Author James Patterson's 10 Principles for Encouraging Children to Read

Friday, 23 Mar 2012 08:54 AM

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Best-selling author James Patterson is a huge advocate of encouraging children to read — and not just because he’s a writer with selling books in mind.

Rather, he sees the benefits reading has provided for his own son, Jack, in soaring reading skills and an appreciation for good books.

Patterson, who has made millions from titles such as “Kiss The Girls,” “Tick Tock,” “Private,” and “Along Came a Spider” has just donated 200,000 books to service men and women stationed overseas.

Following are Patterson’s 10 principles for parents to encourage children’s reading:
  • Don’t leave the burden with schools — it’s your job to get kids excited about reading. But the solution is a lot simpler than you might think.
  • Read more! Here’s a simple but powerful truth that many parents and schools don’t act on: The more kids read, the better readers they become.
  • Pick out books they’ll love. Kids say the number one reason they don’t read more is because they can’t find books they like. The best way to get kids reading is to give them books they’ll gobble up.
  • Where to find great books and free books. ReadKiddoRead.com, GuysRead.com, Oprah.com, YALSA and ALA’s sites. Where to find free or low-cost books: ReadKiddoRead.com, FirstBook.org, ReadertoReader.org.
  • Don’t discriminate. Freedom of choice is key: Comics, re-reading a book, easy books and hard books are all fair game. Don’t say no if the book is helping a kid get into the reading habit.
  • Don’t fear change. We need to embrace new programs in our schools and communities. Good models: the Drop Everything and Read program; KIPP Schools’ ‘carry a book at all times’ rule; Sun Prairie Schools’ switch from texts to trade books.
  • Boys are squirrely. Boys’ differences in tastes need to be encouraged, not reprimanded. Too often, boy-appealing books like Guinness World Records or books with explosions and robots are disproportionately overlooked on schools’ recommended-reading lists.
  • Be a reading role model. The best role models for reading are at home. Moms and dads, it’s important that your kids see you reading.
  • Those in power should help. The Obamas, ESPN, NFL, or Hollywood could help if they start pressing the issue. The UK’s World Book Day is a great example of those in power getting kids reading.
  • You can take action. Please “like” this statement on Facebook or send me a note. Once we have a million — or even 10 million! — people backing this statement, I want to write Washington, D.C., and others in power and get something done about this issue. But, even if you don’t have a chance to do that, please go out, and pick out some great books for your kids. It’s one of the most important, effective, and caring things you can do for a child.

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