I was never sure I’d actually see my nine year old son pick up a book and read it with enjoyment. He struggles with two learning difficulties which make reading (and school) a little tricky.
The ever helpful and reassuring women at ‘The Children’s Bookshop’ here in Christchurch assured me that eventually he would read for pleasure, he just had to find the right book that would open the door for him. I tried the library, and was never really successful. It was the advice from the women at the bookshop that was really helpful – I’d tell them what I’d read to him and what he liked (and didn’t) and they would make recommendations. They were rarely wrong. And browsing and shopping their is a real pleasure so I’ll happily pop in when I’m going past. They have a good loyalty scheme where you buy 10 fiction paperbacks and get $15 off your next one.
Then, at the end of last year I was in The Children’s Bookshop browsing for inspiration and my son, out of the blue picked up a book from The Diary of the Wimpy Kid series and flicked a few pages and then asked if I could buy it for him. “YES!” I replied with unbridled enthusiasm. He’d finished it by the next day, and the day after that wanted to spend his pocket money on another one. Three months later he has the entire series, and DVDs (of course) and re-reads them. I never thought I’d see the day, but here we are.
My only concern, was, having read the entire series, where to from here? Tom Gates is a good series, though not loved as much by my son, he has devoured all the ‘Treehouse’ books by Andy Griffiths and ‘Fortunately the Milk’ by Neil Gaiman. On holiday he stumbled across my copies of the Harry Potter series, and enthralled by their covers asked me to read to him. We take turns now. Having no pictures (unlike the other books I’ve mentioned) he does struggle a bit, but the rip-roaring storyline keeps him hooked.
Here are a selection of books that I read aloud to him to foster his love of reading, until he had it for himself:
Roald Dahl – I started with ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’ in Year 1 and went on to read all of them to him
The Famous Five – after Mr Dahl we read pretty much all of the Famous Five books, then found the DVD series in the library…
Michael Morpurgo – we’ve read a selection of his books
Willard Price – excellent series for boys in a similar vein to Famous Five, we’ve read quite a few.
Anthony McGowan – modern day PC Willard Price where they save the animals rather than capturing them for zoos. There are two books available.
Bear Grylls – great adventure stories with survival tips (which I now have repeated to me at appropriate moments)
Red Rocks by Rachael King – NZ author and a beautifully written book
Felix and the Red Rats by James Norcliffe – NZ author and another beautifully written book with an enthralling storyline.
And these are the books that opened the door and hooked him into reading for himself:
The ‘Treehouse’ series by Andy Griffiths & Terry Denton – visually appealing with lots of funny drawings
The Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney – THIS is THE breakthrough book which threw wide the door and hooked him completely, don’t know why, but it did
The Brilliant World of Tom Gates – similar in style to the Diary of the Wimpy Kid series with drawings
Harry Potter series – need I say more?
If you’ve got a boy who hasn’t yet opened the door to reading for pleasure, I hope these suggestions might help. One day he’ll get there too….