Contributed and Written by Author: Heather Nagrocki
It’s the characters I miss most. There’s this little hole that tears open when I turn the last page of the book I’m reading and am confronted with The End. I feel it every time. It’s a little emptiness that always passes, but it can take a few days. It’s the reason I often plunge right into my next book.
There’s just something irresistible about getting lost in the pages of a book. When I read, I jump in, head first, and truly only continue with a book if I feel an immediate, undeniable connection. I’m passionate about this—there is only so much time to read, so I will not settle for mediocre.
So, I guess I can relate to kids who say they “can’t find anything good to read.” Well, sort of. I guess I look at it more like “I’m not stopping until I find something to read.” I get it though. What I think kids mean is that they too are looking for that connection—that spark—with the words on the page. They don’t want to read just anything—they want to feel pulled in by the story.
Finding that perfect book can be a daunting task even as an adult. Picture a library, or a bookstore. So. Many. Books. Although some of us may see the stacks (or vast listings) as an opportunity for discovery, for a kid uncertain of what to read (or read next), the choices must seem endless. How can they possibly decide?
The good news is, of course, that the options are endless! There’s no limit to the topics to learn about, places to explore, and captivating stories to behold. They simply need a guide to get them started on their way. And as a parent, you are likely the one to give them their first tour on their great reading journey. It all begins with bedtime stories, then those first stumbles and successes as an early reader, and then—before you know it—your kiddo is a reader.
If you are looking for your own guide to the myriad options available to your reader(s), whether they are just starting out on this journey or are well on their way, Renaissance’s annual What Kids Are Reading report is a wonderful place to start. This report provides popular books for all school-age kids and intriguing stats on key components of book reading. Did you know that reading is a skill like any other, and that it takes practice to become great at it? Did you know that girls read more words than boys do over the course of their schooling, but that boys are more likely to read books on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) topics?
This report is the world’s largest study of student reading behavior, based on data for a whopping 9.9 million kids who read more than 346 million books and articles during the 2015–2016 school year. We know kids read these books—really read them, from start to finish—because their only shot of making the top book lists is if kids have passed carefully crafted comprehension quizzes that test them on facts they could only know having read the whole book.
All life-long readers have one thing in common. At some point they read THE book, the one that got them hooked. That’s all it takes, but it’s imperative they have this experience. One sure-fire way to get kids hooked on reading is to help them find the character(s) that they’ll miss after reading. That special character—or author—that keeps them wondering long after they turn the last page.
In reading, there’s a simple antidote for missing these special individuals—the book series! The peppering throughout the report’s top book lists of intriguing characters like Fly Guy; Pete the Cat; Biscuit; Laura Numeroff’s Mouse, Pig, Moose, Dog, and others; Jeff Kinney’s Wimpy Kid; The Hunger Games’ Katniss; several of Rachel Renee Russell’s No-So-Perfect tales, Divergent’s Tris, and multiple titles from James Dashner speak volumes on this matter.
So, dive in to this great resource to help your kids make those key connections that will draw them in and see them through many great reads.