Adult Summer Reading: Monday, Aug. 7, 6:30 p.m., headquarters, Water Smart — Rowan County Cooperative Extension Service agent Danélle Cutting discusses how to  conserve water and care for the earth locally. At this final event, Adult Summer Reading grand prizes will also be awarded.

Summer reading film series: “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” East, July 31, 5:30 p.m. PG, 101 minutes. Also at headquarters, 6:30 p.m. Aug. 1 and 10 a.m. Aug. 4. Free, open to the public, all ages welcome; an adult must accompany children under 9. Free popcorn and lemonade.

• “Hidden Figures,” rated PG, with a run time of two hours and 6 minutes. Aug. 2, 2 and 6 p.m., South Rowan Regional Library, China Grove. Also 5:30 p.m., Aug. 7, East branch, Rockwell. Free, open to the public, all ages welcome; an adult must accompany children under 9. Free popcorn and lemonade.

Displays: Headquarters, Communities in Schools and Anime Club; East, Glenda Hunsucker photography; South, golden bobbins textile display.

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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