Saturday, March 5, 2011

In a Reading Rut

I've always been a big reader, and I would love my kids to develop the same habit.  I'm don't think that there is much that is more wonderful than curling up with a warm blanket and a good book, and reading until you force yourself to turn out the light because you know you're going to hate yourself in the morning. 

But I've been struggling getting my kids motivated to read.  Most days, it seems like reading is a chore for them, one more thing to check off the homework chart.  Not to mention their choices in books are usually a little less than substantial.

For example, I recently had to ban all of this series from the house:

And they've read every one of these that they can find at the library:

They love these, but read them in less than a day:

Ashlynn has recently started:

And Abby is on the third book in this series:

I loved Harry Potter, and both my husband read them as fast as I could get my hands on them, but Ashlynn still groans when I tell her it's time to read.  And while Abby seems to like Fablehaven, and about fell over dead from excitement yesterday when she got to meet the great Brandon Mull in person and he signed a bookmark for her, I still have to remind her to finsh that book before she starts another. What I'm hoping for is something that will really capture their attention.  Something that they can't put down, something worth of  will smuggling a flashlight up to their rooms so they can read under the covers when they're supposed to be asleep. (And I'm wondering what will do it if Harry Potter and Fablehaven don't!)  Suggestions? Ideas on how to help them love reading?

And as for Max, we've read all of this series so many times that the entire family, including him, has them memorized.  I ordered this one from Amazon the day it was released because I was so excited to have a new one!

We also love the close relative of Elephant and Piggie: the pigeon.  (Mo Willems needs to write more of these!)

And we can't forget this book.  We bought this for $.50 at Deseret Industries years and ago, and it has had more readings over the past few months than any book in our house.  Combine multiple readings a day of with all the violin music going on in our house at all hours of the day and night and you get a two year old constantly asking "Max violin lessons?"

And don't forget to "Make way for Elmo and his duckies!"

Max has also taken a weird liking to this book, which seems like it would be way over his head.

So any suggestions for a gripping toddler read from my smart, well-read blogging friends? While we have nothing but love for Elmo, Elephant and Piggie and the Pigeon, it may be time to expand our horizons a bit. 

Ideas? Suggestions?  Plugs for your favorite author? What are your favorite books for toddlers or young girls? 


  1. We had to ban Junie B Jones too. We have enough naughty ideas in the house without providing more!

  2. I don't have any solid ideas on books, but I think it is interesting you want your daughter to finish one book before she starts another. In my own reading life I'm generally in the middle of more books then I can remember. It means that when reading strikes, I can always find a book to fit my mood. It's also not important to finish every book you start. There have been a few books I started that I "threw" with great disgust and will never finish. If I'd had to finish those books before moving on to another I would have never read another book.

  3. okay, I just sent you a HUGE comment and it disappeared. If you didn't get it, email me and I'll try to recreate it a little.

  4. For toddlers, I am a big fan of Sandra Boynton (they are mostly board books). Some of our favorites are Barnyard Dance and Snuggle Puppy and Moo, Baa, La La La.

    Another group of books we really like are
    Ten Little Ladybugs
    Goodnight Sweet Butterflies
    Eight Silly Monkeys
    Buzz Buzz Busy Bees
    (we have a ducky one too but I'm spacing the exact title)
    Anyway, I can't explain them exactly, but look them up on amazon. They are VERY popular with our kids starting at the touch n' feel stage (like 18m) up until early elementary. AND, more importantly, *I* like them well enough that I don't mind reading them over and over and over!!

  5. I wish I had book ideas, but my 2nd grader is giving me headaches over this same problem. He is a good reader, reads above grade level, but has no interest in chapter books at all. I've tried finding more boy appropriate ones, you know, dragons, magic, sports, whatever, but he refuses to even open them. And it is a chore with him too. I think some kids naturally like it and others just don't. My parents never had to give me incentive to open a book. I worry too that if he doesn't stretch his reading skills a little and read some chapter books and harder books, he will lose the skills and stop reading as well. It's a very hard thing to figure out. He must just take after my husband, who didn't like reading at all until after I introduced him to the Harry Potter books when we were engaged.

  6. I have been thinking of doing a post on chapter books on my own blog, because we've read so many good ones this year. I don't know if I can guarantee any "hiding with the flashlight past bedtime" experiences... but I can say our eyes have been opened to books I'd never even heard of. I don't think Dallin will ever be a huge, huge reader. I think for that to happen you have to be completely without TV or video games. That's my opinion. As long as those things compete, books will lose. And we're not there yet. Sigh.

    Have they read the Little House on the Prairie books? Or Pippi Longstocking? Mrs. Piggle Wiggle? We love books by Eleanor Estes: The Moffats (it's a whole series), Ginger Pye, Pinky Pye. They would appeal to both boys and girls. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Old classics like The Secret Garden, The Little Princess, Heidi, etc. The Wizard of Oz series. I loved all these as a child.

    Most of the books we've read probably wouldn't go over with your girls since I chose them (obviously) for a boy.

    I've been having great success looking for older books and series... there are some great stories out there, and the quality is much better than the junk that we see today.

    As far as toddlers, Sariah and I loved a little series called Backpack Baby when she was that age. It's also very attachment-parenting friendly.

  7. One of the most successful things we have done as a family to encourage reading is to listen to recorded books while we were in the car. The nice thing about read alouds is that you can read up from their grade level.

    I also got to pick the books, so I could select well-written books like the award winning books. They were trapped, so they listened and got enticed into the books. I tried to pick a variety from fantasy to historical. We even listened to the classics from time to time.

    Some of my children are great readers, some are not. But now they all love a good story!

  8. I just wanted to add that I often will entice my son to read a particular book by doing it first as a read-aloud. Like Michelle, I pick lots of books for him (since we homeschool, I pick "school" books as assigned reading), trying to choose books that I know are excellent literature and that he will like. Then I begin the book by reading aloud. He has assigned daily silent reading time, but I'll suggest that Mom do the reading this time. Then, when he's hooked, he'll finish the rest by himself. Especially if I let him stay up late at night to read. There have been books that I know he would not have touched had I just left it up to him to read them, that have become favorites after I took a night or two to read TO him.

  9. I second the comments on reading aloud. For several years when my older two were learning to read I would read chapter books, one chapter at a time, every night. We loved it! I read classics like Little House on the Prairie, and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, and The Little Princess until my son started showing interest and then we read most everything written by Roald Dahl which even my little 4-year-old daughter started to appreciate--he's been one of our favorites. We've also read aloud some newer series like Fablehaven and Percy Jackson books. The past 2-3 years I haven't had/taken the time to read aloud and my younger two children do not take the same interest in reading. I managed to read Charlotte's Web aloud to child #3 and recently tried to read Matilda but she became fed up with my inconsistency and finished it on her own--which is successful, I guess. I'm feeling a new urge to read another book aloud to my little kids...

  10. Reading aloud to your children is great! I loved having my mom read us a chapter or two before bed. Also, have your children read the Magic Tree House series? They have the regular stories (mostly historical fiction type) and some research books, both of which my niece (who has struggled with reading) has become very interested in. I also love reading several books at the same time. Sometimes I'm in the mood for one and sometimes for a different one. Perhaps you could also start a "book club" where you invite some of their friends and they all agree to read the same book and then meet to discuss it over treats.

  11. Go Dog Go
    Quick as a Cricket
    Anything Curious George
    Anything Clifford
    We adore Mo Willems
    Monster at the End of this Book
    The Biscuit books (SO annoying but the boys love them!)
    Henry and Mudge books
    The Cat in the Hat (anything Suess)
    Anything by Syd Hoff, long but cute
    Harry and the Lady Nexy Door
    Detective Dinosaur
    There's a Nightmare in my Closet
    There's an Alligator Under my Bed
    There's Something in my Attic
    Dumpy and the Firetruck
    Katy and the Big Snow
    Make Way For Ducklings
    Anything Berenstein Bears
    Leo The Lop
    Click Clack Moo
    Thump Quack Moo
    Giggle Giggle Quack

    I'll stop. We do much reading around here. I can't convince Oliver to watch two minutes of TV, but reading 39 books in a row is totally cool with him. We ALL love books around here.

  12. My first suggestion would be to ask a librarian, and since I'm here already, I'll let you know my thoughts. :)

    Mem Fox is an excellent source of information, she wrote a book about encouraging kids to read (forget the name of it, but your library should have it).

    Also, another huge thing that helps? Instead of announcing mandatory "reading time" just sit and open a book, it draws children like flies.


  13. My 2 year old loves " I love you stinky face" :) Its a bedtime favorite.

  14. My favorite picture book author is Audry Wood. Think Napping House, Silly Sally, King Bidgood's in the Bathtub, etc.

    Older kids (early tweenager) girls... My girls liked Gail Carson Levine books. Fairy tale sort of genre. They also liked the Percy Jackson Series. What about The Sister's Grimm. Not my favorite, but my kids loved them.


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