Kids Not Reading Enough? Patch Has Tips from Author James Patterson

Bestselling author James Patterson gives tips on making your child an avid reader — and here's a a great reading list for the fall to get you started.

At Patch we're always trying to pull together into one place all of the best local resources on every topic, including books and reading. We have the good fortune to be working with best-selling author James Patterson in this endeavor, and we'll be continually sharing his reading list selections for every age here on Patch. Plus, we'll showcase reading lists from our local librarians, bookstores, and you — our readers. But here, an open letter to moms and dads of reluctant readers from James Patterson.

Dear moms and dads,

I’ve had the good fortune to meet hundreds of teachers and librarians around the country. They always wow me with their tips and tricks to get kids into reading. I thought it was time to get these great ideas out in the open so you all can use them at home. 

So, we asked teachers and librarians to send us their ways for successfully turning reluctant kids into hooked readers. There are many methods, but, interesting to me, is that there are a half dozen overarching ones from which to work. Go ahead — give these a shot at home with your kids:

• After a kid has read a book, listen—really listen—to what he has to say about it. Show him that his opinions matter and that you respect his judgment.

• Make books — lots of them — available. Go the library. Go to book sales. Go to bookstores. Give your kiddo many books you’ve selected especially for him to choose from.

• Reward reading. With prizes, with privileges, with praise.

• Set the rules and expectations — how much time, how many books. Your children will rise to your expectations.

• However old they are, read to your children or read with them. Talk about the books you’re sharing chapter-by-chapter so that you are both responsible to keep the conversation going.

• New habits are too easy to break. Don’t stop any of this when your kids become those avid readers. They need your consistent support.

— James Patterson

Check out these books on the ReadKiddoRead Great Advanced Reads section for ages 12 and older.

  • "Friends with Boys" by Faith Erin Hicks — For ages 12 and up. A girl haunted by her mother’s abandonment and saddled with a ghost must navigate her first days of high school. New friends offer to help Maggie rid herself of the ghost, but in the process violence breaks out, tensions rise and secrets emerge. Maggie gets unexpected help in this moody, atmospheric graphic novel that is sure to strike a nerve for all those in the sweet, spooky throes of adolescence.
  • "The Fault in Our Stars" by John Green — For ages 13 and older. A poignant story of love between two teens battling cancer. But more importantly, it’s a story of growing up and self-discovery for droll, nerdy and all-round adorable teens Hazel and Gus.
  • "The Girl in the Park" by Mariah Fredericks — For ages 13 and older. A whodunit of the best sort, this page turner will keep you riveted! Read about how Rain finds the killer of her former best friend, Wendy among all the suspicions, lies and speculation.

Get your preteen hooked on reading! Some great recommendations are available in the Great Pageturners section of the ReadKiddoRead site for ages 9 and older. 

  • "Middle School: Get Me Out of Here!" by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts, illustrated by Laura Park — For ages 9 to 14. If anybody could use a fresh start, it’s Rafe Khatchadorian. Rafe gets a chance to leave behind his troubled sixth-grade year (chronicled in Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life) when the Khatchadorians move into Grandma’s apartment in the city. Then Rafe is accepted to a school for the artistically inclined, and he vows to put his rule-breaking ways behind him. But things don’t go exactly as planned.... 
  • "Liar & Spy" by Rebecca Stead — For ages 9 to 12. When 7-year-old Georges meets his new neighbor Safar and is recruited as a spy, he’ll also begin questioning how far you can go to keep a friendship.
  • "Three Times Lucky" by Sheila Turnage — For ages 8 to 12. Read about the spunky and resourceful detective, Mo (short for Moses) as he tries to uncover the mystery that has his hometown abuzz.

Are your kids just starting to read on their own? Then give these selections from the Great Beginner Reads section a try! These books are for kids ages 6 to 9. 

  • "Bink & Gollie: Two for One" by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, illustrated by Tony Fucile — For ages 6 to 9. Bink and Gollie go to the State Fair, have some fiascos and learn their future from a fortune-teller: they will always be friends. That’s all they need to know.
  • "The Great Cake Mystery" by Alexander McCall Smith, illustrated by Iain McIntosh — For ages 7 to 10. Everyone is happy in school — even the cat. But all that changes when school treats begin to disappear. Enter Precious Ramotswe and her incredible sleuthing skills. This tale raises questions about friendship and loyalty.

Looking forward to reading to your kid? These selections from the Great Illustrated Books section are a great start for ages 2 to 5. 

  • "Children Make Terrible Pets" by Peter Brown — For ages 4 and older.  Lucy the Bear happens upon a little boy hiding behind a bush. Lucy excitedly brings him home to show Mom. Mom is not amused to find a little boy in her living room and issues a careful warning that “children make terrible pets.”  Find out how Lucy figures out that sometimes leaving things where you find them is a really good idea.
  • "Little Pig Joins the Band" by David Hyde Costello — For ages 3 to 6. Little Pig wants to play in the family band, but all the instruments are too big for him. Little Pig does not give up hope though – because he just found the baton and the whistle which fit him perfectly. 

What have you been reading to your kids lately? Which books would you recommend to add to this list? We'd love to hear about your experiences encouraging your child to read, so tell us in comments. 

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