When children who have had plenty of experience with books and reading go to the school library, they tend to know what titles they want to check out. Like most avid readers, they know what topics and which authors they like. They also enjoy the freedom the library offers, as selecting their own books to read, sadly, is only one of the few, purely personal choices that children get offered in the lock-step flow of K-12 education in the USA.
Once that last school bell rings and diplomas are awarded, however, those children (now young adults) burst forth into a fabulous world of abundant personal choices and options, hopefully undergirded by a drive to keep learning. After all, the single most important end goal of education is to prepare and encourage students to continue to engage and learn about new things after they leave formal education and to make constant educational growth their default path in life.
Children who don’t have wide and varied reading and book experiences and are likely to be infrequent or reluctant visitors to their school or local libraries, unlikely to have much direction about where to go in the library, except to where their friends, and to a lesser extent, to where their parents and teachers suggest.
One of the toughest duties of teachers is to get all of their students to try new things and grow to appreciate all kinds of books. However, getting kids even to consider books, much less select books, beyond predictable categories is challenging. Kids might take suggestions from their pals or perhaps a favorite relative, but parents and teachers are suspect when it comes to book recommendations—especially as kids get into their teen years.
If you want a leg up on making palatable recommendations, be a kid watcher—someone who pays attention to children’s interests, questions and choices in possessions and ideas, because those observations clearly reveal what kids find fascinating. And what kids find fascinating is a doorway to their path forward.
Additionally, we adults must remember (and be okay with) that IF kids are allowed to exercise their personal choices when it comes to book selection, they will read more (and learn to read better) and slowly begin to expand their choices to topics, genres and authors that they heretofore avoided or ignored.
- LEAD THEM TO select any books, magazines, newspapers, articles or anything else they want to read
- LEAD THEM TO decide when to read and how, as much as practical, and
- LEAD THEM TO read for a satisfying amount of time (defined by them).