Librarian Ms. O’Brien discusses the St. Andrew’s student book club and gives tips to help your child fall in love with reading.
1. Provide a space for children to discuss books without worrying about getting the “right” answer.
Ms. O’Brien hosts a student book club at St. Andrew’s that provides members with a space to speak freely about their opinions and impressions of a book without being graded. Each fall the book club reads a classic (this year they read Night by Elie Wiesel) and each spring they read something more modern. Ms. O’Brien works with the Upper School and Middle School faculty to choose the books. The book club is open to all Upper School students and, depending on the book, is occasionally opened up to eighth-grade students as well. “The hope is that students will grow in some way and feel confident expressing their opinions,” Ms. O’Brien said. “I’m always impressed with the compassion, respectfulness, and depth of the conversation.”
2. Let your child pick what they want to read.
Allow your children to start with a genre or topic in which they are interested. Ms. O’Brien recalls that her son was not a big reader, but he was very interested in Sports Illustrated Kids. Eventually, he moved on to Sports Illustrated and today he is an active reader. “He needed to start with something he was comfortable with,” she said. Magazines are a great place to start because the articles are often short, offering success and building confidence, and they help build vocabulary and other reading skills.
3. eBooks are a valuable tool.
There are three reasons why ebooks can tip the scales to help a child discover the joys of reading. First, there is a built-in dictionary, and sometimes even a built-in encyclopedia, which makes it easier for children to look up words or references that they don’t understand. Second, there is usually an audio component to the ebook that allows readers to hear the pronunciation of words that are new to them, something that helps those words become part of a person’s vocabulary. Finally, the ability to increase the font size on the screen can be very beneficial for some readers.