New children's books that will win over reluctant readers
A reluctant reader is a child (or adult) who does not enjoy reading and will never pick up a book of their own accord.
A child who's a reluctant reader and falls behind their peers in their reading ability is much less likely to get along in life. Reading isn't just a pleasurable pastime; it's a technology, one of the oldest and most important, that each of us needs to get to grips with in order to communicate, learn and work. At The Salariya Book Company, we pride ourselves on being experts at using all of the tools at a publisher's disposal to design new children's books that will win over reluctant readers.
If you're a parent, a teacher or someone else concerned with encouraging a child to pick up a book, you can apply some of the same ideas to change his or her attitude. The most important thing to remember is never to shame reluctant readers or impose your ideas about what they ought to be reading:
1. If a child finds reading boring, it's no use complaining about 'short attention spans' – just pick books whose topics they'll find more exciting and that connect with their passion, whether it's for football or space travel! We always strive to frame our books around high-interest material that will engage children easily distracted by other media channels. In our science and history books, we pick topics that focus on the gory, gross or sensational. We also emphasise humour, believing that a child who's laughing and enjoying herself is far more receptive to reading and learning. Texts with lots of high-quality, dramatic or quirky illustrations also serve to make the books more inviting and appealing to children who are usually left cold by lots of words on a page.
2. Reading to your child, or reading along with them, is another way of further enlivening the reading experience and making it feel more like play than a chore. Some children respond to the conversational element of being read to, where they can ask questions or make observations of their own. It helps to make the reading experience feel more involving and personal.
3. If a child is being put off or intimidated by the complexity of language in most books aimed at their age range, don't be afraid to offer them books geared to a younger audience or containing simplified text, such as comic books or graphic novel versions of classic novels. You might also introduce them to books that break text up into different forms, such as bite-sized fact boxes, annotated diagrams, timelines and maps, as this can make the reading process feel more varied and lively.
4. As is widely known, it is often boys who are the most reluctant readers. Many boys are not interested in reading unless they can see an immediate, practical 'use' in what they're reading about, so a good way to win them over is by providing technology, science and information titles that explain the world to them. We always ensure that we include tips and simple experiment instructions in our You Wouldn't Want To Live Without books alongside the main text, which give these practical-minded readers the opportunity to relate the book directly to the 'real' world and feel more actively engaged with it via the reading process.
We believe that every child has a bookworm inside them waiting to wriggle out. With the right approach – one that takes into account a child's own interests and tastes, and looks for books that make the reading experience dynamic and exciting – you can convert your reluctant reader to the wonderful world of books, too!
written by David Salariya, founder of The Salariya Book Company.