If you’re reading the Penguin blog then it’s very likely that you’re an avid reader and know the virtues of getting kids reading from a young age. We all know that reading is fundamental for development and research has shown that having good reading skills from an early age is linked to future success in life. But what about kids that don’t enjoy reading and don’t understand the pure escapist pleasure that books can offer, how do we help them? There are many children for who, delving into a book is the last thing on their mind. Whether it’s because of the distractions of TV and video games or because it feels too much like school, some kids just don’t ‘get’ books. So as voracious readers ourselves how do we help these kids become readers and learn to love books?
The key is to get kids to take that first step into enjoying the reading experience, as once they start to enjoy reading they will soon flourish. One way to engage kids is through books which are not straight-forward black and white text. So books that have fun and engaging text, a humorous story or are in a comic book style are more likely to be engaging for kids as they will find reading less of a chore. This is what makes the Geronimo Stilton books so ideal for reluctant readers, not only are the books funny, (they are about a mouse reporter and his fabulous adventures, so how could they not be!) but they are also full of colourful text and pictures. Every page is interesting to look at, whether it’s the bright pink text flying across the page or the words climbing up the page, this fun text design is perfect for engagement and it’s more accessible than traditional black and white text. As one reviewer puts it: The illustrations are brilliant along with the different types of fonts and colours used as they encouraged my 5 year old to follow the words as I read them.
If you’re looking for further proof that books with engaging text and images are accessible for kids and great for reluctant readers, then look no further than Jeff Kinney’s Wimpy Kid series. This illustrated diary series with its comic style adventure has proved a huge hit with kids, even beating Harry Potter to be voted Blue Peter’s best book of the decade!
So if you know a reluctant reader why not give one of these series’ a whirl, who knows you might uncover an avid reader who was just waiting to find the perfect book for them. The key is to find the book that interests them and that they can relate to. Whether it’s a comic strip book or a book about an adventuring mouse, there will be a book out there that captures their imagination and stays with them for the rest of their lives. After all it’s book characters, more than TV, film or cartoon characters that stay with us the longest.