When my oldest son was about 9 or 10, I knew there were some great books on my shelf that I wanted him to read. These were books that I had read as a kid, or that I had read to my class when I was a 4th grade teacher. Of course, it’s not near as much fun to read a book your MOM recommends. She’s so, uh, totally uncool.
So I made him a deal. I would read him the first chapter aloud, and if he liked the book, he could keep reading it on his own, and I’d pop in every few days to read another chapter to him aloud, if he wanted. If he hated that first chapter and didn’t care one bit about what happened next in that story, then back to the shelf it went. I promised I wouldn’t mention it again.
Well, let’s just say this method got just the result I was looking for. We ended up starting several novels together, me reading chapter one, and him continuing to read most of the remainder of the book on his own. Sometimes he’d read quickly enough that I’d come back to read a chapter and he’d already be finished with the book.
Some of the books we read this way included From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler – a book for any kid who has ever thought they might just like to run away from home and live somewhere else for a while, Where the Red Fern Grows – classic coming of age tale of stoicism and survival, Hatchet – another story of a young man who has to be resourceful in the wild to survive, and The Cricket in Times Square – a fun story of a talking bunch of animals who help save an immigrant family’s business.
If you have a reluctant reader at home, or just want to encourage your kids to read some books you know are gems, you might try this technique. You both might end up enjoying the process.