Reading for Pleasure – What are Your Kid’s Favorite Books?

Kelly Curtis - Professional speaker, writer and counselor*** Monthly Feature Column ***

Positively Speaking
Building Assets in your Kids

by Kelly Curtis, M.S., author of Empowering Youth: How to Encourage Young Leaders to Do Great Things.

Summer is a great time to explore the library and find new reading materials your kids haven’t discovered before.

Search Institute has identified Reading for Pleasure as one of the 40 Developmental Assets. Research shows these are characteristics of healthy, caring, resilient kids. The more assets youth have, the more likely they’ll resist risky behaviors in the future.

For some children, books are a portal to a new world of adventure — they can’t imagine a life without them. For others, though, they haven’t yet “caught the bug” and it becomes a struggle to get them to read anything. There are many ways to engage young readers into the world of books.


Read to your kids when they’re young
– and continue reading aloud even when they’re able to read to themselves. If they discover a love for books early on, they’ll probably want to continue feeding their imaginations.

Tell stories to your children – The stories can be imaginary, “Once upon a time” stories, or an oral history of your family. Dr. Alice Wilder, a founder of Think It Ink It Publishing, suggests encourage your children to tell or write stories as well – it encourages creativity and often makes them look for more stories, as told in books.

Carve out established reading time– whether silent or aloud can create a habit that kids will want to maintain. It only needs to be a few minutes at a time, and can be whenever it works for your family — before bed, in the car, or on the deck. Make it fun!

Help your kids choose the right books and keep an open mind– keep looking until you find the right fit. Boys often enjoy learning facts before they find out they like the mysteries too. Remember non-fiction, in the form of how-to, full-color almanacs, and magazines. Also, while some parents and teachers frown on book series with poor-grammar dialogue or mischievous characters, I know many kids who discovered their love for reading with Junie B. Jones — one of the the naughtiest, most grammatically-incorrect first-graders I know.

Be a reader yourself – Whether you most enjoy reading Woman’s Day, Grisham novels, or Weblogs, make it clear to your kids that you read often and enjoy it a lot. Like everything else you do, your kids will likely want to follow in your footsteps. Here’s my summer book list, if you’re looking for ideas.

Invest in reading for pleasure! It will pay dividends for decades!

Please share the books your kids have enjoyed the most. Please include their ages as well.

Thanks for joining in to build assets in your kids! I look forward to seeing you again next month for Positively Speaking.

Kelly Curtis is a Wisconsin school counselor and author of Empowering Youth: How to Encourage Young Leaders to Do Great Things. To read more about Kelly, please visit her Weblog, Pass the Torch or follow her on Twitter.


  1. says

    Great post. My son is four. He has autism. His favorite books are My World, Goodnight Moon (we can’t pull him away from this book), and Dora books. I have a teaching degree and I try to steer him towards quality literature, but even books that I don’t think are great are better than him reading nothing. :)

  2. says

    My son’s favourite books at the moment (he’s 3)are the Hairy Maclary books, by Lynley Dodd – and lucky for me they are great to read aloud. And also a long time favourite is The Waterhole, by Graeme Base (great multi-layered pictures).
    And I completely agree about having boys read non-fiction because my son will sit down and listen to large amounts of text about topics he is interested in (eg volcanoes) but is not yet into listening to longer fiction stories.

  3. says

    My son’s (who’s 3 y.o.) favourites at the moment are the Hairy Maclary books, by Lynley Dodd. And luckily for me, these are great to read aloud. He also really likes The Waterhole, by Graeme Base (great pictures with hidden animals).
    I agree with your comment about reading non-fiction books too. My son is willing to listen to quite long text about things he wants to learn about (eg. volcanoes) but won’t yet listen to longer fiction stories.

  4. says

    Diary of A Wimpy Kid are my 8 and 9 year old boys favorite. I could kiss Jeff Kinney for writing them. There are 3 in the series and my boys sat and read through all three.

  5. says

    My son is 18 months old today and is already a big fan of reading. His favorites are the Sandra Boynton books, with The Belly Button Book being at the top of the list. Right now, as his motor skills improve by the minute, he loves lift-the-flap books. He also enjoys any kind of books about animals (he likes to make the sounds) or with babies in them.

  6. says

    My daughter is three, and she has a wide range of favorites. Her favorite authors include Mo Willems (right now she has “Are You Ready to Play Outside” checked out of the library; we’ve also enjoyed “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus”) and Kevin Henkes (“Owen,” about a mouse with an attachment to a favorite lovey, is a perennial favorite).

    She also really likes “The Good Humor Man” from the classic Little Golden Books, and magazines like “My Big Backyard” and “National Geographic Little Kids.”

  7. says

    We love summertime reading, as it’s a chance to read more for fun rather than simply for school. Our boys like mystery and adventure stories and have found several good series in our church library including Daring Adventures (from Focus on the Family) and Illustrated Classics (like Sherlock Holmes and Robinson Crusoe). Though our boys are 12 and 9 now, they still like listening to mom read aloud at night. Our current book is A Father’s Promise. The boys also enjoy reading the Bible a chapter at a time.

  8. says

    Excellent post! Especially point #5. I think it’s so important for parents to model good reading habits.

    I recently finished “How to Be Like Walt” and “Mom 3.0,” and I am currently reading “Parenting With Love & Logic.” Next on my list? The 3rd book in the Twilight series.

    Lately, my 2-year-old and I have been reading “Madeline,” “The Three Bears,” and dozens of other books from her shelves. :)

  9. says

    Some children don’t take to reading as soon as others. When I am working with these students I like to use free audio books and stories I find on the web, like the ones at ( The children are still learning from the story without the stress of sounding out words.

    This is especially good for children who are learning English as a second language.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *