Whether you truly want to foster a lifelong love of learning in your child or just get them through the required reading they have to do in school, I want to encourage you. The truth is that it only takes one good book. Find an author or a series or a particular genre, and hopefully, your child will be able to move from one book to the next. Whether that results in reading one required book each semester, one a week, or one a month, if the book is enjoyed, that’s a victory.
Since I’m the managing editor of 5 Minutes for Books, I’m sure you assume that I love to read. You’d be right. You might also assume that I have a family of book lovers. You’d be right there, too, but that’s not a natural assumption. I know plenty of book bloggers, teachers, and librarians who are sad about the fact that their children don’t share their love of reading.
I’ve maintained a tradition with both of my kids: reading aloud. My daughter is 16. She was an avid reader from first or second grade on, but we still always read aloud. I think the last book we read aloud together was a year or two ago, but we still read the same books, though mostly on our own because of busy schedules. For some reason, I had neglected this tradition with my younger son, but we started it up last year when he was 9, and we’re both really glad we did. Reading aloud helps you figure out what they like, but it’s also just a great way to share time together: to have a few laughs or open the door to have conversations about everyday concerns like money trouble, bullying, crushes and more.
If the “one book” that your child enjoys is a part of a series, that’s even better. I used to discount series somewhat — for adults and children — as being too easy somehow with the same characters, style and theme, but when a child loves a book and there’s another book in the series, what she is going to read next becomes a no-brainer.
4 Series to Start Now
My son and I read two of these books aloud together, and I wish I’d have read the 3rd with him because of its amazing themes. The fourth is a brand new series by the author of the Mother-Daughter Bookclub that my daughter and I read through together from the time she was 9 or 10 until she was 14 or so. Not only will your children like these series, but if you have a read-aloud tradition — or want to start one — these are books that you will love too:
Story Thieves by James Riley
What if you could jump into your favorite book? Bethany has this ability. She’s not sure why, but she knows that her mother doesn’t like it, and it has something to do with her father’s disappearance, and now all books are forbidden. Bethany sneaks books like other kids sneak chocolate. Owen’s mother is a librarian and loves books. Owen figures out Bethany’s secret, and he wants in on it. If he could get into the Kiel Gnomenfoot series (a Harry Potter-esque world of magic), it would be a dream come true. Bethany agrees, but Owen does not abide by her rules which include not interacting with the characters to avoid the danger of changing the story.
My 10-year-old son and I laughed a lot as we read this aloud. When he saw that it was a series, he was excited. It just published this week, so I know we’ll have to wait a while, but some things are worth waiting for.
Booklovers will probably appreciate Story Thieves more than reluctant readers because of the bookish characters, but there’s a good blend of humor, fantasy, and suspense that will appeal to a broad range of kids, 9 and up.
The Scavengers by Michael Perry
This is also a new in 2014 series that was wholly original. I did a partial review and giveaway of The Scavengers (click through to read more) while Kyle and I were still reading it, and though I wasn’t sure how it would all turn out, I knew that we were completely enjoying it, and I didn’t want to stop reading it together and rush through it on my own just so I could post a review.
This is a dystopian (think Hunger Games or Divergent) series that is targeted to a slightly younger audience. Instead of rushing to read those books, introduce your curious reader to a possible future where some things have gone wrong, but lots of people show amazing courage and the will to survive. Because of some of the more grim elements, I’d certainly go no lower than 4th grade for these books. There’s nothing inappropriate, but it’s just a more mature subject matter (though it’s also funny and perfectly right-on as far as concerns and thoughts of tweens).
I can’t wait to see where this series goes.
Mouseheart by Lisa Fiedler
This book knocked my socks off. It’s a perfect example of a read-aloud, because the writing and vocabulary is mature enough to engage an older 12-year-old reader, but the story will probably appeal to a younger elementary reader as well as a read-aloud. The characters are well-developed and display admirable qualities of friendship and bravery.
The fact that it’s about mice will appeal to younger readers (though there is some intensity if your child is sensitive to that), but the themes go so much deeper. I wish I had read this aloud with Kyle, and will probably try again before the 2nd one is released, but he somehow decided it wasn’t for him and won’t give it a try, even though all of last year he was totally immersed in the cat-world of Warriors.
Please click through to read my full review of Mouseheart from May and see a sample of the beautiful artwork that is interspersed throughout the story.
Absolutely Truly by Heather Vogel Frederick
Frederick is the author of the series that my daughter and I loved sharing, and I’m so excited about her new series. If Mother-Daughter Bookclub is decidedly girly, Absolutely Truly holds mass appeal. It’s subtitled a “Pumpkin Falls Mystery,” and it’s the great kind of mysteries we read as kids, where the kids get to have fun adventures. I remember always looking for a mystery to be solved in my own neighborhood but never had any luck.
This kind of adventure of free-range kids makes it read like a more classic kind of novel, but it’s also totally relevant to kids these days. Popular themes like moving and starting over, being different (Truly is a 6-foot tall 12-year-old girl!), large families, and family tragedy will make it ring true to elementary kids of all ages.
Great Gifts for Kids
Are you looking for a great Valentine’s Gift for your child? I can’t imagine anything better than a book that you might enjoy together or that might give your child a newfound appreciation for reading. Check out more suggestions in our Valentine’s Day Gift Guide for Kids.