Sunday 4 March 2018

How to Get Your Screen-Loving Kids to Read Books for Pleasure

How to Get Your Screen-Loving Kids to Read Books for Pleasure by Kaye Newton (Linland Press, January 2018) RRP $12.36 for paperback, $7.99 for eBook. ISBN - 978-0692986370

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

This guide includes lists of books that hook children on reading, advice on managing book time vs screen time, and tips on how to make the required reading for school more enjoyable. It is targeted at parents, grandparents, librarians, teachers, and anyone who wants to promote reading to children. The reader’s motivation for writing the book began when her own children were eleven and fourteen: neither of them read books for pleasure although they had been avid readers when younger. Both, along with their friends, preferred to spend their free time playing Xbox Live, texting and skimming social-media sites.

Of course, the answer is obvious: give them books rather than electronic gadgets and insist on reading. However, in today’s world that’s not how it works. Thus it was that Newton, an American mom, set out to lead her screen-loving children back to reading for pleasure.

Her book is divided into two parts: Part One is understanding reading motivations and challenges while Part Two is titled ‘Carrying out a reading challenge.’ Newton explores subjects such as understanding the types of readers and promoting reading, introducing reading for pleasure and finding the right book that will hook a teenager. She examines reading rewards and whether they work, making reader ‘the most interesting activity in the room’ and more. Early in the piece she states that reading experience changes for teens when they are required to meet testing standards and to read informational texts and textbooks. To substantiate these claims, she quotes figures that show that 53% of nine-year-olds versus 17% of 17-year-olds are daily readers.

To hook readers, Newton, following the Kids and Family Reading Report that ‘nearly three-quarters of both books and girls say they would read more if they could find more books they like’. Thus, she says, ‘finding the right book is key to getting an adolescent hooked on reading.’ Probably the most important chapter in her book is devoted to listing books for interests and age groups. For instance, for teens wanting to read and escape and experience exciting worlds, she would recommend books such as The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, Maximum Ride, or Harry Potter. There are many books listed with brief synopses given of each book.

Doubtless Newton managed to finally get her teens hooked on to reading using her various methods. For any parent (or teacher) keen to increase reading activity, this book has many ideas which they might like to implement.

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