Unlocking the Reader Within You

I’ve got twin boys, Charlie and Xander. Obviously, since I’m a writer, I love to read. I’ve always loved to read. So when my kids were little, I thought, “Of course they’ll love to read, too!” I thought a kid’s interest in reading was a direct result of their parent reading to them. Um, no. At least, not with Charlie.

Xander’s interest in reading naturally evolved into a personal activity. He was choosing his own books and reading on his own from a pretty young age. Charlie, though . . . *sigh*. Not so much.

I struggled to interest Charlie in reading for years. YEARS. I bought books, I borrowed books, I tried to offer incentives, I tried making it “homework”. Nothing worked!

Reading is so important. Personally, I wondered how can a person survive in life without the escape/wonderment/joy that books can bring. As an adult, I also understood that reading plays a part in virtually everything in life. Being a good reader is not just for enjoyment, it’s essential to life success.

But … Ah! How could I get this guy to read, already!?

When Charlie was twelve, a new library opened in our town, so we went to the grand opening. I told the boys they could check out whatever book they wanted. Xan was reading big middle grade books like Harry Potter and Fablehaven, but Charlie gravitated to the Young Adult section. I was nervous about that. I wasn’t sure he was ready to handle a lot of the older themes present in so many Young Adult books.

But I decided to keep my mom-mouth shut and promised myself to stay out of his way so he could find a book he was interested in and (please-oh-please) actually READ IT.

He chose a zombie book.

The Zombies of Lake Woebegotten by Harrison Geillor

I quickly did some research and was relieved to discover that Garrison Keillor, using a pen name, was the author of this work and I knew something about him. I don’t know if it would have mattered what I discovered, though–Charlie had chosen a book that he wanted to read. I was determined to keep myself out of it!

Now Charlie is a consistent reader. His SRI scores have increased tremendously, but maybe even more important to me as a mom/reader/writer is that Charlie has found joy in stories.

So if you’re a mom desperate to get your kid into reading, or a kid wondering if you’ll ever be able to join the reading masses, hang in there. Take yourself to the library and spend some time in whatever section appeals to you–NOT the section your friends/mother/enemy says you should be in. There’re no rules as to what makes for good reading material–just read.

And … enjoy!


Alex 1 (2)Alex Banks likes to say she holds a black belt in awesome since the only kind of kicking-butt she does is on paper. She lives in Utah with her kickin’ husband, two sparring sons, one ninja cat, one samurai dog and four zen turtles.

Alex writes Young Adult and New Adult fiction (suitable for readers over fourteen) under the name Ali Cross.

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6 thoughts on “Unlocking the Reader Within You

  1. Sounds like my kids! My older one always loved reading, my younger one mostly liked being read to. But then she discovered the world of Divergent (at just shy of 12 years old, yes, mom was reluctant), devoured the whole series and moved on to Fault in Our Stars which she is now reading for the second time. Finding the right book for each kid can be challenging.

  2. The power of choice is an amazing thing. Giving it to our kids can be hard for parents, but we have to look at the bigger picture. Is it more important that our kids read, or that they read what we want? Great post!

  3. I do set age limits for certain books (Harry Potter, age 12; Hunger Games, age 14, etc.), but for the most part, it’s all about them just finding something they like. Not that that always fires my boys up, either. Reading is plain hard for some kids. But we’re trying.

    Your bios always make me smile, Ali.

  4. I feel the pain–as an author, book worm, and mom who read with my kids at least some during their formative learning years–I ask myself “How can I possible have a kid who doesn’t like to read?” But I have a couple and your strategies are good ones. I had a daughter who struggled to read until she found the Junie B. Jones books– now she is the most voracious reader I have as an adult. It’s so much fun to see the light bulb of adventure and wonder click in your kids’ minds. Thanks for the reminder. 🙂

  5. Great post, Ali, and great advice! I cringe when I think way back and remember some of the stuff I read as a young teen (and DEFINITELY shouldn’t have). But I read – alot – and finally discovered that books are a wonder. I still love reading to my kids, too, and they seem to like that.

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