It’s summer break: the perfect time to read, read, read! Parents often come to the library looking for “books for a child in grade two” or “chapter books for a 9-year-old.” While we definitely have books for every reader, finding the right one often takes a bit more information than that. What appeals to one child in grade two may be boring to another, and age isn’t always the best guideline of ability or interest.
So where do we start when it comes to recommending books? Ideally, by speaking with the reader in person! Choice is key—after all, your child won’t get much out of a book she won’t actually read. In the library, I will often ask the reader the name of a book he’s read and enjoyed, or a favourite author, and base my suggestions on that. For example, if she loved Diary of a Wimpy Kid, I might suggest the Dork Diaries or Big Nate series–or maybe she’d be interested in enduring favourites by Judy Blume. If he loves adventure books, I might suggest the I Survived series, or the Hatchet series by Gary Paulsen. She’s a voracious reader and has already burned through popular fantasy series like Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, and is looking for a new challenge? Perhaps she’s ready to tackle The Lord of the Rings trilogy. He’s read The Hunger Games, but has he checked out Eric Walters’ Rule of Three series? What about classic dystopic fiction like The Giver or Lord of the Flies or 1984?
Bring your child to the library with you. Let him browse the shelves. If she shows interest in any book, encourage it! Avoid dismissing his choices as “baby books” (reading books with simple, familiar vocabulary can go a long way towards building confidence and reading fluency. Plus, there are some really rich, powerful picture books out there). You may not love books featuring television and movie characters, or with childish humour, but these might just be the gateway books that will get your child to love reading. The goal is to get the child to see him or herself as a reader. “I don’t like to read” can often mean “I haven’t found the right book yet”.
Use our online catalogue. She loved Anne of Green Gables—so what’s next? Well, on the right side of each book detail page, you’ll find links to Series That Include This Title, Recommended Reads, Staff Lists That Include This Title, and related Subject Headings (example: Prince Edward Island – Fiction). These links will lead you to other books she might like.
Read to your child! Even when children can read independently, listening to a fluent reader is beneficial, and can expose them to books they might not sit down to read on their own. Audiobooks are another wonderful option—great for reluctant readers; readers with print challenges; long car trips; or anyone who enjoys a good read aloud. We have many junior titles on CD or available as streaming audio.
Remember, reading doesn’t have to be limited to fiction—many readers prefer non-fiction. Does he love animals? There’s a book for that! Is she crazy about video games? There’s a book for that, too! Magazines, comic books, graphic novels, picture books, ebooks—reading is reading.
And while you’re at the library, why not sign your child up for the TD Summer Reading Club? It’s a fun way to track all that great reading they’ll be doing over the break anyway, and as a bonus, they’ll be entered in a draw to win fun weekly prizes. Talk to a librarian at your local branch for more information.