Stuff the Stocking with Series Books
The Christmas tree lights are shining and enjoyed by everyone in the family, who have all settled down near the tree after a festive evening meal. A single gift is handed to each family member and, with immense anticipation, each person opens the gift to find the same item. Well, the same item but not; more similar than the same. Each person is in awe and turns the item in his hand and then opens the item up to discover a fascinating adventure awaits inside this item. Each person retreats to his room or a cozy corner to enjoy the item which is used throughout the night. Smiles and intent concentration avail throughout the house and all has become quiet. Each person is so enthralled with his gift that the only sound one hears is the crackling of the fire. At least this is how I picture it in my mind- the Iceland tradition called jólabókaflóð.
Maybe I’m fantasizing it too much. Yes, it is true that the Icelandic Christmas Eve custom is to receive a book. I’m sure some of my fantasy is true, for the book lover that is. But what about the non-book lover? The child in the corner who would rather spend his evening doing anything but reading.
One of the tricks to helping a non-book lover become a book lover is to find a subject that he enjoys and present books on that topic. This lasts for a little while, but then the child may return to moving books to the side. While reading doesn’t have to be everyone’s favorite past time, it is important to expose the non-book lover to a variety of books. A little “reader’s advisory” may be necessary to get the non-book lover over the hurdle of not picking up a book. This can be hard when convincing a child that there is a book out there that he will love. Sometimes the harder one tries, the more one pushes the child away.
While dealing with non-book lover children, I have learned one trick that works for some children- introduce them to a series book. Series books provide a familiar character that, if the child is rooting for or genuinely likes, the more likely he will pick up the next book in the series. Many of us understand this as it probably has worked for children we know, and ourselves as children. I read many of the Ramona books as a child. I liked Ramona, I understood Ramona, she and I both had similarities. Thus, my desire to pick up the next Ramona book in the series to see what was happening next in her life.
This issue of our newsletter includes a thematic reading list of popular series books that have turned many non-book lovers/non-readers into readers. Suggest several to the non-book lover that you know and challenge him (or her) to read at least the first 30 pages. Hopefully he will want to continue reading and, by next Christmas, may even be excited to receive a book on Christmas Eve.