by Judy Newman with Alexie Basil
I spend all of my professional life—and most of my personal life—thinking about how to connect kids to books they will enjoy reading. My end goal is for every kid to declare: “I am a reader!”
Being a reader does not mean you are a certain type of kid. The great thing about being a reader is you can do all kinds of other things too.
You can be a soccer player and a reader. You can think you’re the coolest kid in the class—or the shyest—and be a reader. You can be an animal lover—or totally allergic to cats—and also be a reader. You can be fascinated by weather, love rock collecting, be excited by the inner workings of construction vehicles, love to fish, play video games, be the best dancer, love watching football or baseball, or enjoy baking fancy pastries—and be a reader.
You can add “I am a reader!” to whoever you are.
But I meet a lot of kids and families who feel intimidated and scared about reading. Or they think that they’ll have to give up something else they like in order to be able to call themselves a reader. But no matter who you are or what you like, you can always call yourself a reader if you read.
On top of all these complicated feelings, lots of kids cannot find the just-right book that helps them feel comfortable reading—especially if they don’t think they are any good at it.
Many books that are “easy to read” with simple vocabulary are about topics that are not particularly interesting. For authors, it’s pretty challenging to write an engaging story with interesting characters while using very simple vocabulary.
I meet a lot of kids who just feel too bored with the “baby books” that match their current reading level. And I meet a lot of other kids who try to read books matched for their age or grade level that are too hard—and too frustrating—for them to read.
No one—including me!—wants to feel bored, wasting time on something too easy; or feel stupid trying to read something that’s too complicated with vocabulary they don’t understand. So lots of kids give up.
At Scholastic, we see a huge decline in kids enjoying reading around the third grade. I get it.
We also know that when kids choose the books they want to read, they have fun reading them and are much more likely to choose another book afterward. That means they are way more likely to be comfortable declaring “I am a reader!”
Here is an excerpt from the seventh edition of Scholastic’s Kids & Family Reading Report, entitled “When Kids Choose, Kids Read,” that helps elaborate this point:
“In the 13 years of the Kids & Family Reading Report, one thing remains constant no matter what: when kids choose, they read. Across demographics, the majority of kids (89%) agree their favorite books are the ones that they have picked out themselves.
“Further, nearly 9 in 10 (88%) say they are more likely to finish a book they have picked out themselves and 8 in 10 (82%) say they feel a sense of accomplishment when they finish reading a book. Each time these statements have been asked in a Kids & Family Reading Report, even among the most infrequent readers, the data punctuate the opportunity that choice can provide for all children.”
The Bobs and Tweets books are rhyming, illustrated chapter books designed to try to connect with all those kids who have trouble finding a book they can feel successful reading.
This week—our last blog week of this wild and bewildering school year—we are featuring Scout Camp!, the fourth book in the Bobs and Tweets series. Did you know? Each book has its own soundtrack!
In this latest Bobs and Tweets adventure, Lou and Dean and all their friends from Bonefish Street are off to Scout Camp. There, they work on their hiking, camping, and survival skills—and ultimately learn that getting along and working together is the greatest skill of all.
“This book was so much fun. It is a book that really allows your kids to experience what camp is like, and how when you are at camp, you have to work together on many things to make things happen.” —Chris Lewis, DadOfDivas.com
I’m so impressed with the way our Scholastic Book Clubs team and teachers—and Bobs and Tweets illustrator, Kristy Caldwell—have collaborated remotely to create exciting, engaging resources to help you and your students get the most out of Scout Camp!
Here are the free teaching resources you’ll find in this week’s posts:
• NEW BOOK BOYS SONG: Sing along to “Red vs. Blue,” an original track by the Bonefish Band that’s inspired by Dean and Lou’s adventures in Scout Camp!
• SCOUTING FOR RHYMES: Learn how a third grade teacher uses Scout Camp! to teach elements of poetry, predicting, and more in Book Talks.
• CRAFTING WITH KRISTY: Join Bobs and Tweets illustrator Kristy Caldwell and two Girl Scouts in an exclusive Behind the Scenes video.
• COMIC-STRIP ACTIVITY: Write and draw your own new final chapter of Scout Camp! with a creative Cooked Up from a Book downloadable activity.
I hope you and your students enjoy kicking off summer with our Book of the Week, Scout Camp!, and that it inspires some kids you know to say: “I am a reader!” After all, my favorite part of this blog is sharing books that I hope all kids will love to read!
As a special bonus activity, ask kid readers to draw a picture or comic of themselves with the headline “I Am a Reader!” and share it with us on Facebook and Instagram using the hashtag #ScholasticBookClubs. We’d love to see what you’re up to this summer and share with our followers!
This Book Is Available from Scholastic Book Clubs