Se7en Sneaky Tactics to Encourage the Almost Reader….

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post: “So You Have Raised a Reader – Now What?” and it was filled with ideas for the young avid reader that just can’t put a book down. I followed it up with Se7en of the Best Bazillion Chapter Books – A Book Bonanza. But what about those kids that are just not there yet… they read but not a whole lot, they love books but reading is just not their passion… yet. I say yet because once my children have spent a summer reading Enid Blyton’s Secret Se7en’s, then Famous Five’s, then Mystery Series… then they become passionate about reading… and they will take on any book big or epic because they know the thrill of reading a good story for themselves.


However, right here and now I have two boys who can read, who love books and love spending time in books. But reading is work and they just aren’t wild about work… they would rather be doing construction in the great outdoors than reading, frankly they would rather spend an entire afternoon tossing sticks than reading. So while heaps of folk ask me the question: “My child is an avid reader…” just as many folk ask what to do about their kids who just aren’t avid.

My younger guys are still very much in the reading word by word by word stage and what they need is lots of practice. So it is my task to give them practice, to keep them reading and loving it, exercising their daily reading muscle and stretching them but not pushing to the point of scaring them off. I am not talking about school reading either. That they do, and some books are just too much for them… I am so happy to help and they start by reading a couple of words and I read the rest, then sentences, then paragraphs a day… eventually I leave them to it and they can’t help themselves they have to know how the story ends!!! In this post I am talking about getting to the stage of reading for pleasure. The “I can’t come to a meal I am reading…” kind of reading. The reading under the covers in the dead of night “because I can’t put it down” kind of reading. Usually it takes just one or two magical books per child for the reading button to click. In the meantime I need to keep them plodding along: word for word…

So I have tactics. No sticker charts won’t work, in fact I am hopeless at bribing or any kind of reward for that matter. I just use books and lots of them. I know they work, I have used them before with success and I will have to use them again a couple of times before I am done with schooling my gang.

Here you go Se7en Sneaky Tactics to Encourage the Almost Reader:

  1. I tweak their interest with fast fun facts:
    1. The Brainwaves. – If you don’t know this series from Dorling Kindersley then hunt them down and get them – hundreds of factoids and things to find.
    2. The New Way Things Work by David Macaulay. Go on visit his website… just to meet a great artist at work.
    3. Stephen Biesty’s Incredible Cross-Sections.
    4. The Gadget Book by Chris Woodford.
    5. Children Just Like Me: A Unique Celebration of Children Around the World by Anabel Kindersley and Barnabas Kindersley. Such a brilliant series and who doesn’t want to read about kids just like them that live around the world.
    6. Dorling Kindersley’s Pick Me Up.
    7. Dorling Kindersley’s Do Not Open.

  2. I satisfy their thirst for knowledge with great reference:
    1. Visual Encyclopedia by DK Publishing
    2. Dorling Kindersley’s Wow! Series is AWESOME… I can’t put them down!!!
    3. Dorling Kindersley’s Travel Guides for kids (Simon Adams). My kids love and adore reading travel guides and these travel guides for kids are great fun.
    4. Usborne Time Traveler. Simply the best Usborne Book ever.
    5. Take Me Back. A journey back in time.
    6. The Young Naturalist an Usborne Guide by Andrew Mitchell.
    7. Guinness World Records: My kids can be absorbed in this book for hours literally – gleaning amazing facts about plane eating people and giant plants and incredible feats!!!
  3. I tickle their fancy with comics:
    1. Asterix, the Gaul.
    2. The Adventures of Tintin.
    3. Calvin and Hobbes.
    4. Cricket and Spider and Ladybug Magazines: I got a whole boxful of old copies from the library shop and my kids have been reading them for years.
    5. National Geographic Kids. It doesn’t matter how old you are, these are great!!!
    6. Horrible Science by Nick Arnold.
    7. Horrible Histories by Terry Deary.

  4. I send them on adventures with great authors: Marcia Williams is your very best friend. Your children will go onto read the real thing – because they want to know more and because the stories are familiar… my older kids simply love reading classical classics:
    1. More Tales from Shakespeare.
    2. Greek Myths for Young Children.
    3. Iliad and the Odyssey.
    4. Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.
    5. King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.
    6. Sinbad the Sailor.
    7. Charles Dickens and Friends.

  5. I prompt their desire to “DO” things:
    1. The Usborne Big Book of Science Things to Make and Do.
    2. Usborne’s 365 Things to Make and Do. There Make and Do series is just brilliant.
    3. The Usborne Beginner’s Cookbook. Never ever underestimate the reading power of a great cook book, trust me on this!!!
    4. Made By Me by Jane Bull. Any Jane Bull book is worth it’s weight in gold.
    5. Nature Ranger by David Burnie, Richard Walker. Dorling Kindersley Nature Activity Books are great wherever you live in the world.
    6. The Usborne Art Treasury by Rosie Dickins. There is everything to love here great artists, easy enough to read words and projects…
    7. Complete Puzzle World: Puzzle Island/Puzzle Town/Puzzle Farm/Puzzle Castle/Puzzle Planet/Puzzle Mountain by Susannah Leigh. Usborne Puzzle Books are DIVINE!!!

  6. Lots of Lift the Flap/Pop Up Books: This is just the age when books packed with maps and secret letters and things to discover are too wonderful for words.
    1. Letters for Freedom: The American Revolution by Douglas M. Rife, Gina Capaldi.
    2. Pirates by John Matthews.
    3. How to Find Flower Fairies by Cicely Mary Barker.
    4. Dragonology: The Complete Book of Dragons. Oh any “-ology” is fabulous!!!
    5. Beatrix Potter: A Journal.
    6. Quest for the Lost City of Gold by Stephen Biesty.
    7. Encyclopedia Prehistorica Dinosaurs: The Definitive Pop-Up by Robert Sabuda, Matthew Reinhart.

  7. I set their younger siblings onto them for stories:
    1. Priddy Books: I Love … Series, Animals, farm, trucks. These are not just picture books. Every picture has a fabulous rhyme to read with it. Clever words keep new readers reading and great pictures keep toddlers listening.
    2. The Complete Book of Farmyard Tales by Heather Amery. Easy to read and lots to spot, my kids love these.
    3. Tell Me Something Happy Before I Go to Sleep. Anything by Debi Gliori is perfect… a sweet story for little people and easy enough words for beginner readers.
    4. Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go. Anything by Richard Scarry can’t be beat.
    5. I Spy. Everybody loves Eye Spy…
    6. The Usborne Big Book of Things to Spot, Usborne 1001 Things to Spot by Ruth Brocklehurst, Gillian Doherty, Anna Milbourne This is such a great series, requires a little bit of reading and lots of pouring over.
    7. The Magic School Bus. Fabulous series, I needn’t rave – everybody loves them!!!

    And the Se7en + 1th Thing:

  8. I leave them in the lurch: Totally. I start a really great book and after a chapter or two I get busy… too busy!!! Then if they flounder a bit mid-book then I read a chapter or two more… just enough to tempt them:
    1. The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner. All my kids want to live in a box after reading this book – there is something that they just can’t leave unturned here.
    2. Moonsilver (The Unicorn’s Secret) by Kathleen Duey The first in a series of totally unputdownable books.
    3. Best of Olga Da Polga Michael Bond.
    4. The Flat Stanley Collection by Jeff Brown.
    5. Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren. So outrageously funny that you have to read them.
    6. Matilda by Roald Dahl. Everyone wants to see Matilda succeed… everyone!!!
    7. Captain Pugwash: A Pirate Story by John Ryan. I confess I have never read an entire Captain Pugwash, my guys have never been able to wait for me to get to the end of them!!!

That’s it… Happy Reading!!!

26 Replies to “Se7en Sneaky Tactics to Encourage the Almost Reader….”

  1. What a brilliant post! I love LOVE it. But I have already used up my book allowance for this month ūüôĀ aargh. So many great ideas and super book suggestions. I’m so glad you contributed this to the I Can Read Celebration!

  2. Hi Zoe…Sorry about the book allowance!!! What a clever idea to have one!!! Thanks for a fab celebration!!!

  3. Hay Jess, So good to hear from you… sorry to dent your wishlist!!! I just had a lovely long read through your blog… thanks for all the great writing you do!!! Have a great week!!!

  4. What an amazing post, thank you for putting this together! I am going to spend the next hour on Amazon now…I love everything Dorling Kindersley publishes, I was a huge fan even before I became a parent – and David Macaulay is a genius – his book Motel of the Mysteries was required reading for my Archaeology degree – what a perfect way to make a very dry subject totally fun!

  5. Hi Multanimous Mom… Great to meet you!!! Isn’t it brilliant when a lecturer goes the extra mile and thinks a little off the textbook. What’s not to love about David Macaulay… his work is so brilliant!!! Glad you liked the post!!! Have a great week…

  6. Another post of yours to bookmark. I found my reluctant reader sitting with her younger brother, reading to him, tonight. I think I may have to drop the “reluctant” adjective.

  7. Hay Cheryl… Glad you liked this post. I had a lot of fun writing it and interviewing the kids so that we chose the best of the best of the very best books for it!!! I have to say my previous reluctant reader is so consumed with books that I wonder what I was thinking… So I know in time my boys will get it too – just as soon as they are finished tossing sticks off the rock!!! Hope you have a fun week!!!

  8. I have been enjoying your blog for a while now. These type of posts are my favourite though. Book, books and more books! I’ve found some great ones from
    your suggestions. Also, I discovered Sonlight on your blog and next year I am trying it out. Thanks for great information!

  9. Hi Bethany, So good to meet a reader!!! Oh I hope you love Sonlight even half as much as we love it!!! Books indeed are a passion around here – so I am glad you enjoy our book posts!!! Hope you have a great day!!!

  10. Just a quick note to mention what my mother (a first grade teacher) did to help me after I was still an almost reader after second grade. She gave me tons of books well below my reading level. After I read each one, I got to write down the title and put my name in a hat for a drawing through the library at the end of the summer. I read and read, was increadibly disappointed when I didn’t win anything at the end of the summer and never played another lottery, and I could read about 4 grade levels higher. For me, repetition and confidence was what I needed. I have been a life-long reader ever since that summer. Guess I did win something at the library program afterall:)

  11. Hi Kristen… Sounds like you had a really wise mum!!! I am getting my beginner readers to read board books to their younger siblings everyday and they are loving it!!! Oh the heady pride of reading “Put me in the Zoo” again and again… The little ones do have their favorites – so one new book and one favorite after lunch everyday. Time together that they are really enjoying. Thanks so much for stopping by – hope you have a fabulous day!!!

  12. Love your post! My 6yr old is somewhat reluctant to read for himself so this is priceless advice for me. He’s loved being read to since he was a newborn and will happily sit for an hour or more being read to yet he’s been very reluctant to learn to read. The readers he brings home from school are by their nature very dull, the scheme his school uses isn’t even written very well- he started correcting the grammar in some of the earliest books as they were so poorly written! Using stinky stickers as a reward (he loves stickers) we have managed to get past the first few stages so that now the stories are a bit more exciting we don’t have to resort to bribery as hes interested but it has been hard going.
    One thing we did do was to make a big thing about buying a spotlight/reading light for his wall as he is on the top bunk with his little brother underneath so he needed a way to read on his own in bed without disturbing his brother. He has a pile of non-fiction books on the bottom of his bed which he dips into once we say goodnight. Biesty is well represented on his bed, The Way Things Work is there, a coffee table book of the BBC series The Wonders of the Universe by Brian Cox, and some non-fiction DK Readers that I keep renewing from the public library.
    Slowly, surely I think we’re getting there!
    Anyway, thanks so much for your list! I have been charged with buying books for the school library this year so I am going to add the titles above that we haven’t got to my list as there are some gems!

  13. Hi Jenny, Thanks so much for stopping by… My reluctant reader loves fact books as well.. and loves being read to. My first child that hasn’t snuck off to finish a book I have started, he is happy to wait – even days… aaargh!!! But he recently devoured Little House in the Big Woods… As long as I remind him to read the next chapter, read the next chapter. With most books if you don’t keep reading you just can’t get into it and I think he just forgets that reading is an option!!! We will persist and I will continue to read a heap aloud to him and hopefully he will discover that one magic book that he just cannot put down!!!
    And since you like a list of books so much, here is one you should love: Se7en of the Best Bazillion Chapter Books.
    Hope you enjoy your library shopping!!!

  14. Thanks! E loved it when we read Little House on the Prairie- it’s so practical! Joke books also work well as he does love telling cheesy jokes.

    I always love buying good books, thanks for the other link ūüôā

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