Teachers are always looking for books that will “hook” a child to read. Not just read but love to read. By the time a child has reached 4th grade finding a book that they will want to read can seem undaunting to even the most seasoned teacher.
As long as I can remember, I have had at least 3 children in my class from 3rd to 5th grade that have no interest in reading. Drawing, yes, reading, no. . If you have an older reader who needs to read easy books, easier than their grade level, it can be tricky to find high-interest books that don’t seem ridiculous or babyish yet are still at a low reading level. Reading through research, teacher blogs, and talking with the children who love to read I have found many books that I love and that helps to get the children to love them as well.
If we’re not careful, these books might seem embarrassing to some kids who want to be reading Harry Potter. I just remind them that they are working hard and improving. Soon Harry Potter will be possible. I tell my children over and over again, to improve in reading you have to read and read some more. Reading only gets harder so enjoy some fun reading now.
Another thing I have found as a teacher is reading aloud. Children love to hear books read and really there’s no age that you have to stop reading aloud to or with your child. If there’s an author I really think is great I read one of their first books aloud to the class in hopes that they’ll want to read the next book and the next book, etc. I find this to be so successful even with my son as he was growing up. We would read the book together and if I could stay awake discuss what was going on. It kept me up on the new authors and refreshed my love of the classics.
I was not a strong reader growing up so I can relate to these reluctant readers. I missed out on so many good books! As I taught in different grades, I read the books aloud that I didn’t growing up, and began to love reading even more and kicked myself for missing out. When we first moved to Valdosta, about 100 years ago, I went to the library and read all the Little House on the Prairie books. I began to see why my mother and father kept telling me to read so I made it my mission to “hook” as many children as I could to love to read.
Every year there’s a new challenge, another child, who would rather sit and stare into space than pick up a book. Therefore, I pick the book up for them and make them read. Yup, make them read. I keep doing this until I find the child finding a book like the last one on his/her own. Don’t get me wrong. There are children out there that will struggle like I did until they’re an adult and can make their own choices of what to read. I hate that they struggle because there’s so much technology out there that they can first listen to ignite their interests in one book or another.
Recommended Books for Older Kids:
- Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey
- Dog Man by Dav Pilkey
- Secret Coders by Gene Luen Yang
- Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
- Spy School by Stuart Gibbs
- I Survived Series by Lauren Tarshis
Cindy Moses is a Fourth Grade teacher at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church
What’s your favorite children’s book? As a kid, I remember begging my mom to read “Roundabout Red Gate Farm” over and over. And when I was older, I devoured all of Roald Dahl’s books. I especially loved “Matilda.”
Now that I’m the mom to two little girls and our bookshelves are overflowing with kids’ books, I notice that we always return to a favorite few. If you’re looking for new books for your family or to give as gifts to a child in your life, I recommend these:
Favorite Books for Babies
“Everywhere Babies” by Susan Meyers
This sweet book looks at all kinds of babies and their families, and follows babies as they eat, sleep, travel and grow. I like that the book isn’t afraid of big, complicated words, but the singsong rhyme will make you and your kids smile. My four-year-old still likes to hear it.
“The Going to Bed Book” by Sandra Boynton
Everyone has their favorite Sandra Boynton board book, and this is mine. We have multiple well-worn copies that have made it through accidental soaks in the bathtub and trips all over the country. And every tired parent loves a book that ends with saying goodnight.
Favorite Books for Preschoolers
“Miss Molly’s School of Manners” by James Maclaine
What if there were a school to help your kid unlearn bad habits — like cutting in line or making rude noises at the dinner table? Enter Miss Molly’s School of Manners. The kind but firm Miss Molly the mouse helps a little raccoon named Algernon find his way through the school and learn a few new tricks.
“Little Blue Truck” by Alice Schertle
“Horn went ‘beep!’ Engine purred. Friendliest sounds you ever heard.” I love this book about a helpful little truck who comes to the rescue when a big, strong dump truck gets in trouble. A happy little rhyming book about friendship.
“Excellent Ed” by Stacy McAnulty
Ed the dog has a problem. Everyone else in his family has a special talent (soccer, math, ballet, baking). But he can’t figure out his special talent. He hopefully discovers new skills, just to find out someone else in the family does it better. Finally, Ed learns what makes him special to the people around him.
Favorite Activity Books
“Find Momo Coast to Coast” by Andrew Knapp
It’s fun to add some “finding” books to your library, especially as kids get older. Our family loves this book (for car trips, waiting rooms, or story time). Momo is a dog who traveled around the country. See if you can find him on every page (it might take you a while!).
Lee Price is a parent of St. John the Evangelist Catholic School and mom to two girls.
I'm sure you've heard the saying, “Make plans and God laughs.” John Lennon put it well when he said “Life is what happens while you plan other things.” Most of us past the age of thirty can probably think of at least one major event or catastrophe in our lives that we did not see coming. I can think of a few myself. Sometimes these unexpected occurrences in our lives are immediately followed by an 'Ah-ha' moment and we have the relief and understanding as to why this new path has been put in front of us. Other times, we never know the answer as to why we had to change gears and it never makes sense.
The bottom line is we have to march forward, sometimes with our heads down for a while feeling ashamed, sometimes with our heads up asking God, “Why?” If we are not happy with these unexpected changes in our life plan, what is the alternative to marching forward? We become stagnant, bitter or angry. This only further diminishes the prospect of joy in life. So, moving forward is the one thing that we must do. There are people who think their marriage wouldn't suffer, they'd make more money by now, they thought they'd have more kids, they should've gotten that degree by now, they thought they'd be higher up in the job ranking, or those who get hit hard with terminal illness, on and on...So, how do we march forward if we are disappointed or scared or angry?
Mark Merrill, one of my favorite writers, gives us some tips to consider when things don't turn out as you thought they would:
1. Give yourself an opportunity to grieve. Grief is not just for death. There are times when we grieve the loss of friendships, love, health, dreams, expectations. Many things can be grieved. Giving yourself, and your spouse permission to grieve is often an important step to progress and growth.
2. Don't keep blaming others, especially your spouse or other family members. Assigning blame to others can be a bitter cancer in your soul and marriage. It's one thing to identify that someone is responsible for something that has altered your goals or plans, it's another to let that determination consume your heart and your relationship. That does not end well. The real “blame” can often be a complex web of circumstances and decisions.
3. Don't keep blaming yourself. Maybe you look back and realize that something y ou did or didn't do lies at the crux of your disappointment. It can be hard to firgive yourself. Again, identifying that possibility is different than obsessing over it. You may need to firgive yourself as much as anyone else.
4. Accept what you cannot change. It's hard to change what we can when we haven't figured out or accepted what can't be changed. Letting go of what's over and done is critical to embracing what can be possible in the future.
5. Accept the lack of control of most things in our lives. Much of our disappointments stem from a false sense of control. When we can understand and accept that there is far less under our control than we probably wish, it becomes easier to own what little we can control.
6. Share your disappointments with your spouse or loved one. Real and honest conversation with your spouse about your disappointments and theirs can revolutionize your relationship...but it must be done without blaming them. When you develop listening skills, broaden your empathy skills, and deepen your understanding of your wife or husband, you tear down walls you didn't know you were building.
7. Be open to counseling. Sometimes we need extra help. It's hard to resolve complex emotions and circumstances that overwhelm us. Consider getting some external, objective help to sort through these issues. Don't ignore the possibility that you may need your spouse or loved one to attend counseling with you. At times, when we get stuck in a part of life and have a difficult time marching forward, it affects those closest to us as well.
Laurie Wallace is a Licensed Family and Marriage Counselor and is the Counselor at St. John Catholic School in Valdosta, Georgia.