Growing Readers - Exposing Your Children to a Variety of Literature Genres
by Rivka Kawano
As adults who would consider ourselves “readers” we love to consume books like sweets. And of course who wants to eat just ice-cream all day when there is cake, chocolate, truffles, fudge, cookies, and more! While we all have our favorites - variety is the spice of life as they say.
So how do we teach our children to love all different kinds of books? If we want them to love reading more than one genre of literature as adults, we can set the stage by reading books with many different styles now.
Want them to love the next great novel? Then make sure you read books that are not just strings of words such as many children’s books devoted to things like shapes or colors. Find true stories that include drama, tension, and resolution such as “The Little White Owl” by Tracey Corderouy.
Stories are great, but children can begin to appreciate great poetry at a young age too. Try reading some of the classic to your infant. Babies will love hearing the rhythm and cadence of your voice as you read. As they get older introduce children’s poetry books complete with illustrations.
Aren’t all kids books picture books? Well, yes, and no. I am talking about books that are only pictures. David Weisner has drawn some great ones. These allow you and your child to tell your own stories, and really develop different ideas.
Take a minute to flip through a few books and choose lots of different kinds for your kids. Mystery, romance, sci-fi, fantasy, you can find a corollary to just about every genre in some kids book or another. Can you recognize the early patterns of your favorite? Share it with your child - and help them learn the literary terms in the process.
Children’s books are great - but definitely don’t stop there! Children are never too young to start hearing books from all different “reading levels.” My boys are 4, 3, and almost 2, and have been loving listening to “The Hobbit” at night when they are going to sleep. Granted, we started with “Moby Dick” and that was just too much for them, which brings us to the next point.
Follow Their Lead
Never, ever, shove books down your kids ears so to speak. If they are not ready for that book yet, try something else. If it is too scary, try something else. If they are bored, or don’t want to read any more that day, or are wiggling and not listening, try something else. If they want to read a different book - let them! Your favorites might not be theirs and vice-versa. That is okay. Ideally, you will be able to find lots of books that you both enjoy. But remember, if you want them to love reading it has to be fun - for them! Make reading a wonderful time for snuggling and talking and learning together. Not just about the books, but about each other. Over time they will be interested in trying more new books. And someday they will be old enough to give you recommendations.
Rivka Kawano is a mother and avid book reader who has read more books than she can count, and now loves sharing them with her three children too. You can read her children’s book reviews and ideas at www.BeautifulBooksforChildren.com. Visit her Facebook page to learn about live reading events and monthly book give-aways.