When I was in college, I remember one of the professors telling us that we as adults, parents, and future teachers, should let children read whatever they wanted to read as long as they were reading. She shared a story about her own daughter who only wanted to read about horses all the time. She said they have done everything horses: riding lessons, movies, books, plays. Finally the professor said it was time to move on to something else. That was the last time she saw her daughter voluntarily reading. When the professor told the story, the daughter was 24 years old, and for the past 10 years, the professor said, the daughter would not voluntarily pick up another book and just read for pleasure. Her advice to us was: Let them read even if it is not your favorite topic or if you think the child is too young/old for a particular book.
At that time, I had a really hard time with my own son who would not read a book, no matter what, and I had tried everything. I took my professor's recommendation and when I got home, I tried to find out what interested him as a reading topic. It turned out that he "wouldn't mind" Geronimo Stilton books. That same night, my sister picked up one of the Geronimo Stilton books and read it to my son. I guess the story was funny because they both laughed the entire time and the very next day the Geronimo Stilton adventure began. That was all he read any time he had a chance and was always anxiously waiting for another book to come out. Today, many years later, our household owns almost the entire collection of Geronimo Stilton books along with Thea Stilton, Crepella, Heromice, Cavemice, Spacemice, and other similar books. It is still Geronimo Stilton he picks up once in a while, but we have also read a lot of great authors and many other books.
Although there is really no formula and each case is different, a key can and should be found to every door. I know that because I have been there.
ELL Natalya Istomin is an EL teacher for the Ozark R-VI School District
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