Reluctant Readers are probably my favorite group to advise.
First of all, this is reader’s advisory, just a bit more challenging. Most of the time when I get these questions, a parent will approach me with a child “reluctantly” following (I know, I’m the worst). We’ll exchange niceties and the parent will inform me that their child does not show much interest in reading. I try to gain basic information from the parent as quickly as possible, because I want to be able to focus on engaging the child. I typically just ask the parent, demographic information, I don’t want the parent’s ideas of what their kid likes, because they are often wrong.
Once I’m able to start talking to the kid, I just try to start a conversation with them about what they like and what their interests are. Once you hit on the right question the kid will open up! It’s amazing to watch someone go from so hesitant and dubious to so animated so fast! You will definitely know when you have found their passion!
I always start with a very open ended, “So, what do you like to do?” If they hesitate (and they usually do), I’ll offer prompts, I start with activities and move onto passive examples, if I’m having a hard time engaging them.
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Most kids play a sport or dance or play a musical instrument. Talk to them about their activities and see if this might translate into a reading interest for them. Realize that some kids are in a sport or activity because their parents make them, it may not be their passion.
Do they enjoy school? What are their favorite and least favorite aspects of school? Try to get a sense of how social the child is at school and in their personal lives.
Do they have pets or want pets, do they have an interest in horses, dinosaurs or fairytale creatures?
Do they have an interest in the wider world? Are they interested in learning about their heritage or other cultures?
What books have they read and enjoyed?
Do they play video games? If so what kind of games do they play?
What is their favorite movie or TV show, what do they like about it?
With most kids you will be able to find their interest out of this list of questions. Then it’s just a matter of finding the right graphic novel.
Let's Collaborate! Do you have a favorite question you use to engage kids? Comment below!