This is nuts.
I had so many plans for this article.
Clever points of view.
Yet the more research I did on the subject of literacy, the more depressed I got.
Who the crap wants to read a depressing post?
So when I saw some of these stats on DoSomething.org I was done:
- As of 2011, America was the only free-market OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) country where the current generation was less well educated than the previous.
- 75% of Americans who receive food stamps perform at the lowest 2 levels of literacy, and 90% of high school dropouts are on welfare.
- Teenage girls ages 16 to 19 who live at or below the poverty level and have below average literacy skills are 6 times more likely to have children out of wedlock than the girls their age who can read proficiently.
- Kids who don’t read proficiently by 4th grade are 4 times likelier to drop out of school.
- 53% of 4th graders admitted to reading recreationally “almost every day,” while only 20% of 8th graders could say the same.
Wait. Wait. Wait…
Are you telling me, Jaime, that if I don’t teach my kids to read by the 4th grade that they’ll drop out of school, get pregnant and live on food stamps?
No, no, no…it means…
The world’s gonna drag us down and try to squash every one of us if it can’t convert us to it’s twisted, ever-changing and ever-compromising ways. That’s the way the world is designed.
If you disagree, well, you’re not old enough or had enough experiences yet.
I don’t want to play that game.
In fact, I refuse to play by those twisted rules.
The world doesn’t need my help in breaking you down or creating yet another fear or problem.Click To Tweet
No. No. No.
Let’s get POSITIVE! That’s what I say.
FOCUS on the positive.
So I’ll start by asking: Can we agree that reading is important? Consider my list:
7 Key Benefits to Reading We Can Agree On
- Reading Increases Your Understanding: isn’t this a simple concept? The more you read, the more you learn? From how to make a killer potato soup to the right combination of shampoo and Nair to make sure that jock who beat you up in front of everyone loses his hair in the shower after Friday night’s big game. (Did I say that out loud?)
- You Can Acquire Experience From Others: One of the biggest advantages of reading is getting into another’s mind. Right now I’m reading Bonds That Make Us Free and I’m seeing how the patterns of others shine a light on my own life.
- It Teaches You Communication Skills: The more we know, the more we can share. Reading reveals the patterns of communication, what is going on in the world, connecting you and giving you a distinct advantage over those who don’t read.
- Increases Creativity: Did you know that writers read as much or more than they write? It’s true. Reading recharges the creative batteries and opens perspectives that we use to weave our own stories. Can you recall a time when something you read inspired you to do something creative? See what I mean?
- Reading Can Increase Empathy: A study was done to show that reading fiction (experiencing fictional narratives) initiates intellectual inspiration. Since fiction is a simulation of social experiences, sharing these interpersonal skills in action readers develop empathy in their own lives. My main character Wendell in the Chronicles of a Hero series is a great example.
- Helps Us Escape: One word—fantasy. Do I really have to explain this one? Didn’t think so.
- Self-Improvement: With a bigger view of the world or reading about specific topics, we grow as individuals. For me, I read a cookbook and grow plenty.
Now here’s the challenge.
There are kids who would rather not read.
Well, that’s being nice.
Let’s say I know of some kids who would rather wash the windows, mow the lawn, do the dishes, eat a steaming hot bowl of Brussels sprouts before going for a root canal at the dentist…just before Aunt Betsy stops by for her weekly foot massage and corn removal.
Okay, that’s not completely true.
Brussels sprouts are gross.
No, your kid’s not crazy.
I had one myself.
Yes, I said had, because she’s one of my hungry ones now…and all it took was some creative prodding and guiding to get her there!
Here are 3 fantastic tips to help encourage your kids to read:
Focus on THEIR interests. Not overly hard. All kids have an interest, so look for ways to encourage reading around those passions.
Engage in shared reading or reading aloud to them. Many times a child doesn’t want to be alone or feels embarrassed when they can’t do something well. Such was the case with my own child. Yet when she spent more time with her parents and older siblings in being read to and being encouraged to read—it eased those fears and help build self-confidence.
Be an example and GET CAUGHT READING! This is the best one I can think of, which has made a huge difference in our house. Kids are more apt to watch what you do more than listen to what you have to say. So show them by reading in areas and at times they will notice.
Back when Wanted Hero was a comic book series, my 14 year old daughter had an idea.
Just the fact that she came up with the idea on her own excited me—but it was a really good idea. We worked hard on the project. Cesilea wrote the script and I did the commercials and the voices of the characters. It took us about 10 hours to record and edit the first one out and it was a blast.
That show got more fan mail and attention from kids in the first 24 hours than I had with my comics over the previous year! When I told my daughter, she just smirked and said, “That’s easy to believe dad. Kids love shows from kids. They listen to each other.”
Huh. Goooood point.
That being said, I asked my kids to help and encourage your kids when it comes to reading. Each child was asked to suggest a set of their favorite books and to give a short reason why they loved reading the story.
Reading Empowers & opens Vital Doors for Our Children
Of all the schooling one can give—and yes, I’m talking to all you homeschoolers out there especially—I don’t believe there’s a more vital skill than reading. Once that skill has been sufficiently mastered…with a passion and value for reading, there is no limit to what a child can learn.
Specifically on their own.
You have now empowered your child with a tool that can open the horizon of possibilities throughout life.
Encourage your children and remember that the stakes are high.
No, you cannot force, but you can be aware that there are stages and aspects of reading.
The biggest test I had to date was with two of my boys and it was the exact same challenge. Neither saw value in reading—but they saw dad playing video games they wanted to participate in.
When I noticed this, I made them a deal: You can play IF you can read the conversations and instructions flashing on the screen without help. Until then, no playing was allowed.
In both instances, the boys learned to read sufficiently inside of 60 days. In fact, my oldest son is one of the fastest typists I know (using only 6 fingers).
THE KEY: Start small and try alternatives when you hit a wall.
Have You Had Troubles With Reading When It Comes To Your Child?
What was the challenge?
How did you handle it?
How is your child doing today?
2 Minute Action Plan
One of the reasons why I started making comic books back in 2005 was to help teachers encourage young boys to read. By meeting them in the middle and providing exciting action and humorous pictures, teachers were able to encourage them into bigger and better books.
Right now, write a list of 10 things that interest your child.
Next, make a list of materials you can acquire that links to and can be associated with that interest.
Comics, magazines, collector cards, heck—even Pokemon cards and baseball cards count….
Isn’t it all reading?
It is. So take this challenge in steps.
Pick your battles and always…be…encouraging.
Gorgette Hyre Books: “I can’t choose one. They’re all so good and have become some of my absolute favorites! Once I got 12 of her books, I read them all in a week! I love that her main guys are older, wiser and so nice that you want to be in the heroine’s place, just so you can be with the guy at the end of the story! (I guess that could be considered bad, but nevertheless, I enjoyed the books)
Hunger Games: I love the action in this story! The taking down of the government, getting rid of the hunger games—it’s all very entertaining for me. It gets my heart pumping and aching for the main characters all through the story—so you never get bored.
Fablehaven: I love this writers world of magic and fantasy. His characters seem so real they sucked me into the adventure. There are four boys I like in particular, but I won’t mention their names. Don’t want to spoil it for you. I’m pretty sure if you read the books you can guess which four boys I’m talking about.
Tennis Shoes Among The Nephites: I love the stories that are told in these books. They get you so absorbed you can’t put them down at night until you’re done reading them!
Eight Cousins: Loved this. It’s about a girl that goes to live with Uncle and meets her eight boy cousins. I love each and every one of the characters in this book. There are times when you want to smack them upside the head and say “STUPID!” Haha. I also liked the sequel, Rose in Bloom.
Jane Eyre: Because it’s a beautiful story of a young woman stricken with terrible hardships but she never lowers her standards, principles, or virtues. And there’s a well earned satisfying ending.
Little Women: I love reading the detailed characters building and I can easily relate to these four sisters as I have seven of my own.
Hunger Games: I like reading books w/corrupted governments where the lowly stand up for what they believe in. The Hunger Games is one of the best of these I’ve read. Original, well planned, and intense…in a good way.
Old Fashioned Girl: Its’a well-written story of a girly, innocent, clean & strong minded girl you can’t help falling in love with. She’s an amazing example for any girl to follow.
The Host: I love the idea! The concept and how well it was executed. Plus the writing style was addicting.
Fablehaven: I like the hummer and the magic and mystery together, plus all the amazing creatures. How can you NOT like something as cool as a magical refuge?
Harry Potter: The whole series is great. I like the idea that this is completely impossible, even though the way that it is written makes it feel like you can jump right into the world you’re reading about.
Trench Wars: The characters are funny and smart, the creatures (like the S.L.A.G.s) are amazing and the story is just plain cool. Even if I don’t understand all that techno stuff =).
The Truth About Lies: I love that Wendell is hurt and abused, but he always comes out okay. You can’t help but love him because, through all he experiences, he turns around and tries to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else.
The Hobbit: One of the best stories ever. Can’t help but love this story because Bilbo is pulled out of his natural habitat and finds that he likes it. How often do we do that? Get away from our regular lives and try something new? Well, Bilbo likes most of it, anyway.
Narnia: Is one of my favorite places to visit in stories, especially The Horse and His Boy. It’s funny and to learn how the world was created by magic. Wow. I love Aslan singing and bringing things to life!
Fablehaven: I’ve only read the first book, but it was so much fun, I’m waiting my turn to read the books after my sister. What would it be like if there was such a place and someone in my family took care of magical creatures?
The Hobbit: One of my favorite stories of any books. My dad would read this to us kids and I fell in love with the characters. Bilbo is amazing and I really love Dwarves. They make me laugh. This book is just awesome!
Prelude to a Hero: My dad is a great story teller and I asked for his first book for Christmas. I got it! YAY! Wendell makes me laugh so hard…and I love Dax. He plays tough, but he’s a softy.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: These books are great and I started reading them after we saw the movie. Not as good as the books, I promise. The artwork is funny, but it’s Greg’s imagination that makes me laugh.
Tale of Toa: “It’s the first Bionicle books and was awesome! I love building Bionicle’s, so the books make it all even better. My favorite part was when Tahu got dizzy after getting stung by those little fire scorpions. The story is coooool.”
I Had Trouble Getting to Solla Sollew: This was great because it’s SO funny. The ending is the best part and I remember what it says. Now I brought my little bat with me, so my little troubles will have trouble with me. Dr. Suess is a really great writer.
Superfudge: The books by Judy Blume are really funny. I like when Peter yells about little sisters being stinky and gross. It made me laugh—but mine don’t stink. I have two little sisters and I like them. But peter loves his sister, so it’s good.
Wanted Hero the Graphic Novel: This comic book has my favorite part of any book anywhere. It’s when the evil robe pops up and Green uses his magic lute, Huey, and bangs it in the back of the head. SOOOO funny!!
Bone: I love this book, cause we read it as a family and my dad is great with voices. He makes the rat creatures so funny! I don’t know what book it is, cause we have the BIG book with all the stories in it—but it’s a book all of us kids love. The dragon is the coolest =).
- Dragonlance (series) by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
- Rune Lords (series) by David Farland
- The Host by Stephenie Meyer
- Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
- Divergent (series) by Veronica Roth
- Chronicles of a Hero (series) by Jaime Buckley
- The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
- The Lord of the Rings (series) by J. R. R. Tolkien
- Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
- Calvin & Hobbs (multiple books) by Bill Watterson
- Bone (comic series) by Jeff Smith
- Fairest by Gail Carson Levine
- North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
- North Hanger Abbey by Jane Austen
- The Secret Journal of Brett Colten by Kay Lynn Mangum
- One Tattered Angel by Blaine M Yorgason
- Narnia Chronicles (series) by C. S. Lewis
- The Maze Runner (series) by James Dashner
- The Voyage of Patience Goodspeed by Heather Vogel Frederick
- Epic by Conor Kostick
- Artemis Fowl (series) by Eoin Colfer
- Eigth Cousins by Louisa May Alcott
- Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott
- Persuasion by Jane Austen
- Slice by Drew Briney
- Enders Game by Orson Scott Card
- Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
- The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
- Emma by Jane Austen
- Hobin Luckyfeller’s Fieldguides (series) by Jaime Buckley
- Fablehaven (series)
- Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
- Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
- Dr. Seuss (all books)
What are YOUR Favorite Books to Read?