Revving Up Your Reluctant Reader

Local authors share their ideas on how to light the literary fire under your young ones.

For avid readers, picking up a book is like meeting a new friend. But for some children, the mere idea of reading is as foreign to them as flying to Mars. As a parent, you probably feel obligated to give your kids’ brains a tune-up before school begins next month. But where do you start if your child is resistant?

“Kids who equate reading with schoolwork are apt to turn off books for the summer,” says author Barbara Dee, a founder and one of the directors of the Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival, whose latest book, Halfway Normal, will launch at the festival on October 14. “The best thing a parent can do to is to allow kids to make their own choices — to read for pleasure, even if that means reading ‘down’ a level, or picking up a graphic novel.”

Here is what other local authors had to say:

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Emily Arnold McCully

“The first step is to establish time when no one is allowed to be on a device. Next, set a family story hour every week (or even every day). A family book club would mean choosing the books together, if the children are old enough. When parents are readers, so are their children. Every child should have a shelf of books in her or his room. Collecting them can be a reward for helping out, or just for being a great kid.”

McCully is the winner of the Caldecott Award for Mirette on the High Wire. She’s lived in Austerlitz since 1982.

Susanna Reich

“Just because your child can read on their own doesn’t mean they don’t still want to cuddle up and be read to. No one is too old for picture books. They are published for a variety of ageranges, and the pairing of words and images continues to help develop literacy, even in the upper elementary years.”

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Reich’s latest book, Stand Up and Sing! Pete Seeger, Folk Music and the Path to Justice, has been named a Junior Library Guild Selection.  She lives in Ossining with her husband, Gary Golio, an artist and children’s book author.

Nick Bruel

“If your child reads a book, read the same book. Discussing it afterwards will give a richness to the experience for both of you that might not have existed otherwise. Plus, you’ll discover that even the simplest of children’s books can have a sophistication that might surprise you.”

Bruel is the author of the popular Bad Kitty series. In 2016, the School Library Media Specialists in Southeastern NY (SLMSSENY) awarded him the Rip Van Winkle Award. He lives in Briarcliff Manor.

Jennifer Castle

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“Encourage your child to explore a variety of genres beyond straight-up fiction. Non-fiction is a great way to reconnect with books, especially if you can find something that really resonates with a kid. If you can, find out what your child’s friends have been reading. ‘Peer pressure’ can work in a positive way.”

Jennifer Castle, of New Paltz, is the author of The Beginning Of After (2012 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults) and You Look Different In Real Life (2015 Florida Teens Read). Her Butterfly Wishes series comes out in December.

Save the Date: Children’s Book Festivals

Warwick Children’s Book Festival

Saturday, October 7, 11 a.m.–4 p.m., outdoors on Railroad Ave, Warwick (rain location: Warwick Valley Middle School – 225 West St)

Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival
Saturday, October 14, 10 a.m.–4 p.m., Bell Middle School, downtown Chappaqua, rain or shine

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