Friday, June 5, 2009

Reading Beyond the Snuggle and Cuddle Stage

Those of us who have older sons or daughters know that there is a transition, a growth in relationship after our children reach the stage where they don't want to cuddle close and feel "too old" to have stories read to them. A part of me misses that with my 19 year old.

But for parents of kids 3rd grade through high school. here are surefire tips to keep reading on the front burner:

1) Know your child's passion and make sure there is plenty of stuff (books, magazines, internet, anything) to read on that subject available in or around your home.

2) Understand that if your child says "I don't like to read" it is a signal that the reading animal within them needs some feeding. It can also be an admission (hidden in a defense mechanism) that they recognize they aren't very good at it. If your child is a good reader, then it's a flag to find that book that will turn him/her on. Pay attention to those signals.

3) Be an example. If your child never sees you using reading "as a tool for life", then why should he want to spend any time doing it? It must not be very important.

4) Get them hooked! Do whatever it takes (manuals for Nintendo games, fake fingernail "how to"s, sports or speciality magazines, the Internet) to keep your kids reading regularly. They need a dose every day outside of what they must read for attempt to read for school.

Resources to help keep your older kids reading: - Improving Older Kids Speed and Comprehension - great ideas for Dads (yes, Dads) reading aloud with older offspring - Forbid your teen to do something and he/she is likely to want to. Reading "the forbidden" can give you and your child a unique opportunity to talk about choices and lifestyles. It's better than limiting them. - lower reading level books with high interest for older kids (from the Monroe County (IN) Public Library). - I've reviewed several of this publisher's books and find them all very engaging for good and struggling older readers. - one of the best public library sites for young and older kids in Charlotte, NC - great book reviews for kids, has areas devoted to middle and upper elementary. My article "Guided Reading At Home (Part II is best for parents of older readers) is available at

Don't forget to check out these great books for kids aged 10 and older:

The Desperado Who Stole Baseball by John H. Ritter
Deadline by Chris Crutcher
Jefficoe Road - by Melina Marchetta
Three Cups of Tea by Gre Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

Last ideas:

Pack books when you go to the beach, when you are traveling to the mountains, there is always down time. Substitute some TV time (not your child's favorite shows) with reading. One friend of mine had her kids "earn" TV or computer time by reading, but they could read ANYTHING they wanted. They had to show not only how many pages or minutes were read but give evidence that they did read (what was it about, details, what did you think, what did you learn, etc.) Great dinner conversation, especially if the parents have to follow the same rule!

Enjoy reading and discussing reading with your older children. It is guaranteed to keep you close! If you missed my interview with Allen Cardoza of (, you can listen to the podcast by the same name as this post at Just scroll down in the archive until you find the June 8th show.